Friday, January 25, 2008

A Little Something On Barack Obama

I currently live in Illinois. Barack Obama is one of my Senators. Barack Obama seems like a nice guy. He's also a great orator. He's full of friendliness and charisma. He loves language and knows the power of language. There are a lot of people around my age who have joined the Obama campaign. They listen to him speak and believe in the words he says. They say that what Obama says makes them feel more hopeful about their lives and the world.

I want to like Barack Obama. I really do. Many of the speeches he has given to the larger general public are moving. I've felt some of the same things that my friends who support Obama do. Yet, there's just something about Obama that doesn't set right with me. I can't pinpoint it exactly. However, ever since I was forced to learn about who Obama was a few years ago when he first became one of my Senators, there was something about him that made me feel uneasy. Barack Obama reminds me a little too much of Willie Stark from All the King's Men.

For example, there’s been a lot of rumors that Obama is some kind of Manchurian Candidate of radical Muslim extremists. I don’t buy that particular conspiracy theory. In an attempt to lay these rumors to rest (and reach out to Christians), Obama gave an interview to Christianity Today magazine. In the interview Obama reiterates that he is a Christian. He also touches upon his views of abortion.

“Ultimately, women are in the best position to make a decision at the end of the day about these issues. With significant constraints. For example, I think we can legitimately say — the state can legitimately say — that we are prohibiting late-term abortions as long as there's an exception for the mother's health. Those provisions that I voted against typically didn't have those exceptions, which raises profound questions where you might have a mother at great risk. Those are issues that I don't think the government can unilaterally make a decision about. I think they need to be made in consultation with doctors, they have to be prayed upon, or people have to be consulting their conscience on it. I think we have to keep that decision-making with the person themselves.”

This is a great example of what a wonderful speaker Obama is. I am personally against abortion and believe that in most cases it is wrong, yet I can understand the rare case when a choice has to be made between saving a mother’s life and the life of her unborn child. It would seem that from his interview with Christianity Today that it is because of small nuanced possibilities like these that he seems to be “pro-abortion”.

Yet, on the anniversary of the Roe v. Wade decision this past week, Obama released the following statement: "Throughout my career, I've been a consistent and strong supporter of reproductive justice, and have consistently had a 100% pro-choice rating with Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America….But we also know that Roe v. Wade is about more than a woman's right to choose; it's about equality. It's about whether our daughters are going to have the same opportunities as our sons. And so to truly honor that decision, we need to update the social contract so that women can free themselves, and their children, from violent relationships; so that a mom can stay home with a sick child without getting a pink slip; so that she can go to work knowing that there's affordable, quality childcare for her children; and so that the American dream is within reach for every family in this country. This anniversary reminds us that it's not enough to protect the gains of the past – we have to build a future that's filled with hope and possibility for all Americans." This is only part of the official statement. I suggest you read the entire thing and read it carefully.

Though the statements that Obama made in Christianity Today don’t completely contradict his official Roe V. Wad anniversary statement, it is clear from the official statement that Obama believes that abortion isn’t something that should happen rarely, but is an inherent and inalienable right and something women should have upon demand, regardless of the circumstances.

The way these statements are worded illustrate part of the reason I don’t trust Obama. That’s not to say he’s not a likeable person or that he’s not a Christian. I think I would probably enjoy sitting down and having dinner with Barack Obama. However, I do think it should serve as a warning to those who have joined the Obama campaign because he’s “the man for change”. Change can be a good thing, but change just for the sake of change rarely is. Charismatic people can get others to go along with them just because of their personality and if a charismatic person, such as Obama, has learned the power of language, they can get people to do and believe just about whatever they want.

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