August 22, 2008
Obama, Justice Thomas and Col. West: On MoralityBy James Lewis
Far too many folks on the Left just point the finger of generalized bigotry at their critics, in a sort of moral version of a skunk's spray attack. That skunk smell of race baiting just hangs in the air for days afterwards. Random accusations of racial bigotry have poisoned our national conversation for decades. They are truly the last resort of a scoundrel.
So let's just compare the moral seriousness and intellectual heft of three black heroes: Barack Obama, Justice Clarence Thomas, and Lt. Col. Allen West.
A white liberal friend of mine is sure in his own mind that Justice Clarence Thomas is an intellectual lightweight. Why? Has he read any of Thomas' Supreme Court opinions? No. He's never bothered. But he's heard about Justice Thomas on NPR.
I have no doubt that my friend, who is a wealthy Marxist Hungarian capitalist (don't even ask), will vote for Obama. Why? Because he is sure that George W. Bush is the worst president the United States has ever had. The evidence? Yes, yes -- heard it on NPR, or read it in the NYT, or in his local liberal rag.
Let's get serious. Justice Thomas strikes me, with my admittedly limited knowledge of his legal opinions, as an extraordinarily admirable man. His roots in the painfully segregated South; his period of black radicalism; his return to his personal religious faith; his rise in the strange mixture of politics and law that we use -- rightly or wrongly -- to evaluate the character of our Supreme Court nominees; his Supreme Court nomination by George H.W. Bush followed by a "high tech lynching" before the demagogues of the US Senate Judiciary Committee; his humility, despair, and search for love and moral strength in that crisis; his fairness, his personal sense of balance, his sense of humor, and his common touch as a Supreme Court Justice. Clarence Thomas is absolutely Shakespearean. Here is a man I would trust.
Or consider a current hero of a lot of conservatives, Lt. Col. Allen B. West, now running as a civilian for Congress from Florida's 22nd District. Col. West knowingly sacrificed his Army career to save the lives of his soldiers in Iraq. In late 2002, he shot off a pistol next to a terror suspect in Iraq to make him confess to a hidden ambush. The man confessed, Col. West's patrol got through safely, and the Colonel immediately told his superior and his staff about his actions, knowing full well that he had risked his military career.
It is Allen West who should be celebrated in our media, not the sleazoids responsible for Abu Ghraib -- who were on their way to an Army court martial when the press found out about them. West represents the ideals and the actions of the great majority of our military. But as usual, the media mob tells us a lot more about their own blinders, than about the reality of war, when they select the headlines.
Lt. Col. West was faced with a supremely difficult moral choice, and unhesitatingly chose the right and painful course. He was duly court-martialed. To listen to him, he has never doubted his actions, and I'm sure his troops have never doubted him. But you can be sure that he and his family went through months of anguish, just as Justice Thomas did during the awful US Senate hearings, when he was assaulted every day by the hyenas in the press. Col. West is a paragon of leadership. His moment of crisis is a classic case of clear moral thinking, of the kind that civilians rarely confront -- or if we do, we tend to retreat into denial, as we have seen so often among our sleazier politicians when their real actions are exposed.
I would trust Alan West the way his troops trusted him: to make the right decision, to be brave in battle, to be entirely clear about the difference between an enemy that blows up innocents for vengeance and the United States armed forces; to protect the men and women under his command, but still lead them into danger when necessary; and to bring his own intellectual and moral clarity to a political system that constantly corrupts frail human beings. (Work for West, for goodness' sake, all you Floridians!)
Now weigh Justice Thomas and Lt. Col. West in the same balance that we are asked to weigh Senator Barack Obama. And let's be kind in the process.
Barack Obama is intelligent, attractive, articulate, able to learn quickly, and, as he tells us, a moral Rorschach blot. Senator Obama is a supremely ambitious politician, not itself a sin, but certainly a constant source of temptation to make moral compromises. His lifelong ambition and sense of more-than-human destiny have led him to curry favor with Chicago Machine politicians and corruptocrats, not least the Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the wretched Father Michael Pfleger, and unrepentant Leftist terrorists Bernardine Dohrn and William Ayers.
These are not good people. They are demagogues and limousine lefties, exploiters of the poor for their own overblown egos, manipulators of power and influence. Sure, they talk up goodness and compassion -- but their idea of compassion is to stir up race hatred for political gain or plant bombs to kill those with whom they disagree politically. They simply flunk any sensible test of humane judgment. Saul Alinsky is a great example of this kind of character; after all, he dedicated his famous Rules for Radicals to Satan, the very symbol of wretched human evil.
Such people don't even exist in the same scale of morality as Clarence Thomas and Alan West. They are zeroes. They do not live in a world of personal responsibility. They have never, as far as we can tell, sacrificed a smidgen of personal ego for a greater cause; they utterly lack humility; they routinely slander and smear millions of other Americans, including (we can safely assume) people like Col. Alan West and Justice Clarence Thomas.
So Obama made friends with this crowd of sleazoids in order to rise to the top in Chicago politics. The Senator is not the most honest person in the world, witness his wild gyrations on matters of substance -- including anguished moral questions like live-birth abortions. He has explicitly told us in Audacity that he tailors his words to whatever audience he's trying to impress. Obama has never raised any public doubts about people like Rev. Otis Moss IV, a real sweetheart of a preacher who tells his black parishioners that to whites, all blacks are cursed with leprosy. That is a libel, and it is cynically designed to stir up hatred.
We have never heard Obama denounce Louis Farrakhan, who has defended the Black Muslims' assassination of Malcolm X, Obama's boyhood hero. Obama is morally compromised by a lifelong quest for power. It has made him famous, powerful, and rich; but it has not demonstrated moral strength and courage. No, no, no, no! as Rev. Wright might have said. Obama is a morally compromised man.
Barack Obama is a talented politician, articulate when his speech is printed out on his teleprompter, and as wriggly as Bill Clinton. He has minimal experience in the real world, including the world of national politics. He is both ambitious, yet personally immature and overly touchy at the same time. He is constantly enticed by his bizarre campaign decision to depict him as President of the United States without all the fuss and bother of an election; look at the Berlin speech, the "President Obama" name plate on his official airplane seat, and his constant efforts to act presidential, making a stream of embarrassing pratfalls in the process. When Obama talks off the cuff he's a disaster waiting to happen. He and his crew do put on a great rock show, with Barack as the Man on the White Horse come to rescue America, a kind of American Caudillo like Fidel Castro or Hugo Chavez, showing off his outsized ego before the worshipful masses. But that is a very Third World display, a way of compensating for intense feelings of inferiority. American politicians have never gotten away with it.
Senator Obama has a tendency to claim special protection from criticism because he is black, and therefore a victim -- although he has no slavery in his family background (at least slaves), and has never encountered the degradations of the Dixiecrat South in which Clarence Thomas grew up. Obama is a lifelong child of privilege, from birth all the way to Harvard Law School and the US Senate. Yes his mother was a single mom, but one with a PhD and a mother who was a bank vice president, enabling her to spend her time overseas mostly unencumbered by a child. In contrast, Lt. Col. West has never claimed special privileges because he was black -- and has never needed to, as far as we can know. He has too strong a sense of personal honor. He is too clear in his values to need that kind of crutch.
So who is the picture of morality? Who has character and integrity? Who is intellectually honest? Who has lived through the toughest times without compromise? Who has shown true leadership, and earned the trust of men and women under his command? I would vote for Col. West or Justice Thomas any day of the week. They have the character and strength we desperately need in our weak and morally confused political class.
It's quite possible that Senator Obama will mature and have a constructive political career. He's just not ready for it now. Voting for Obama is like letting an untested rookie be the quarterback in the Super Bowl. But of course the outcome is not a football game, but the presidency of the United States: the man or woman who bears the safety and well-being of this country and the world in his hands.
Is Obama ready for that? Not for a second. Will he be ready after another ten years of seasoning and experience? Maybe.
Are we being bigoted in preferring Lt. Col. West and Justice Thomas as our moral heroes?
You be the judge.
Don't let them bully you with the race card.
James Lewis blogs at dangeroustimes.wordpress.com.