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    November 03, 2007

    The Obama-Clinton difference

    Posted by: Chris

    Andrew Sullivan has been somewhat harsh on Barack Obama for the Donnie McClurkin "ex-gay" mess, but in a post yesterday, he gets it just right.  A reader writes in to tell him that Obama is continuing to talk about homophobia before conservative black audiences, just as he did long before the gay blogosphere and the Hillary hacks at HRC went bonkers over McClurkin.

    Sully's reader opines:

    It wasn't the "right" thing to say politically, but it was the right thing to say.  The national media certainly wouldn't have reported on it had he left homosexuality out of this particular speech.  All he accomplished, by sticking to his principles, was run the risk of alienating people whose support he desperately needs.  Though, in fairness, this did cement my support.

    Andrew, this man is a strong ally.  Anyone for whom sexuality issues are important would be making a grievous error to jump his ship over the Donnie McClurkin fiasco.

    Andrew adds: "Can you imagine Senator Clinton defending "homosexuals" in front of a non-gay crowd?"


    Along those same lines, don't miss the op-ed this week in the Blade by regular Citizen-reader Don George, "Obama's the true uniter":

    Take-away quote:

    If Americans are ever to overcome our ungovernable 50–50 stalemate on most issues, we need a leader who can reach across hardened, age-old divisions. Obama is possibly that man. He has a record of talking truth to evangelical churches about HIV and LGBT issues, and now he’s trying to bring evangelicals into his campaign.

    Obama believes that no progress will ever be made if the faith and LGBT communities are hermetically sealed off from each other, so instead of yielding to gay demands that he remove McClurkin, Obama invited Rev. Andy Sidden, a South Carolina pastor who is openly gay, to join the tour.

    That move should have been welcomed by gays. It makes no sense for the LGBT community to refuse a candidate the latitude needed to pitch a larger tent and to interact with supporters who do not see eye-to-eye with us on gay issues. There are not enough people in the country who think like us and only like us to win a presidential election.

    A counterpoint in the same issue by Jamie Kirchick hits way off the mark, which is a surprise coming from someone who usually dips further below the surface of hot-button issues. Kirchick goes so far as to compare Obama's alleged "Southern strategy" with the attempt by Richard Nixon to play the race card in the 1968 election:

    How ironic that Barack Obama — the first, serious black presidential candidate in the history of the United States — would resurrect one of the most disreputable features of the Republican Party’s campaign playbook.

    C'mon Jamie…  Don't you see a wee bit difference here?  Even if you accept that Obama selected McClurkin (which he didn't) as part of a calculated ploy to play to homophobes (which it wasn't), the huge difference here is that Nixon's political positions fit his strategy. He was no friend to African Americans or civil rights.

    Obama, on the other hand, has the strongest gay rights record ever of a serious candidate for president. So how in the world can you compare the two?



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    1. D.Stephen Heersink on Nov 4, 2007 7:07:16 PM:

      I was an early advocate of Obama's candidacy. He seemed sharp, eloquent, almost pastoral, and clearly unifying. Plus, what a leap a black president would do to repair race damage.

      But straddling fences in some policies may be politically propitious, but straddling founding principles like equality, democracy, justice, cannot be parsed.

      Obama's camp insisted McClurkin's presence illustrated their candidate's ability to bridge differences, but, if so, where was David Duke on that stage? Lou Farrakhan?

      One cannot compromise principle like one compromises policies. Either one supports democracy or not, equality or not, justice or not; no fence is acceptable.

      And while we could use someone with compromising skills, never compromise principles for political expediency. We must never forget: The ends never justify the means. Nor will Hilary's having it both ways achieve either.

    1. Citizen Crain on Nov 5, 2007 1:07:23 AM:

      The problem with your analogy, Stephen, is that we are not in the same place as a society on race as we are on sexual orientation. It is folly to pretend that we are. The views of the conservative black church are well within the mainstream of American society.

      Rather than pretending otherwise and trying to marginalize them, we should be engaging them to challenge their views. And if they are backing a candidate who is the BEST on our views of any serious presidential hopeful in history, how could that possibly be a bad thing?

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