I've got a confession: I'm not perfect. No, I won't admit to having the sort of genetic defects you people describe as being "human," but even I have made a mistake or two in my time. And I did most recently regarding Obama and his pastor.
You see, while I'm no adherent to the "where there's smoke, there's fire" line of reasoning, which is quite fallacious; I had sort of assumed there was something truly controversial about Obama's pastor. I won't even go for the "heat of the moment" reasoning on this, as if his pastor only said these things without thinking. I know there are some people who have some inherently wacky logic and assumed that Obama's pastor was one of them.
So I didn't want to watch any YouTube clips of him saying these controversial things. Why bother? Guilt by Association is a pile of crap and I failed to see why Obama should be held responsible for what his pastor said. It's obvious Obama doesn't believe these things, so the whole thing was little more than just a smear against him and a blessed distraction for his two opponents (see footnote below). As I suggested before, people thought John Kerry should have been denied communion by his religion for his position on abortion, and no one assumed he needed to stand up against their anti-gay intolerance.
But all the same, I assumed the guy really had said some horrible things which weren't relevant. So why should I waste my beautiful mind on something like that? (And yes, that was a Barbara Bush quote.)
Well whaddya know, I was wrong. At least about two of the quotes anyway. I kept hearing about how his pastor had blamed America for 9/11 and had spent all my time insisting that it wasn't relevant to Obama. Apparently, Carpetbagger did the same thing. And then he actually saw the YouTube clip and felt as stupid as I did. Because I agreed with just about everything the guy said. In fact, not only have I been saying the same stuff, but feel that any liberal who isn't saying this stuff doesn't deserve to call themselves a liberal. This stuff is just a no-brainer. He might have put things a little more forcefully than I might have, but that's just a matter of taste.
Carpetbagger's already got the clip of the 9/11 "chickens home to roost" sermon, so you can watch that there. Or watch all the sermons his church posted on YouTube. But I wanted to cover his "God damn America" sermon, which I'll be cool enough to post here, just to show how hip I am.
Now again, I assumed he had some good reason for saying that. But I assumed it was some reason I wouldn't agree with. Some angry holdover from a prior period that normal ears would chafe at. But you know what, I watched the whole clip and not only do I understand what he's talking about, and not only do I think all liberals should understand what he's talking about, I can't see why most conservatives wouldn't understand what he's talking about; at least the religious ones anyway.
His main message is that government's change, but God doesn't. And after spending quite awhile explaining what he meant, he goes into a whole litany of horrible atrocities America has committed, as well as modern grievances. He then explains how the bible says that anyone who acts this way is going against God and is damned by God for treating its citizens as less than human. And while many conservatives might disagree with his specific grievances, most of them will agree that God is supreme to America and that America must obey God's will.
And that's what's odd: As an atheist, I should be more offended by what he says than any religious conservative should be. But I'm not. I'm used to this kind of stuff. Besides, I saw nothing to suggest that he thinks specific laws should be tailored from the bible's teachings; but rather just basic human rights issues. And so I'm cool with that. I'm not anti-religious and think that if religion helps anyone behave better, I'm all for that kind of thing.
And to have read Hillary supporters denounce Obama for his pastor saying these things is just wrong. I know they're desperate to find some way of winning this thing, but I doubt there's anything his pastor said that they didn't agree with, at least partly. And I should add that, were I to go to a church, that'd be a pretty decent church to go to. That was waaay better than the Catholic homilies I used to listen to as a kid. Of course, I'm a lazy SOB and can't imagine I'd go to church even if I were religious. But still, if I was into that kind of thing, his church wouldn't be such a bad place to go at all. If his other sermons are like that one, it'd be like I'd be getting a political blog post half the time anyway. Or I guess that would be a podcast or something.
Glenn Beck Doesn't Support Obama!
And on a final note, I made the mistake of watching a clip of Glenn Beck smearing Obama due to his pastor's words, and let me say: Not only is Beck a complete douchebag, but he's an incompetent douchebag. I won't post a link as I don't want you to make the same digestion-upsetting error I made, but for all his efforts to smear Obama, I can't imagine it having much impact at all. Because first off, his outrage seemed totally fake and overly emphatic; as if he's fully aware the material just wasn't there for him, and could only puff it up manually. It's obvious he just doesn't trust himself to sell the material, and he's a bad actor. Maybe that shit cuts it on radio, but I imagine seeing him spew that bullshit is totally a deal breaker for most people.
But even worse, he kept playing clips of Obama's speech on the matter. And for as much as he emphatically insisted the speech was ineffective and deceptive, people have ears and Obama sounded reasonable. I once heard about how a Reagan person told a TV news person that they loved it when they had negative stories about Reagan which showed Reagan talking, as people were less likely to pay attention to the story and more likely to just like seeing Reagan. And while I don't know if that's true or not with Reagan, I can definitely see that applying to Obama. At best, Beck should have read portions of the speech in that asshole voice of his, which would automatically make people think worse of Obama. But I guess that'd require that Beck understand how pathetically crappy he appears to be.
And his weirdest line of reasoning was that, because people accuse Beck of cherrypicking quotes from the pastor, it makes Obama a hypocrite for having ignored these cherrypicked quotes over the years. That's not exactly how he put it, as he was attempting to accuse Obama of cherrypicking; but that's what he was saying. Yet that's the most egregious abuse of cherrypicking. It's one thing to take a few quotes out of context to smear a guy; but to insist that those few quotes are representative of twenty years of sermons, and that Obama was cherrypicking by not noticing these cherrypicked quotes? That doesn't even make sense. I mean, this isn't even Limbaugh-level nonsense. This was just dumb at a level that makes Beck look entirely foolish.
But the whole performance was bad. Equally bad was that he made the mistake of inviting two black people on the show to discuss it; naturally with the idea that having black people diss Obama legitimizes it. And while neither of them gave a solid defense of Obama, one of them wouldn't join in with the disgust against Obama. Beck kept pestering the guy with one-sided questions which clearly begged for an affirmative answer, but this guy just wasn't having it and was prepared to dispute what Beck was suggesting. I don't know who vets this guy's guests, but whoever it is needs to get better at it. Because the guest sounded somewhat reasonable, while Beck sounded unhinged.
And because Beck's entire anti-Obama schtick was so weak to begin with, he needed all the support he could get. Having someone come out and disagree with him clearly took the wind out of his sails. Again, this guy wasn't defending Obama, but he was more knowledgeable than Beck and, even worse, was clearly aggravating him. But the whole thing was like that. I suppose Beck does have some loyal viewers, but even the two of them must have been scratching their heads over this one. You agreed with Beck if you already agreed with him; but if your level of persuasion is that limited, you really shouldn't bother. I wish someone would explain that to him. I really do.
Footnote: It has been brought to my attention by a loyal commenter that some may take my use of the word “obvious” in the third paragraph to imply some sort of empirical, objective knowledge of Obama’s thought patterns. But I, in fact, have NO ability to read Barack Obama’s mind, or anyone else’s, and was merely expressing my opinion that it was “obvious” that he didn’t agree with his pastor; much as John McCain said that Obama “does not share those views.” But in no way was this meant to sound as if I had conclusive proof of this; as I do not.
I should add that my use of "obvious" to describe Glenn Beck was also an opinion, and that I did not intend to imply that I had any sort of empirical proof that Beck is a bad actor who doesn't trust his material. It's possible he's a great actor who just wants conservatives to look really, really stupid. I can't say for sure.
Sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused my reality-deficient readers who are incapable of distinguishing fact from opinion, and somehow imagined that a statement which could only have been an opinion was otherwise. My apologies.