Friday, February 02, 2007

I Try Hard Not to Write with Nothing But a Hunch, But I Think the DPJ Is Overplaying Its Hand on Mr. Machine

Yes, it is important. But is it that important?

One of these days, the DPJ is going to have to stop boycotting the Diet and find their way back. And they will regret having missed out on an opportunity to look responsible.

If I'm wrong, I'll eat my hat. Metaphorically, of course, Chris.


Anonymous said...

Thanks for lunch today Jun. The ramen could've been better, but the conversation more than made up for it.
To expand on what we talked about, re: Obama's candidacy, and to comment on the linked articles, I'll start by saying that, if nothing else, over the next two years Americans are going to have a long-overdue conversation about race. In 1995, before Colin
Powell put an end to the rumors swirling about a possible run, many of the same, somewhat-backhanded compliments about articulation and presentability were on offer. What was aborted then is unstoppable now. This should, at the very least, make for some interesting reading. And, if and when the time comes for a concession speech, Obama can chin up by noting that, although he may have lost (in the primaries, in the election), race relations won.
Which brings us to the articles. What is most suprising for me thus far is how much the question of racial purity is figuring in the debate within the black community. Maybe it shouldn't. Maybe, had I done a little more hard thinking about it, this would've made sense. Nevertheless, the opinions being expressed now by some within the black community sound more like something you'd hear, in a different context, coming from the likes of Patrick Buchanan. In this respect, inter-race relations may suffer.
The third point I would make, then, is that all this talk of Obama's "actual" race is in fact working to his benefit in that it is obscuring the larger question of his relative inexperience in, well, politics. Even before he declared in January, pundits were all geared up to slam him on this. Now, however, the stories/op-eds are all about who he is rather than what he has done. For a candidate who hasn't even finished his first term in the senate, this might serve as a useful distraction until he can establish his bona fides on policy.
Love to continue this but I am being called to an izakaya. Hope to hear your response. Otherwise, thanks again for lunch--we'll have to do it again soon. And I hope, too, that I am good (hate to disappoint you or myself).

Anonymous said...

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Now I have to go.
Goodbye everyone

Jun Okumura said...

On your first point, perhaps. But will the debate will be a satisfactory one? Keep you fingeres crossed; the heat of electoral politics is not conducive to a lucid discussion of controversies raised by one candidacy or another. Case in point: military service during the Vietnam War in the 2004 presidential election.

Concerning your second point, there are three issues:

1) Physiognomy matters, or at least has mattered in the past. At least one serious commentator has mentioned Mr. Obama's East African roots in this context. According to the commentator gives him a different look from the African-American descendants of slaves who were predominantly of West African origin. In this context, I will just note that my exposure to the historical significance of skin color within African-American society has so far been limited to Walter Mosley's Easy Rawlins mysteries.

2) Where the slaves first landed matters. I recall an academic study some years back that showed that immigrants from the Caribbean did significantly better than the descendants of ex-slaves in America.

3) Class matters. There is a long-established Black middle class whose first language is not Ebonics. Then there's the world represented by 50 Cent. (Should I write, Fitty Cen'?) Of course individuals and families cannot be sorted neatly into discrete, clearly labeled boxes. Instead, they are spread out in a multidimensional spectrum according to their jobs, finances, upbringing, and what have you. And, among contemporary political figures, Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson have rightly or wrongly been lumped into the latter. In fact, it seems to me that much of White America sees African-Americans in that light, guilty, as it were, until proven innocent. Such sentiments were apparently lurking somewhere in Senator Biden's hindbrain, and popped out as he went about dissing just about every significant Democratic candidate hopeful in sight. (Which, as Jon Stewart pointed out, did not include Christopher Dodd.) Mr. Biden's clarification, that he meant to say "clean as a whistle", should help him little with African-American voters. After all, besides unintentionally implying that Mssrs. Sharpton and Jackson are somehow, um, "compromised"? even with the correction, his appraisal still as good as expressed his amazement that Mr. Obama, a black guy, was "one of us".

Does this matter one whit in determining what Mr. Biden will or will not do as regards the rights of minorities if he were to be elected president? Of course not. But that's about as significant in electoral politics as, say, the practical consequences of the unfortunate analogy employed by Mr. Machine.
As for your third point, I am sure talk will come back to that. Mr. Obama does seem to have the grace to parry such assaults; much in the way that Ronald Reagan defused the age issue with his customary middlebrow wit and good humor. But you will see

Jun Okumura said...

PS: You earned the dandanmian when you met my challenge. There wasa little too much vinegar in it, true.