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McCain’s “The One”

posted by David Kuo

John McCain’s band of white advisers had best take a stroll down the lane of African-American oratorical history before they launch their next anti-Obama missive. [This is not to suggest that there is anything racial about McCain’s ad. I’m sure that his color blind associates aren’t even aware that Sen. Obama has more melanin than Sen. McCain.]McCain’s new web ad, “The One” mocks Obama’s grand, seemingly arrogant oratory. The problem with it is that it simultaneously mocks generations of African-American oratory. As my friend Patton Dodd pointed out to me, would the fact that Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., filled his speeches with grand rhetorical flourishes make us doubt his ability to lead? I’m wondering what the ad meisters would do with this “arrogance”

I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.I have a dream today.I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.I have a dream today.I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.

Or consider Barbara Jordan. Should her 1976 convention speech, one of the greatest political speeches in American history, have caused people to doubt her leadership ability simply because she said,

There is something special about tonight. What is different? What is Special? I, Barbara Jordan, am a keynote speaker.A lot of years passed since 1832, and during that time it would have been most unusual for any national political party to ask that a Barbara Jordan deliver a keynote address…but tonight here I am. And I feel that notwithstanding the past that my presence here is one additional bit of evidence that the American Dream need not forever be deferred.

By the McCain camp’s standards, every great speaker should be disqualified from public office simply because they refer to themselves in the personal pronoun and because they use rhetorical flourishes. Perhaps this gives an insight into who McCain is considering for his VP pick – someone who utterly boring in their public addresses… Al Gore.

Comments read comments(28)
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posted August 3, 2008 at 6:02 pm

Wait, did I read that right? Al Gore?

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posted August 3, 2008 at 6:38 pm

Honestly, David. I think not. If you compare the biographies of Dr. King and Representative Jordan with that of Barack Obama confirms the message in that ad more than it casts suspicion. I’m full-up tired of McCain’s campaign but the ad is funny and the point well made. The substance behind the oratory isn’t sufficient to the oratory. In King’s and Jordan’s cases, the opposite was true.

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posted August 4, 2008 at 11:50 am

I haven’t really seen any campaign ads, but if this is a real one…While McCain likes to appear on SNL…He would be better off NOT hiring their writers…But, Obama is, if not totally, over the top on his speeches, getting pretty close to it, which makes him fair game.

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posted August 4, 2008 at 3:35 pm

Having just returned from two weeks in California where I saw first-hand how the American economy is truly in the toilet, are you guys sure you really want to go along w/ politics/campaigns as normal as this ad seems to advance? Gov Schwarznen “don’t be a gully mahn” hoofer laid off something like 20,000 state employees and reduced wages to the minimum of $6.55…I saw ads for auctions of 100,000 homes that the banks had repossessed, numerous empty Countrywide Savings & Loan offices FOR LEASE – yowsir,
how much more can the peasants take before they revolt?

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posted August 4, 2008 at 6:42 pm

Don’t blame the Obama-as-Messiah theme on McCain and his (to use your words) “band of white advisers.” It was begun by the political LEFT — almost two years ago.
David, perhaps you should instead target your “race card” insinuations towards Slate, Mother Jones magazine … and Senator Hillary Clinton.
After all:
(1) Slate ran a story BACK in February 2007 entitled, “The Obama Messiah Watch.”
(2) Mother Jones magazine did its own story in February 2008, “Barack Obama’s Messiah Complex.”
(3) Senator Hillary Clinton mocked Obama’s “messianic complex” in Rhode Island on February 25, 2008: “The skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.”
David, don’t make racist insinuations against “McCain’s band of white advisers” unless you’re willing to make the same insinuations against Slate, Mother Jones and Hillary Clinton. After all, they’re the ones who started this whole thing.

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posted August 5, 2008 at 3:49 am

There’s a big difference between MLK’s ethereal rhetoric and Obama’s: MLK’s was designed to bravely and selflessly support a fundamentally good and right cause, fixing the centuries-old crime of state-sponsored racism.
Obama’s rhetoric above all else serves his selfish desire to become President (of course McCain has the same goal, but he’s not building a cult of personality and pretending its a movement for ‘change’ or whatever in order to achieve it).
Listen to Obama’s speech to the National Urban League from Saturday. It was one of the best speeches of his campaign because he eloquently advocated for his economic policies without any of the ‘this is our moment’ or ‘the seas will stop rising’ crap.
Speeches like the Berlin one hurt Obama 10 times more than they help him. He should stick to Democratic red meat like the Urban League speech unless he wants to lose by 70 electoral votes

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posted August 5, 2008 at 10:39 am

McCain and his camp should be ashamed of themselves for their latest smear against Obama. No amount of political rhetoric can justify this shameless attack ad.
It is McCain who is unfit to lead this broken country.

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Charles Cosimano

posted August 6, 2008 at 6:09 pm

Realtity check for opinionaters. McCain is not going to gain any black votes in this election so the black electorate is fair game for ridicule. He loses no white votes by ridiculing the black oratorical style because whites have ridiculed it for 40 years.
Three out of four votes is white. If McCain can make this a racial election–he wins.

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posted August 6, 2008 at 7:12 pm

Charles – you’re not suggesting there is a white oratorical style, are you?

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Albert the Abstainer

posted August 7, 2008 at 6:03 am

I think it is funny and edgy. Would it affect my choice for president, probably not, but it is hilarious. Does it depreciate his “brand”? Probably. As an attack ad it has the virtue of being memorable due to its “chuckle” factor. I think it is a good ad. I wish all attack ads were so creative and light.

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posted August 7, 2008 at 4:10 pm

I think the issue is the country is not used to someone who actual knows how to speak. We have had a president who has mangled the english language, the constitution, the economy, etc. I much rather have an orator then what we have now and what we would get with McCain. But I guess if people continue to want a President they can drink a beer with rather then one who can be the leader of the free world then we deserve the toliet bowl of a country we now have become.

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posted August 7, 2008 at 10:57 pm

I knew Barbara Jordan. One year her church in Austin hosted a production of Porgy and Bess. She served as MC. I served as token white person in the chorus. And after our performance, she turned to me and said, “Robert, you sing with soul. For a white person.”
Behind great oratory is real humanity. That’s what McCain (and Obama) need.

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posted August 8, 2008 at 4:41 am

If you look back and review what was being said about Martin Luther King Jr. by the people during that time, it is exactly what is being said about Barack Obama at this time. MLK was “all talk and no substance” and was known for being “all bark and no bite”. VERY similar to the “empty suit” phrase being pinned to Sen Obama today. MLK was particularly criticized in the Black community for his stressing of non-violent protest alternatives. People are saying that Obama “just wants to be president” and somehow dismissing the point of WHY he wants to be president. He doesn’t want just the title. He wants the power. He wants the power so that he can USE IT FOR THE GOOD OF ALL AMERICANS. Can we say the same about Sen McCain?
In order to adress the magnitude of the issues of our time, lofty rhetoric is required. Barack Obama speaks in terms of CONCEPTS by which he hopes that Americans will embrace and shape their decisions by. He knows that he will not solve anything alone, he needs ALL OF US. In order for any of our societal problems to be solved, SOCIETY has to take action, not wait for some father figure to take charge and solve things for us (like a messiah). The change that Barack Obama hopes for is for us to all GET UP, GET OUT, AND GET SOMETHING. He says it all the time…when will we listen?

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posted August 8, 2008 at 11:50 am

How dense does one have to be to not see a drifference between:
“I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: ‘We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.'”
“I have become a symbol of America returning to our best traditions.”
“…you will experience and epiphany and say to yourself, ‘I have to vote for Barack.'”?
Seriously. The first, which quotes Dr. King, speaks to the spirit of America and a belief that the country will change and improve.
The second two examples, which quote Mr. Obama are nothing more than self-anointed messianism in which he touts himself.
David, the first quote reflects hope. The second two reflect arrogance. Not even close. For you to then compare the two as equal and throw the race card while claiming that your not is either dishonest, blind, silly, unthinking, or worse.

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posted August 8, 2008 at 11:57 am

Why is it that when conservatives get caught acting badly the first thing they do is to try to justify their actions with the “well, they did it first” card? I mean, seriously, this is no better than what happens among kindergartners on the playground.
For example, mel states the following: “David, don’t make racist insinuations against “McCain’s band of white advisers” unless you’re willing to make the same insinuations against Slate, Mother Jones and Hillary Clinton. After all, they’re the ones who started this whole thing.”
So what, Mel? Is there any absolute standard for behavior that you, as a conservative, adhere to? Is everything relative? If those who oppose you suddenly decided to put up commercials saying that Obama is a green duck, would you and your conservative buddies go ahead and do likewise?
It’s this theme that really makes me wonder just what kind of Christians conservatives claim to be. They are every bit as mean spirited, angry, bitter, and hateful as the secularists they oppose. When called on it they react in exactly the same way…they try to shift blame to someone else instead of owning up to their own actions.
And they do this while claiming Christ’s salvation and preaching His moral teachings as the right and true way.
Is this what today’s conservative Christianity has come to?

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posted August 8, 2008 at 12:04 pm

CGP: “David, the first quote reflects hope. The second two reflect arrogance. Not even close. For you to then compare the two as equal and throw the race card while claiming that your not is either dishonest, blind, silly, unthinking, or worse.”
CGP, were you alive back in the 60s when Dr. King was speaking? If so, did you not read or listen to the commentary that was coming down regarding his speeches? It very much parallels what is being said about Obama’s speeches. The comparison of the comments from the 60s and the comments from today is relevant. David’s points are dead on.

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posted August 8, 2008 at 3:26 pm

I’m not comparing the words of the commentators. As we see here, some commentators are rational, others may not be or may have agendas that blind them.
I am comparing the words of the speakers. And I stand by what I said.

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posted August 9, 2008 at 4:03 am

I think these ads are completely out of touch with how young people think these days. I would be amused if it was on mad TV. I can’t take this attack seriously from a presidential candidate. It is just cheesy and trite. What’s next in the serious. “Band together against Obama since he hater barracks.”
“Obama represents the mtv generation. See what they have brought us? (proceed to show the most sexist videos that are offensive to all audiences.)” Just silly.

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posted August 10, 2008 at 12:02 am

The McCain camp should focus more effort in highlighting the conditions of the southside Chicago area. Children are being gunned down almost daily. End of the road for Obama meesiah train will not be on Pennsylvania Avenue. All they need to do is show Americans who and what Obama really is. McCain is certainly the lessor of two evils on that scale.

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posted August 10, 2008 at 10:27 pm

Donny, I’ve missed you but isn’t a lessor someone who leases?

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Paul, seeking wisdom

posted August 11, 2008 at 12:34 pm

Let’s see, the American icon for the NRA plays Moses and they compare Obama to a Messiah? Obama promotes himself as the best choice for a better America, loved the world over (and proves it by drawing hundreds of thousands to hear him speak in Europe) and he is egotistical?
McCain is grasping at straws and is playing to the WASP crowd who aren’t all that different than the Arians in my mind.
I was around to hear MLK speak and lived under JFK presidency and Obama gives me a sense of hope that I have not had for forty years. John McCain offers me nothing but more of the mess we have been in for the last eight years.

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posted August 20, 2008 at 12:51 am

Oh, Paul, McCain offers us a return to the greatness of the Reagan administration.
If any.

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posted September 17, 2008 at 6:37 am


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posted October 8, 2008 at 10:56 am

Why don’t all of you that keep picking on the small stuff about McCain stop playing the race card and grow up. Your a human, you have a brain, use it. Humans make mistakes, McCain is human. Stop knit picking at him and look at the man. HE LOVES AMERICA!!!!! More than a little, he really loves America. If you want to pick at the little things because you have nothing better to do, go ahead, but I for one want to find out how we can get our country out of this monetary hole we are in. Calling people names, i.e. racist, does nothing but make you look ignorant. In my life time it seems to always be the person calling the name who is what they are calling. I hope that we, as a nation of the FREE, can look deep and really understand the issues, and get by the knit picking to the real problems; health care, our seniors, the stock market, the war on terrorism, welfare reform, and the energy problems. Just to let you know a little about me; I am a minority. Thank you.

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posted October 10, 2008 at 6:27 am

This old man is running out of time. He is just dying. He better control his emotions and temper before things get dirty.

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joe lopez

posted October 10, 2008 at 3:31 pm

Let’s see…8 more years of the same republican leadership by a 72 y/o old guard republican. The thought of an absent McCain leaving the leadership of this Great country to…… Sarah Palin?!….this is a downright scary nightmare!!!! ARE YOU KIDDING ME???? Nobody is questioning the integrity of McCain or how much he loves his country. WE ALL LOVE OUR COUNTRY. this is not the issue.

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posted October 10, 2008 at 4:46 pm

WE ALL LOVE OUR COUNTRY!!??? Is that why Mrs. Obama said she was proud of the US for the first time, when Obama was selected to run?? Is that why Obamas preacher made those comments?? Is that why the church he went to for 30, yes 30, years acts like they do?? Is that why Obama does not place his hand over his heart at the pledge to the AMERICAN flag?? Never forget, and I mean NEVER FORGET, that there are those who wish to change this free country into something other than it is, and they LIVE HERE TOO!!!
Speaking on old, For a president, McCain would not be old, plus, we are living longer than 50 years ago. Palin may not be ready for the presidency, but vice is what she is running for. Besides do not forget that the DEMOCRATIC PARTY is running congress. The president does not run this country by him/her self. I hope that we can have a President we can trust and believe in to do what is best for the American people.

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posted October 24, 2008 at 1:47 am

I was just browsing & found your site. I thought wow this might be informative & uplifting. Something I think people really need. Your one article of Jesus & Politics was great, but than you turn around your site & making it a dump site where we can dump each other & the politicians. No I will not give my political views they belong to me. No blog will change my choices, only waste my time, and everyone who devotes there time to them. Thank you for sharing the beautiful pictures of Jesus, they were great. Have a good day. Don’t hate each other over an election what good does that do?

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