Rhetoric without a cause: Obama

John Mark Reynolds succinctly summarizes my problem with Obama's phenomenal rhetoric-without-a-cause by comparing him to previous great statesmen.

Great rhetoric is safest when turned to great causes. It is most dangerous, and cloying, when serving smaller political goals that conflate party triumph with national renewal...


So he is great and unifies but what is his greatness for and to what are we unifying for or against?

Martin Luther King is another fine example of a moment meeting a great man. Segregation was a great cancer and the racism of the sixties a cause that demanded the high words of King. He was fighting obvious evil and using his mind and power to rally all of America to a cause greater than self. When the greatest victories were won, there was no diminishing of his speaking ability or of King’s great intelligence, but the evils more subtle and the solutions more questionable. His heroic life was cut tragically short, but before his great rhetoric could find a cause worthy of it...
MLK was a great man with clay feet who accomplished great change for human rights. When he went north to help with worker rights in Chicago, he couldn't rally an audience. Perhaps his social capital had been spent.

Grand and great rhetoric tied to party politics debases the rhetoric and lacks staying power. When not tied to a cause greater than party triumph, it is dangerous.

This is even more true when it takes on gassy causes in politics like “unity” or “making America great again” or “moral goodness” not tied to any great struggle in which legitimate opposition exists in the body politic.

There is nothing wrong with a great speech that reminds us of the things we all agree about, but great danger in associating these things with one party or person...

Obama supporters like to point his rhetorical difference in using "we" instead of "I" in his stump speeches. Perhaps, unfortunately, Americans are so far removed from England since our revolution 230 years ago, that we forget the royal "we" is the polite royal's pronoun when he means "me."

Exactly what over-arching end is Obama’s rhetric pointed toward?...

If elected the Lincoln bedroom will be open to all of us?

Is turning Bush out of office, a man who will be gone regardless of who wins the next election, really a great cause like defeating the butchers who murdered millions in Russia, Poland, Cambodia, and Africa?

Is securing the right to partial birth abortion that cause?...

This is one of my terrors. Clinton vetoed this barbaric form of infanticide several times. When Obama selects judges and justices, how blind will they be to such barbarism?

What will Obama say? If he does not tell us his cause, which means excluding somebody by pointing out what he wishes to change as King excluded the segregationists and Reagan the fellow travelers, then the fears will grow that at best he is a wind bag and at worst a demagogue.

We all like Obama too much to hope either is true. He has a chance, having roused us, to do something. If he does not tell us before the election, then he will have a mandate to be president, but not to act as president. His first partisan steps will be deflating . . . and like Jimmy Carter he will fail in his great promise....

Abortion is something that Christians unite against. Slavery was something that Christians united against 150 years ago. Christians don't need another man to rally around, we already have him, Jesus. Some of will support en masse a candidate if he agrees with our aims (Lincoln for abolitionists, recent Republicans for embryo lives), but we never confuse him with Jesus.


For laughs enjoy this blog showing that Obama just might be the messiah.

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