kunstler sees obama as lincoln-esque

There’s been a lot of talk these past few days about the possibility of Barack Obama running for President in ’08. Some of the more interesting comments that I’ve read on the subject have come from our friend, the roof-shitting, Jim “Fuck You” Kunstler. Here’s a clip:

History doesn’t repeat itself, but it rhymes, Mark Twain famously observed. A hundred and fifty years (roughly) after the civil war, the United States faces another possible political convulsion. The earlier one was over slavery, a moral contradiction so stark and awful that an emerging modern industrial polity could no longer ignore it. The coming convulsion we face in the 21st century is not so much moral but no less stark: the collapse of a faltering industrial polity in the face of depleting energy supplies. Like the earlier dilemma of slavery, our national leaders refuse to face it.

The years just preceding the Civil War, the late 1850s, have some resemblance to our politics today. They were highly polarized. They produced outcomes in politics (the Kansas Nebraska Act, the Dred Scott decision) which allowed a vicious pro-slavery minority to impose their will on the rest of the nation — just as a fundamentalist Christian minority imposes its will on the public today.

The 1850s were also a time of disarray in the political parties. The Whig party, which had more-or-less run things since the time of Andrew Jackson, dried up and blew away because it ceased to stand for anything. The opposing Democrats of that day had sold their souls to the pro-slavery interests. In this vacuum of cravenness, the Republican Party formed and nominated a failed one-term congressman turned railroad lawyer from Illinois named Abraham Lincoln to run for president.

Now, in 2006, we have two political parties in disarray. The Republicans are hemorrhaging legitimacy in an unsuccessful military adventure and a sewer spill of scandal. The Democrats are going Whiggish — sinking in a bog of equivocation. And now along comes a first-term senator from Illinois, Barack Obama, as the most appealing figure of authority in a looming presidential contest.

Like Lincoln, Obama is not completely formed politically. His lean face, like Lincoln’s face pre-beard, needs filling out, as do his ideas and prescriptions for leadership. What he has in common with Lincoln is a gift for plain and convincing rhetoric. After decades of spin, PC euphemizing, neocon proxy speech, and similar bullshit, the public sees Obama as capable of straight talk…

A President Obama would also very probably face a geopolitical crisis as the US, China, Russia, Japan, Europe, and the Islamic nations jockey desperately over energy resources while their own populations grow restive, desperate, angry, and possibly aggressive. In other words, a President Obama would possibly face a world war, a civil war, and a great depression all at once. This is not a happy fate for any leader, and so perhaps in the public perception of Barack Obama, in the rising of his star, so to speak, the public apprehends the outlines of tragedy, just as the historical Lincoln is an incomplete picture without the tragedy of his murder a few days after the resolution of the terrible war he presided over…

I don’t know how I feel about Obama. He made an enormous splash at the ’04 Democratic National Convention with his, “We’re Not Red, or Blue, but Purple” speech, and I was as excited about him as anyone, buy my impression, rightly or wrongly, is that he’s been coasting down the middle ever since. I haven’t analyzed his voting record terribly closely, but he doesn’t strike me as one of our nation’s more progressive leaders. I don’t fault him for being a bit timid, as he’s new to national politics, and clearly has aspirations for higher office, but, based on his convention speech, I was expecting a lot more. But, as Kunstler said, Lincoln was still a somewhat unknown entity when he took the reins and navigated us through what was this nation’s most perilous period… Clearly, I think we could do a lot worse, but I’m still holding out for Gore.

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3 Comments

  1. egpenet
    Posted October 27, 2006 at 12:31 am | Permalink

    Can we PLEASE stop swooning over this guy! He’s young and ambitious and needs more time in politics before he would be presidential material.

    The Dems need to find a couple of better choices for ’08 and ’12 than Senator Obama … at least two, perhaps three, with a little more experience under their beltway … and, god save us, NOT another governor!

  2. Anonymous
    Posted October 29, 2006 at 2:55 am | Permalink

    There is an article about Obama in the latest Harper’s. It’s called “Barack Obama Inc.: The birth of a Washington Machine”. It gives a little history on the guy and examines his fund raising efforts, lobbiest connections, and senate votes. The only quote I half-remember is a lobbiest who says something like, “If we didn’t think we could buy his vote, we wouldn’t be giving him money.”

  3. mark
    Posted October 29, 2006 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    That’s fucked up, Taint. Send me a scan if you have a chance. Harper’s doesn’t make their articles freely available to the likes of me.

    Speaking of Obama, I still get visitors here every few days that find the site by googling “barack obama + satan.”

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