The Corner

“Issues” or “Reparations”?

If the press insists on hinging on every word of Obama, can’t they at least ask for clarifications and details about his sweeping proclamations? Most are still waiting for the particulars of his idea to create a shadow Pentagon of civilian aid and civil support workers funded to the same tune of $500 billion a year. That seems a big deal that the electorate should ponder? How would it function? Where would the funding come from? What would be the relationship with the Pentagon?

And now what does the following mean from Obama:

I personally would want to see our tragic history, or the tragic elements of our history, acknowledged. I consistently believe that when it comes to whether it’s Native Americans or African-American issues or reparations, the most important thing for the U.S. government to do is not just offer words, but offer deeds.

Again more details: Does this mean an expansion of affirmative action, more of WWII taught as mostly Rosie the Riveter, Hiroshima, and the Japanese internment, or cash grants for past sins? Does the explicit reference to reparations mean they are here at last—which were on the front burner pre-9/11? Anyone in any government-supported university the last thirty years knows that admission policies, graduate and professional school recruitment, assigned readings, curriculum, minority hiring and promotion, and university polices do not “just offer words, but offer deeds”. It would seem that the Obamas’ own careers, in retrospect, have been helped a lot by “deeds” rather the mere rhetoric of the government.

Two themes seem to reoccur: one, sweeping rhetorical promises that either are not or cannot be backed by detailed proposals; two, a certain sort of resentment that after trillions of dollars invested in affirmative action, war on poverty programs, and government assistance targeted to the poor and minorities they can be summed up with a mere “not just offer words.”

The messianic language, presumption that the election to come is a mere formality, and royal campaign style are worrisome. But far more importantly, these eerie promises of brave new programs go virtually unquestioned.

A final note: Ludacris is about as “talented” as Rev. Wright was “brilliant.”

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