Thursday, February 21, 2008

North American Scum

Okay, before we all forget about the Michelle Obama gaff in light of Sen. McCain's lobbyist problems I wanted to mention a couple of things. Now remember, I'm a supporter of Sen. Obama so go into reading this with that bias in mind. Even so, I do believe it was a gaff as a statement that she should have couched far more carefully than she did. I can understand the reasoning behind it, for the last twenty years of politics in America there have been few opportunities to feel proud of one's country. Love of country is one thing but we aren't always proud of our country, just as we aren't always proud of the people we love. But sometimes moments, events, history happens that make us stop and realize how good being an American feels.
I remember feeling a sense of pride after 9/11 when, for a brief moment we had a shared purpose, a real sense of unity, even if that unity was brought about by fear. But my experience of America is limited as my consciousness of the world didn't take shape until I was nearly in my teens in the early 90s. So I went through all of the Clinton years and the Bush years with few moments to find pride in my country. I can see Michelle Obama suffering from the same lack of pride as I did. Conversely, I can see Mrs. Obama as feeling an overwhelming sense of priding in watching a black man, her husband, have a genuine chance of becoming the president of the United States. Now if that doesn't make you feel damn proud then you obviously have a skewed sense of what pride for this country means.
As far as gaffs go however, I don't believe this is a serious one. Moreover, in a campaign so well run, this is the first mistake that even rises to the level of a gaff. Yes, some people are offended, but in general they are the same people who wouldn't have voted for Sen. Obama anyway. The damage done to the Obama campaign is at best minimal. It comes across as the same hullabaloo that Sen. Obama caused when he explained why he doesn't wear an American flag lapel pin; he's an American damnit, he doesn't need to advertise.
I think the best way of framing Michelle Obama's words are through LCD Soundsystem's song "North American Scum". Yeah, sure, Europeans look down on us, but this is our country and we love it, warts and all.

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