Obama Calls for ‘Civility’ at Prayer Breakfast (Denounces Uganda Proposal)
Edited on Thu Feb-04-10 11:15 AM by kpete
Source: New York Times
February 4, 2010, 10:32 am Obama Calls for ‘Civility’ at Prayer Breakfast By JEFF ZELENY
President Obama urged Democrats and Republicans to not question one another’s motives and to make an effort to move beyond the cynicism and skepticism that has weighed down the politics of Washington, saying: “Civility is not a sign of weakness.”
In an appearance today at the National Prayer Breakfast, Mr. Obama conceded that policy differences would often separate the political parties. But he challenged lawmakers and religious leaders to step beyond their comfort zones and unify on at least some daily challenges, not only when a calamity like the Haiti earthquake strikes.
“Too often that spirit is missing without the spectacular tragedy,” Mr. Obama said. “We become numb to the day-to-day crises. We become absorbed with our abstract arguments, our ideological disputes, our contests for power. And in this tower of babble, we lose the sound of God’s voice.”
The president, along with Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, denounced the proposal in Uganda. “We may disagree about gay marriage,” Mr. Obama said, “but surely we can agree that it is unconscionable to target gays and lesbians for who they are, whether it is right here in the United States or as Hillary mentioned more extremely in odious laws that are being proposed most recently in Uganda.”
The President asked for civility in discourse, the rejection of demonization of political adversaries. Here is more of his statement/prayer:
But let us remember those who came before; those who believed in the brotherhood of man even when such a faith was tested. Remember Dr. Martin Luther King. Not long after an explosion ripped through his front porch, his wife and infant daughter inside, he rose to that pulpit in Montgomery and said, "Love is the only force capable of transforming an enemy into a friend."
In the eyes of those who denied his humanity, he saw the face of God.
Remember Abraham Lincoln. On the eve of the Civil War, with states seceding and forces gathering, with a nation divided half slave and half free, he rose to deliver his first Inaugural and said, "We are not enemies, but friends... Though passion may have strained, it must not break our bonds of affection."
Even in the eyes of confederate soldiers, he saw the face of God.
Remember William Wilberforce, whose Christian faith led him to seek slavery's abolition in Britain; he was vilified, derided, attacked; but he called for "lessening prejudices conciliating good-will, and thereby making way for the less obstructed progress of truth."
In the eyes of those who sought to silence a nation's conscience, he saw the face of God.
Yes, there are crimes of conscience that call us to action. Yes, there are causes that move our hearts and offenses that stir our souls. But progress doesn't come when we demonize opponents. It's not born in righteous spite. Progress comes when we open our hearts, when we extend our hands, when we recognize our common humanity. Progress comes when we look into the eyes of another and see the face of God. That we might do so -- that we will do so all the time, not just some of the time -- is my fervent prayer for our nation and the world.
Thank you, God bless you, and God bless the United States of America
6. He knows them all too well. Why do you think he said all this to them? Calling them out on hypocrisy
... this way?
What would be the point of letting a liberal and/or LGBT audience know he's opposed to discriminating against and killing gays? We know this already.
Instead he takes a liberal-Christian religious viewpoint to this venue founded by and dominated by radical-right-wing Christians. Bush used the language of faith to his political advantage to keep the sheep following him. Let's see if Obama, too, can use the bully pulpit as a ... pulpit. A liberal and progressive one.
He was dead-serious about his faith and citizenship, btw.
2. I wish it could be like that, but unfortunately, I question the motives of virtually all repubs
Edited on Thu Feb-04-10 11:14 AM by abq e streeter
and most Democrats. Actually a lot more than question. It's sadly obvious what the motives of most of our bought and paid for "representatives of the people" are. And it ain't the interests of "the people'. Until the majority of political "leaders" stop being two-faced, dishonest and flat out corrupt, their motives must be questioned relentlessly.
18. Never mind the rank and file morons, they'll do what their leaders tell them to.
But the repub leadership firmly believes that the word 'compromise' means 'surrender'. That's why THEY never do it, and they always expect US to do it.
YOU CANNOT COMPROMISE WITH PEOPLE WHO DON'T BELIEVE IN THE CONCEPT.
This speech was a smackdown on THEIR hypocrisy - Obama KNOWS we have given until it hurts, while they've given nothing, and any 'coming together' must come from THEIR side now, the demonization that is coming from THEIR side must stop.
This 'finding common ground' has done nothing but drag us to the right for three decades, because the only ones seeking common ground is OUR side. In fact, every time we approach it they move the line farther back. It's like Napoleon going into Russia, we will never meet them because they keep moving the goal away from us. That is how we now have so-called liberals who, thirty years ago, would have been Goldwater republicans.
22. Not so. I get it that there are polls you could use to strengthen your argument.
My opinion is based upon knocking on doors, calling, protests, meeting at farmer's markets, festivals, ferry terminals, grocery stores, garage sales, just talking to average people everywhere I meet them.
32. The desire to swing Obama & other elected Dems from lampposts is mainstream among ordinary 'Pubs.
Edited on Thu Feb-04-10 02:17 PM by burning rain
You won't hear their elected officers come out with such things. It appears you're not meeting mainstream (fascist) Republicans but some reasonable oddballs, or that they're not opening up candidly. Mainstream Republicans are mostly pissed that their congressional leaders aren't attacking Democrats with greater fury.
In almost any nasty organization, the leaders are less crazy than the rank and file, generally having more education and a greater social standing that gives them a greater need for respectability. It pays to be wary of sentimentalism over "the common man." Talk of dealing with Afghanistan and Iraq by turning them into parking lots and killing all the inhabitants, came not from the Republican leadership, but the everyday Joes.
The problem with that type of thinking is that it oversimplifies to the extreme.
And I have not just met those people, they are among my family members. My uncle is only one such example and it breaks my heart that he has always been a rabid conservative. He is otherwise a very warm and powerful human being. He is a successful CEO and bootstraps type that wouldn't acknowledge all the help he got from family if it meant giving up his every man is an island ideals. I listen carefully to him and when I challenge his "facts," opinions, Limbaugh parroting, I get calmer while he gets redder. It is not good for his health or our relationship but he is the one who seeks to engage me.
Let me be clear. Nearly every Republican in DC is obstructionist. Many average American Republicans have not heard Progressive framing and solutions. My experience when they do hear it, the response is very receptive, almost hungry for the ideas. I acknowledge the existence of average American Republicans that are so caught up in their worldview that it is not just unpleasant but next to impossible to communicate with them.
Don't want to bring Progressivism to average Americans receptive to our ideas, fine, sit it out. Act like there is nothing you can do to change that part of the American debate. Don't think for a second that you can change the world, leave it up to the people who are not frightened. If it is foolish to believe we can change the world, we are going to need a lot more people unafraid of that label.
I do not mean to be offensive but I do believe your idea reinforces self imposed impotence. I am uncertain what motivates this, maybe I misunderstand.
37. I don't believe there is overwhelming evidence that the number is that high.
If you mean those with authoritarian personality or sociopaths then sure, but that number is far smaller than you suggest. The problem with your idea is that the majority of Americans on both ends of the political spectrum strongly support progressive change when certain words are avoided.
The authoritarian types exist, they can be identified relatively easily once you start up a conversation with them and they seem to be a natural part of every population. Sociopaths are an even smaller number. Stereotyping all Republicans as one of these two types is severely restricting and ignoring opportunity.
According to Adorno's theory, the elements of the Authoritarian personality type are:
* Blind allegiance to conventional beliefs about right and wrong * Respect for submission to acknowledged authority * Belief in aggression toward those who do not subscribe to conventional thinking, or who are different * A negative view of people in general - i.e. the belief that people would all lie, cheat or steal if given the opportunity * A need for strong leadership which displays uncompromising power * A belief in simple answers and polemics - i.e. The media controls us all or The source of all our problems is the loss of morals these days. * Resistance to creative, dangerous ideas. A black and white worldview. * A tendency to project one's own feelings of inadequacy, rage and fear onto a scapegoated group * A preoccupation with violence and sex
We used the upper floor of a local tavern during the campaign, for some events like the debates and election day. The bar's owner is friendly to our sort of people, but actually to everyone. During one of the times we were there I talked with a bartender about what we were doing and he was a little non-responsive. He explained he does not talk politics, but talking about issues leaving out all the scary words like Republican, Democrat, conservative, liberal was alright with him.
So, yes, certain words are best avoided, especially when you do not know your audience. Start with something like what we all want for the community or country and proceed from there. People get all antsy if you start railing against one party or the other or inadvertently raise all their defenses by tossing labels at the start of conversation. If you are a politician and have wide support, don't be afraid to use the words though. Most folks don't even know what Progressive means, so that will probably be a safe word no matter the audience. I would prefer we take back words like liberal but the corporate media has done such a great job poisoning it that I don't often use it unless I know I am in friendly company and not even likely then.
Framing is as important as avoiding the use of certain words. It actually includes the idea of avoiding the use of certain words. For example, "tax and spend" is not just a devious, powerful and effective meme, it also activates conservative worldview. When speaking to people about Progressive or liberal policies, avoid conservative frames or risk having the message lost entirely. Many of our supposed best and brightest politicians are reinforcing conservative worldview and working against the best principles of the traditional Democratic Party.
Every minute a politician or pundit spends pleading for civility is a minute wasted. We most assuredly are a collection of red and blue states; there is a liberal America and a conservative America that are irreconcilably at odds in the near and medium term. The task for leaders is to recognize and accept the division, build a majority coalition, defeat the other side, make the defeat stick, and drag the opposition kicking and screaming into a better future for all of us. Not peddle this cuddly purple dinosaur I love you; you love me nonsense.
24. I agree only in part. Your red and blue state idea is self defeating
Howard Dean showed us the old way of looking at our differences was the real dinosaur. It is the New Dem DLC types that seem to prefer the people's preoccupation with red state blue state fight while taking their conflict for corporate dollars directly to the Republicans hoping too many little people won't notice. Kicking and screaming into a fascist state is something we all should be resisting.
35. Who would deny that? Of course, there are people who will not cooperate.
I can think of many examples in which you are wrong. Responding to emergencies or fighting side by side in the military, there are many examples where those differences are bridged.
The lower and middle classes are suffering and last I checked, there has been little discrimination between who has been affected. The circumstances that bring them together are shared.
The Red and Blue divide is a farce distracting us from the real challenges.
The elected representatives in DC are unrelenting obstructionists. If President Obama wants to reach out to Republicans he MUST take it directly to average American Republicans and that means going to their districts not just SOTU, prayer breakfasts or Republican retreats. Maybe he would prefer the safety of the cover DC provides though or he is too busy.
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