A Response to an Obama Victory: “What an Amazing Country”

by James M. Wall

Maybe you have to be a Boomer to really appreciate this clip.  But anyone is welcome to watch.

Ron Howard started as a kid fishing with the sheriff.  Now he is a famous movie director.  The other day he took time off to make a short movie. 

Listen for the theme music. Ron’s little film should bring back memories to those who remember Opie, Andy and the Fonz.  

After you view Ron’s video, take a moment to reflect on the impact of an Obama victory on November 4. Will it be a victory that rejects the toxicity the New York Times’ Gail Collins identifies along the campaign trail?  Or. will negative campaigning prevail again, as it did in 2000 and 2004? Here is Collins:

. . . Opening for a McCain rally in North Carolina last weekend, Representative Robin Hayes said he wanted “to keep the crowd as respectful as possible.”

In order to pursue that goal as efficiently as possible, Hayes then announced that “liberals hate real Americans that work and accomplish and achieve and believe in God.” This was an especially unfortunate turn of phrase given the fact that he had begun his remarks by saying he wanted to “make sure we don’t say something stupid.”

All this was a direct outgrowth of Sarah Palin’s own comments in North Carolina, in which she praised the “pro-America” areas of the country. But Hayes had clearly been absent for the day in scurrilous campaign school when they explain that you aren’t supposed to specifically name the anti-American parts. . . .

Collins calls our attention to even more toxicity which emmated from an interview on the Chris Matthews Hardball program where Representative Michele Bachmann of Minnesota launched into what Collins calls her “Obama/terrorist spin when she suggested that the news media should investigate ‘the views of the people in Congress and find out: Are they pro-America or anti-America.’

Matthews later ran a clip from Bachmann’s Democratic opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg, who had been lagging far behind Bachmann in the polls and in money raised.  

After Bachmann divided the nation into people who are pro-America and anti-America, Tinklenberg received close to $1 million in contribution. His poll numbers improved immediately.  Bachmann also lost support from the Republican National Committee, which withdrew its support from her campaign.

Tinklenberg and Bachmann are running in the Minnesota Sixth District, a race to follow on November 4. And a word for you religiously-inclined readers, Tinklenberg is a United Methodist clergyman.

Now back to the top of the ticket: What would be the international impact of an Obama victory? Nicholas D. Kristof offers one answer in a conversation he shared in a recent New York Times column:

The other day I had a conversation with a Beijing friend and I mentioned that Barack Obama was leading in the presidential race:

She: Obama? But he’s the black man, isn’t he?

Me: Yes, exactly.

She: But surely a black man couldn’t become president of the United States?

Me: It looks as if he’ll be elected.

She: But president? That’s such an important job! In America, I thought blacks were janitors and laborers.

Me: No, blacks have all kinds of jobs.

She: What do white people think about that, about getting a black president? Are they upset? Are they angry?

Me: No, of course not! If Obama is elected, it’ll be because white people voted for him.

[Long pause.]

She: Really? Unbelievable! What an amazing country!

We’re beginning to get a sense of how Barack Obama’s political success could change global perceptions of the United States, redefining the American “brand” to be less about Guantánamo and more about equality. . . . 

Think about it. Less than two weeks before election day and many states offer early voting.  Is every member of your family voting early?  If not, what sort of parent are you?

About wallwritings

From 1972 through 1999, James M. Wall was editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine, based in Chicago, lllinois. He was a Contributing Editor of the Century from 1999 until July, 2017. He has written this blog, wall writings.me, since it was launched April 27, 2008. If you would like to receive Wall Writings alerts when new postings are added to this site, send a note, saying, Please Add Me, to jameswall8@gmail.com Biography: Journalism was Jim's undergraduate college major at Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia. He has earned two MA degrees, one from Emory, and one from the University of Chicago, both in religion. He is an ordained United Methodist clergy person. He served for two years in the US Air Force, and three additional years in the USAF reserve. While serving on active duty with the Alaskan Command, he reached the rank of first lieutenant. He has worked as a sports writer for both the Atlanta Journal and Constitution, was editor of the United Methodist magazine, Christian Advocate for ten years, and editor and publisher of the Christian Century magazine for 27 years. James M Wall died March 22, 2021 at age 92. His family appreciates all of his readers, even those who may have disagreed with his well-informed writings.
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2 Responses to A Response to an Obama Victory: “What an Amazing Country”

  1. Sue Roegge says:

    A former governor of MN, Arne Carlson, has now endorsed Barack citing Michele Bachmann’s comments as one reason.

    I am not in her district and I don’t feel like she’s embarassing all of Minnesota because every state has kooks.(Jesse, now HE was embarrasing!) But I was really, really mad about her comments.She had extreme views anyway but I give credit to McCain’s campaign for creating this environment.

    I’ve been making campaign calls for her opponent, Elwyn Tinklenberg. By the way, he’s a former Transportation Commissioner (NOT when the bridge fell! That commissioner was fired and then got a job with Homeland Security…..I’m not kidding)

    Tinklenberg is a minister and I think he’s a mayor right now.

    About your comment about getting your kids to vote. I sent my 18 yr old off to college with a voter registration form , the absentee ballot request AND a stamped envelope for the Secretary of State. I even highlited everywhere he had to sign. He has succsessfully returned his ballot to MN.

    On a completely side note regarding our Senate Race between Norm Coleman, Al Franken and Indep. Dean Barkeley. Norm Coleman would NOT have been elected 6 years ago except for the fact that Paul Wellstone tragically lost his life.

    Walter Mondale was wonderful to step into the race but it was a little too late and the Republicans totally exploited the supposed exploitation of Wellstone’s Memorial service.

    Which angered Al Franken so much that is one reason he cites for being in the race now!(technically he is in the race for many more important reasons but he was mad)

  2. Pingback: Yes, Mr. President-Elect, This is Truly an Amazing Country «

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