A reader writes:
I've been thinking a lot about Obama's comments and I fear they confirm much of what I've suspected about him from the very beginning: that he's an opportunistic, heavily secular left liberal who looks disdainfully on "quaint" traditional American lifestyles.
This, of course, is not a deal breaker for many people, but it is very disheartening to someone like me who has been trying his best to warm up to the idea of an Obama presidency, despite the fact that, as a Hayekian conservative/libertarian who values both freedom and religion, I'm horrified by his consistently leftist voting record. In other words, I've been trying my hardest to get to like Obama (and to reconcile myself with the view that we will have Democrats in the executive and legislative branches), and though I often disagree with you, I've been reading your blog for some glimmer of hope. (By the way, I do blame the GOP for its fall from grace; don't get me wrong. And I don't identify with the party.)
I don't want to make the mistake of inaccurately characterizing Obama due to just these comments;
I'm also too much of an Aristotelian to think that one day's good work could make a person virtuous or that some occasional crude remarks makes a person racist, sexist, vicious, and so on. But Obama's comments speak to the Marxist legacy of the belief that transforming society materially will allow people to see their true interests and thus discard the yoke of customary morality and other aspects of false consciousness--religion, of course, being on top of that list. For those of us who see religion as a reflection of one's submission to a moral authority regardless of one's material conditions, Marx's misunderstanding of religion is disturbing. But it's precisely that misunderstanding that, in my view, has animated our nation's history of progressive statism and which, in a similar form of reasoning, can also be found underlying the Iraqi invasion: it's the secular messiahship that big government liberals and conservatives share, and, I'm beginning to think, it underlies Obama's hubris.
This is not an argument for Clinton or McCain, of course, but I'm now heavily in favor of McCain. I at least want some balance of power between the executive branch and Congress and think McCain's simply the only choice left, despite my many disagreements with him, too. But I just cannot be seduced by Obama's rhetoric. I'm still surprised that you find hope in him. I just think he's playing us all.