Thursday, January 24, 2008

Here's your Parallel

I was just having my coffee and looking over this week's New Yorker, which features a long article about the different visions Clinton and Obama have of the presidency; for Hillary, it's a platform to hammer through legislation and acheive a list of goals, whether the rest of the country follows along or not. Obama gets a number of comparisons to Bobby Kennedy, somebody who effortlessly inspires people, especially younger people, and whose candidacy is about transformation.

Then I came into my room and jumped on the computer, where one of the lead stories on ESPN is this:
Jim Brown, all time great running back and bad-ass, blasts Tiger Woods for his late and subdued response to the "lynch" controversy. (If you're not familiar, some lady on the Golf Channel, in response to banter about how Tiger could ever be stopped, tried to make a joke about lynching him in a back alley and failed, miserably. There's no way this joke could succeed, but these things happen when you speak live for a living.)

Jim Brown, like Hillary, is a progressive warrior from a different era. The interesting thing is, Tiger and Obama both represent their dream -- people with non-white skin who have freely succeeded because of their sheer talent. But Brown and Clinton are so grounded in the wars of the past that they can never move past that. Obama and Woods are doing all they can to be the change they desire in the world, but it's not enough. Despite the fact that both are multiracial, both are subject to charges that they aren't "black enough," or don't do enough to speak out on those issues.

On a practical level, Tiger has a ton to lose by becoming a political spokesman. He isn't on a team full of other guys to take the pressure off him, and Buick isn't going to be as happy to cast him in ads if he becomes a political spark. But while we owe all a debt of gratitude to the older generation, I think Tiger is correct to integrate through success rather than re-igniting civil tension.

I see the same thing in the Hillary campaign. The New Yorker author talked about the part of her personality that annoyed him -- the intense, almost righteous desire to seek out and crush all conspiracy and opposition. Our present situation is far from perfect, but it's better than it was in the 60's. Nobody will ever fulfill the dream while the people in power are still consumed by the bitterness of the past, and the only one who can move past it is Obama.

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