Wednesday, February 08, 2006

Captain America v. Teen Titan: McCain Rips Obama ...

No one can really say with surety what exactly transpired between Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) to trigger what is being described (overstated) as the hottest political fight on Capitol Hill right now. And, that's really fueled by the speculation that each of these cats are mounting presidential campaigns in 2008 (Obama doing so a bit too prematurely, we might add). We can continue to speculate on it. Perhaps Obama, dipping his foot in those tempestuous political waters, needed to gauge just how cold that path to the White House is - particularly after breaking away from the sizzling heat of the superstar spotlight for a few hung-over moments.

And, some might speculate that McCain wanted to school Obama in some public fashion that essentially let the freshman Senator know that "Naw dawg - I'm the Big Man on this Campus." Simply put, McCain may have felt overshadowed by Obama, who seemed to draw some of that Hill celebrity steam McCain thought he dominated while making brief appearances in "Wedding Crashers" and more recently handing off a manila folder to Jack Bauer's ex-girlfriend in the Fox hit "24." Obama's sudden rise to political stardom somehow violates McCain's public turf.

And, there are some who will say this is a case of one respected, mighty, white-haired White Senator who wants to pick on the chamber's only Black Senator just for the racist kicks. We might agree that the media's framing of it is suspiciously juvenile: young Black kid goes to Capitol Hill and gets scolded by old White guy. Even Chris Matthews, in this attached interview, implies some sort of wrongdoing on the part of Obama when there isn't anything anybody can see as being clearly wrong. Who did what? Who said what? And, how is it right or wrong? But, seriously, Obama can't hide behind his Blackness to save him from constructive criticism - nor should any in the Black political community expect such. He's a U.S. Senator and we expect a couple more to reach that plateau in November. We'll have to accept the fact that if we expect to achieve major political success, then our political maturity must exceed the boundaries of our political Blackness.

We disagree that race is McCain's motivation. Obama has put himself out there on one of those issues that McCain wants ownership of; he's typically the go-to guy for bipartisan settlements in the Senate. This is how Senators act - like untouchable Greek gods atop Olympus. As Obama gets a littled settled, he'll figure that out ...

Whatever the reason, it's not clear in the Senate Speak of both letters. And, if neither Senator is using this issue for "political posturing," then why make the letters and the whole affair public in the first place?

Is this really worth the headline? Probably not. We've been seeing a lot more important, substantive stuff coming out of Obama's office than just scribbled notes across the chamber. It'd be nice if he got a headline or two on that.