Refugees 1

Now for a look at the thoughts of a leftist intellectual.

Hold your nose. It’s a junk-pile of sentimentality, self-congratulation, pious do-goodery, elitist classical allusion, and heavy emotion.

They are the thoughts of Joe Klein, writing at Time online. He is criticizing President Obama for not doing his job of governing. But would the way Klein thinks that job should be done be any improvement on Obama’s doing nothing?

Klein starts by saying:

It’s time to stop running away from the nation’s troubles.

He means that’s what President Obama should do – stop running away. He doesn’t go so far as to say that Obama had a hand in causing the troubles.

The trouble he turns to is the case of the child immigrants streaming illegally into the US from Central America. He calls them “refugees”. He paints a touching scene of what’s going on at the border.

A woman named Libby Casanova brings her four children to volunteer every day. She is a pathologist in the real world but does intake at the center; she’s the first person the refugees encounter. “Many of them start to cry when they hear the applause,” she says. “They are so grateful.”

What applause? Who are they who applaud Lily Casanova and her four children when they arrive daily to tend to the “refugees”?*

In Klein’s mind – and probably  in the mind of the charitable mother-of-four – the “refugees” are humble petitioners, overflowing with gratitude to their benefactors. It must make Klein feel good by proxy.

Never mind who applauds. Get the picture as Joe Klein sees it and would have his readers see it:

Casanova brought her children on the first day so they could see that not everyone was as fortunate as they are – and the kids insisted on coming back and volunteering every day.

Rosy-faced little Christian saints. Christian? Yes, a nun pops into the picture:

“This place is making the entire community stronger,” Sister Norma says. And there is an infectious spiritual joy in the air. As Sister Norma says, “Jesus did not say, ‘I was hungry and you asked for my papers.’ “

Pause to overcome nausea. Then on:

Barack Obama should see the Catholic Charities mission in McAllen. He should also have a town meeting with the Tea Party nativists who are so angry and threatened by the rush of refugees – 43,933 unaccompanied children alone since October – who began to appear from Honduras, El Salvador and Guatemala.

And here comes more criticism of Obama:

His job, after all, is to rise above the rancor and, well, lead. You don’t do this by making a speech to a favored audience. You do it by taking action, setting a personal example. All sorts of Protestant congregations are sending volunteers to Sacred Heart – perhaps he could encourage a Tea Party group to do the same. The President has gone to the scene of other human tragedies. He has acknowledged the suffering personally in the past.

What scenes of human tragedy has he gone to? Whose suffering has he acknowledged? Not the choking to death of Ambassador Chris Stevens. Osama bin Laden’s perhaps?

But not now, and you have to wonder why.

True political courage is near extinct. I saw the real thing for the first time on the night of April 4, 1968, when riots broke out across the country after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr. Senator Robert Kennedy decided to go into the heart of the Indianapolis ghetto – he was running for President at the time – and talk to the people. His aides and the local police pleaded with him not to do it. He was putting his life in danger, but he believed he had a responsibility to show up. He spoke for only five minutes, without a text – you can watch it on YouTube – and he calmed the crowd by quoting Aeschylus about the experience of excruciating pain that leads to deeper wisdom. Indianapolis was one of the few major cities that remained quiet that night.

There’s a lesson for us all. To calm a seething mob, quote Aeschylus at it. Calms it in minutes. 

Nowadays politicians are swaddled by their media consultants, who determine whether it is “safe” to be “courageous”. But acts of courage don’t come with a money-back guarantee. They are courageous because they’re potentially dangerous or, more likely, embarrassing. Courage’s reward comes subtly, in the form of trust as the public learns that a politician is willing to take risks to tell the truth. Obama is currently wandering about the country, trying to meet average people, but the choreography is more stringent than the Bolshoi’s. He said he didn’t want to go to the border because it would only be a “photo op” … on the same day his office published a photo of the President and Colorado Governor John Hickenlooper shooting pool. Who choreographed that? …

The last bit makes sense. Why is a photo of the President playing pool okay, but one of him looking into smelly warehouses where heaps of diseased teens are awaiting charity from church or state not okay?

These are precisely the sort of things that Obama doesn’t seem to do anymore. There has been a skein of stories indicating he’s thrown in the towel. He’s so tired of head-banging with Republicans that he has taken refuge in late-night dinners with celebrities and intellectuals.

“Refuge in late-night dinners with celebrities and intellectuals”? Refuge from Republicans! Phew! Ya gotta feel for the guy! He’s a refugee too. Perhaps Lily Casanova and her rosy kids could visit him and cast their love-light upon him. And Sister Norma. And delegates from Protestant congregations.

Robert Kennedy did a lot of that too. But Kennedy never gave the impression that politics was distasteful, beneath him, as Obama too frequently does. Kennedy was all about passion; Obama seems all about decorum.

We haven’t noticed the decorum. We think decorum might be quite a good thing in a president. Klein doesn’t. He prefers and recommends passion.

He needs to go to the border – on a lot of issues. If he’s going to accomplish anything in the last two years of his presidency, he’s going to have to change his style, which will be near impossible for a man as entrenched behind his flacks-in-jackets as the President is. He’s right about photo ops. Enough already. But there are other “ops” – study ops, passion ops, conversation ops. He needs to do something dramatic to win back the country.

Oh no! Please not “something dramatic”! No more floodlit speeches among fake temple columns. No more apologizing to Islam from a platform in Cairo. No more healing the planet, calming the seas, walking on water! Let him sleep. Let him play pool. And golf. Let him dine with celebrities and intellectuals deep into the small hours of the morning. Wish only that the remaining two and a half years of his presidency pass without the entire globe going up in flames while he dines and plays.

 

* Apparently “the entire staff” of the “processing center on the grounds of the Sacred Heart Church” applaud each “family” as it arrives. We missed that in his second paragraph. Because we didn’t read it. It was a tough read and we shirked some parts of it. 

Posted under Commentary, liberalism, Progressivism, United States by Jillian Becker on Friday, July 18, 2014

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  • liz

    Yes, that really did take a lot of pausing to overcome nausea.
    Very revealing of how leftists have managed to take over – with useful idiots like Klein worshipping at their feet, still mentally stuck in the 60’s and a romantic dream of the Civil Rights movement (he’s so proud to have been present when a Kennedy Spoke -oooh!), it’s no wonder.
    He’s the secular version of the equally useful idiot Christians and their romantic ideal of Jesus helping the poor strangers. “Spiritual joy” isn’t the only infectious thing they’ll be contracting, no doubt.
    Courage? Spare me. Being a leftist does not take courage. Exactly the opposite, in fact. Real courage would be someone finally standing up to Obama or Holder and calling a spade a spade. – Since when is hating communists racist?