In 1975, he wrote a story (not really science fiction) called “Sierra Maestra” which takes place about now in a penthouse apartment above a riot-torn Manhattan. In that apartment, a progressive radical clique plots to take over America; they do it by having spent the last twenty-five years working their way to positions of incredible prominence – running General Motors, richest financier in the country, Senator, Governor. Their entire lives to that point had been dissembling so that they could attain the positions they wanted to have on this day and move to make change.
I get a creepy reminder of that story when I read things like this about Obama:
The last time I spoke to Obama was in the winter of 2004 at a gathering in Chicago’s Hyde Park neighborhood. He was in the midst of a primary campaign to secure the Democratic nomination for the United States Senate seat he now occupies. But at that time polls showed him trailing.
As he came in from the cold and took off his coat, I went up to greet him. He responded warmly, and volunteered, “Hey, I’m sorry I haven’t said more about Palestine right now, but we are in a tough primary race. I’m hoping when things calm down I can be more up front.” He referred to my activism, including columns I was contributing to the The Chicago Tribune critical of Israeli and US policy, “Keep up the good work!”
Mr. Wright said that in the phone conversation in which Mr. Obama disinvited him from a role in the announcement, Mr. Obama cited an article in Rolling Stone, “The Radical Roots of Barack Obama.”
According to the pastor, Mr. Obama then told him, “You can get kind of rough in the sermons, so what weâ€™ve decided is that itâ€™s best for you not to be out there in public.”
I can understand why these things would make conservatives – and many moderates – hyperventilate.Because they think that what they are seeing is a real-life re-enactment of Spinrad’s story.
Now that’s not necessarily true; I have a diverse body of friends and lots of friends who I don’t mix together – deliberately, out of courtesy and respect to each. I can understand how Obama could face the same issue, writ far larger.
And I’ll note that in the story, Spinrad approves of the plotters who plan to rescue a collapsing United States.
But the one thing Obama needs to do – and did not do, in spite of some excellent sleight of hand in his speech last week – is explain the arc of his beliefs and how it is that he’s comfortable with Rev. Wright and uncomfortable with some of Rev. Wright’s core beliefs.
I’m still standing on his side of the line – along with lots and lots of people like me – and if he wants to nail my feet to the floor here, this is the first and most important thing he needs to do.