The Audacity Of Hype.

Barack Obama Runs Scary, GMA Runs Scared?

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Writers and candidates and the opposition could all learn from front-running US presidential hopeful Barack Obama: He started campaigning when he was only in Grade 3, and started hyping himself in 1995 through a book, even before he became Senator. Now he’s hyping himself as the only hope of his country. When you dream big, you have to hype yourself to be up to it. That’s scary.

My President, Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo, is being hyped by the individuals & those united in their opposition (the Intuit Opposition) as the Philippines’ only obstruction to peace and prosperity in my country. When you dream big, you have to hype yourself against somebody bigger than you are. But like GMA, the Intuit Opposition don’t scare me, I’m afraid.

In 1995, as a creative writer, Obama authored Dreams From My Father: A Story Of Race And Inheritance, an autobiography, published by Three Rivers Press (480 pages, reissued 2004). Some 11 years later, in 2006, he wrote Audacity Of Hope: Thoughts On Reclaiming The American Dream, also published by Three Rivers Press (375 pages). Both books are bestsellers; they show that language is a necessary tool for winning people to your side, even if all you have done as Senator is write 1 book and 0 legislation. More than a picture, a book is worth much more than a thousand words if you know how to write. Obama knows. Look at the titles of his books, and you will know he has the gift of language. Look at his campaign slogan: ‘Change we can believe in.’ If you have the gift, flaunt it.

In the Philippines, the Intuit Opposition, I’m glad to say, are not one bit of Barack Obama. The Intuits don’t have dreams from their fathers – only GMA has, from her father Diosdado Macapagal, who became a good President of his country. What the Intuits have in common with BO is the audacity of hope of becoming President, except they don’t have BO’s gift of gab. What they have is the gift of grab.

The Black darling of TV hosts Oprah Winfrey herself says Barack Obama has ‘an ear for eloquence and a tongue dipped in the unvarnished truth’ (BBC, news.bbc.co.uk). Nowadays, truth scares me. Truth, ah, how many crimes have been committed in thy name! That is when we invoke the truth, we invoke the truth and nothing but the truth, so help us God. But God, when you’re running determinedly for President of the United States of America, or when the determined Intuit Opposition are going against you as President of the Republic of the Philippines, truth is not enough. Or you haven’t heard of The Rotary 4-Way Test:

Of the things we think, say or do:
1. Is it the TRUTH?
2. Is it FAIR to all concerned?
3. Will it build GOODWILL and BETTER FRIENDSHIPS?
4. Will it be BENEFICIAL TO ALL concerned?

Now then, more into the mind of Barack Obama. Since I don’t have (can’t afford) a copy of any of BO’s books, I’ll confine myself to the excerpt from his Audacity Of Hope by Time (time.com), and while I am in Manila and have stopped reading local newspapers since 27 years ago, I’ll rely on the Internet for news on the Philippines.

Lawyer Neri Colmenares was the main speaker of the forum ‘Truth’s Consequence: Setting Things Right’ at the St Jerome Bible Center, Seminario Mayor de San Carlos in Mabolo. The lawyer said some groups, who admire Jun Lozada’s courage and honesty in spilling the beans (against the First Gentleman regarding the controversial RP-China $329 million national broadband network deal), suggested that Lozada sit as President of the Philippines if Arroyo and Vice President Noli de Castro decide to step down (inquirer.net).

The Intuit Opposition are daydreaming! And they would be accuser, judge and executioner. What is the truth about Jun Lozada’s allegations? To force GMA to resign for the alleged sin of someone else (her husband) is not Rotary fair, not Rotary goodwill, not Rotary beneficial, not Rotary better.

In 1970, when he was in Grade 3 and living with his American mother and Indonesian foster father in Jakarta, Indonesia, in an essay on what he would like to be when he grew up, his teacher Fermine Katarina Sinaga says Barack Obama wrote that he ‘wanted to be President,’ that ‘he wanted to make everybody happy’ (March 25, 2007, Kristen Schamberg & Kim Barker, ‘The not-so-simple story of Barack Obama’s youth, chicagotribune.com). The early boy gets the worm?

In the Philippines, the Intuit Opposition want to become President and want to make everybody happy – everybody except GMA, except Vice President Noli de Castro, except those who believe in GMA, except those who believe in the rule of law, except those who believe that the Intuit Opposition is all Metro Manila noise barrage, except those who do not believe in trial by publicity, except those who practice Christianity by neither casting the first stone (nor the second, nor the third, nor the last).

Combine finesse of language with an unfinished ambition and you have a candidate who may yet be the first Black American President of the United States of America.

Combine the lack of finesse of the Intuit Opposition with their unfinished business and you only have ambition (and dirty linens) hanging in the air.

In the US, according to Ali Gharib (February 29, ipsnews.net), Obama is winning, ‘driven by fervent youth support and a coalition of African-American voters and middle-class whites.’

In the Philippines, youth groups have intensified calls for the ouster of GMA (pinoypress.net). The youth are driven by fervent adult support I call here the Intuit Opposition and a coalition of the willing to believe that to accuse him is to prove her guilt. My God! The Intuit Opposition have neither the gift of gab nor the gift of logic.

Obama’s inspiration for his second book, Audacity Of Hope, is ‘a leftist black nationalist preacher, Jeremiah A Wright, who preaches African-American unity through antipathy toward whites’ (March 26, 2007, ‘Obama’s identity crisis,’ Steve Sailer, amconmag.com). That’s scary. Obama borrowed the title of that book from one of Wright’s sermons. Everybody steals. He has been likened to him, but BO is not an original like JFK was.

I don’t know of the inspiration of the Intuit Opposition, which includes the Black & White Movement, except now I can see their lack of respect for the Rotary knowledge of good and evil, which is certainly not black & white.

When Obama became in 1990 the first African-American Editor of the Harvard Law Review, Random House gave him a book contract. ‘Originally, he intended to write a disquisition on race relations, but the puerility of his theorizing discouraged him’ (Sailer as cited, my italics). So Barack Obama wrote instead about Barack Obama: Dreams From My Father.

The puerility of the theorizing of the Intuit Opposition in the Philippines should discourage anyone from supporting them. Else, one of them better write Dreams Of Empire From My Father while the Intuit iron is hot, and it may become an Obamian bestseller. That would be entrepreneurship.

He is a good writer, Barack Obama is; in Audacity Of Hope, he writes that a medical doctor emailed him, trying to change his mind about abortion (time.com):

Neither my mind nor my heart changed that day, nor did they in the days to come. But I did have that family in mind as I wrote back to the doctor and thanked him for his email. The next day, I had the language on my website changed to state in clear but simple terms my pro-choice position.

Obama is pro-choice, that is, if I get it right, he believes that the right of the individual takes precedence over the right of anybody else, including the rights of the families of the mother and the father, including the right to life of an unborn baby. Sorry, BO, but a million women’s need each to have an abortion fails the Rotary test a million times.

In fact, BO fears for the rights of individuals in ‘an assertively Christian nation!’ Read on:

Democrats, meanwhile, are scrambling to ‘get religion,’ even as a core segment of our constituency remains stubbornly secular in orientation, and fears – rightly, no doubt – that the agenda of an assertively Christian nation may not make room for them or their life choices.

It looks like Barack Obama equates religion with substance, instead of things hoped for; it seems BO equates religion with evidence, instead of things not seen. And does he see himself as someone who would supply the need of Americans for a sense of purpose, instead of them seeking it for themselves?

Each day, it seems, thousands of Americans are going about their daily rounds – dropping off the kids at school, driving to the office, flying to a business meeting, shopping at the mall, trying to stay on their diets – and coming to the realization that something is missing. They are deciding that their work, their possessions, their diversions, their sheer busyness are not enough. They want a sense of purpose, a narrative arc to their lives, something that will relieve a chronic loneliness or lift them above the exhausting, relentless toll of daily life. They need an assurance that somebody out there cares about them, is listening to them – that they are not just destined to travel down a long highway toward nothingness.

It seems to me that Barack sees the need of Americans for their God to say He cares about them, and not that His people care about Him and therefore obey His commandments:

I am the Lord your God. You shall not have strange gods before me.
You shall not take the name of the Lord your God in vain.
Remember to keep holy the Sabbath.
Honor your father and your mother.
You shall not kill.
You shall not commit adultery.
You shall not steal.
You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s wife.
You shall not covet your neighbor’s goods.

God, help us because we’re helpless.

In our household the Bible, the Koran, and the Bhagavad Gita sat on the shelf alongside books of Greek and Norse and African mythology. On Easter or Christmas day my mother might drag me to church, just as she dragged me to the Buddhist temple, the Chinese New Year celebration, the Shinto shrine, and ancient Hawaiian burial sites. But I was made to understand that such religious samplings required no sustained commitment on my part.

Religion to Obama’s mother Ann Dunham was only an object of anthropological study. Religion is not a serious matter; religion is only theory, not practice; or, if practice, not best practice.

Religion was an expression of human culture, she would explain, not its wellspring, just one of the many ways – and not necessarily the best way – that man attempted to control the unknowable and understand the deeper truths about our lives.

I am glad to report that religion in the Philippines is a matter of theory and best practice. The Catholic Bishops’ Conference of the Philippines (CBCP) are not calling for GMA to resign (newsflash.org). Their explanation? They are not into politics. No, of course not! The CBCP are not throwing any stone at anybody. But they are not telling anyone not to cast aspersions or throw stones at somebody called GMA. The CBCP are not perfect either.

Religion was not a reliable standard of truth to Obama’s mother. And he believed her to be right:

And yet for all her professed secularism, my mother was in many ways the most spiritually awakened person that I’ve ever known. She had an unswerving instinct for kindness, charity, and love, and spent much of her life acting on that instinct, sometimes to her detriment. Without the help of religious texts or outside authorities, she worked mightily to instill in me the values that many Americans learn in Sunday school: honesty, empathy, discipline, delayed gratification, and hard work. She raged at poverty and injustice.

I understand it was Obama’s mother’s instinct and not some higher authority or force that was the determiner of what is kindness, charity, love – and he adored her for that. Her values were perfect for him:

It is only in retrospect, of course, that I fully understand how deeply this spirit of hers guided me on the path I would ultimately take. It was in search of confirmation of her values that I studied political philosophy, looking for both a language and systems of action that could help build community and make justice real. And it was in search of some practical application of those values that I accepted work after college as a community organizer for a group of churches in Chicago that were trying to cope with joblessness, drugs, and hopelessness in their midst.

How can you work for a group of churches when you believe in secularism? I don’t know. Ask Barack Obama, the individualist:

My work with the pastors and laypeople there deepened my resolve to lead a public life, but it also forced me to confront a dilemma that my mother never fully resolved in her own life: the fact that I had no community or shared traditions in which to ground my most deeply held beliefs. The Christians with whom I worked recognized themselves in me; they saw that I knew their Book and shared their values and sang their songs. But they sensed that a part of me remained removed, detached, an observer among them. I came to realize that without an unequivocal commitment to a particular community of faith, I would be consigned at some level to always remain apart, free in the way that my mother was free, but also alone in the same ways she was ultimately alone.

So what did Obama do? He joined a black church, meaning a black nationalist church, if only spiritually.

In such a life I, too, might have contented myself had it not been for the particular attributes of the historically black church, attributes that helped me shed some of my skepticism and embrace the Christian faith.

For one thing, I was drawn to the power of the African-American religious tradition to spur social change. Out of necessity, the black church had to minister to the whole person. Out of necessity, the black church rarely had the luxury of separating individual salvation from collective salvation. It had to serve as the center of the community’s political, economic, and social as well as spiritual life; it understood in an intimate way the biblical call to feed the hungry and clothe the naked and challenge powers and principalities. In the history of these struggles, I was able to see faith as more than just a comfort to the weary or a hedge against death; rather, it was an active, palpable agent in the world.

To Barack Obama, it is the church that is the agent of change in society; if I understand Catholicism at all, it is the individual who is the agent of change himself (embracing herself).

It was because of these newfound understandings – that religious commitment did not require me to suspend critical thinking, disengage from the battle for economic and social justice, or otherwise retreat from the world that I knew and loved – that I was finally able to walk down the aisle of Trinity United Church of Christ one day and be baptized.

I say, if you do not suspend critical thinking, your religious attachment will wash away with the first rainy day that comes your way. While faith does not erode reason, reason erodes faith. Science and religion don’t mix. Liberalism and Christianity don’t mix. Either I didn’t know that Christ came for economic and social justice, or I don’t know your Christ.

In my country the Philippines? Same banana. The Intuit Opposition are speaking of economic and social justice, but not of Christ, not of being Christians.

Yesterday, March 4, I was accosted on the campus I was visiting by two boys, not too young, one with a cell phone with a camera, and that one asked me if I didn’t mind being on video for a class assignment. History. Ah. 3 minutes? He was going to ask me only one question, and it was: ‘What is Christianity?’ I thought, this is not coincidence. I said, more or less, thinking fast:

Christianity must be about Jesus Christ and the commandments of God. You must obey at least the two greatest commandments. The first is to love God. The second is to love your neighbor as yourself. I’m not sure of the exact words. Now, some people are condemning some people. What did Jesus Christ say to the mob when he was accosted with the woman caught in adultery? ‘He who is without sin, cast the first stone.’ We are all sinners! Do not condemn! That is Christianity.

As I spoke to the cell phone, I showed I was a little angry and increased the volume of my voice. I was thinking of GMA and the Intuit Opposition. I was thinking of renewal.

Renewal is what we all need. What is the answer to renewal? Barack’s Republican opponent in 2004 was Alan Keyes, and he had the answer that Obama rejected:

His (Keyes’) argument went something like this: America was founded on the twin principles of God-given liberty and Christian faith. Successive liberal administrations had hijacked the federal government to serve a godless materialism and had thereby steadily chipped away at individual liberty and traditional values. The answer to American renewal was simple: Restore religion generally – and Christianity in particular – to its rightful place at the center of our public and private lives and align the law with religious precepts.

I find that I agree with the opponent of Barack Obama, that Keyes is talking more sense than BO is making. I want to tell the Intuit Opposition that the answer to Philippine renewal is simple: Restore religion generally – and Christianity in particular – to its rightful place at the center of our public and private lives and align the law with religious precepts, not have the religious precepts align with the law. Morality must be above the law. Morality is what the Rotary 4-Way Test is all about. BO fails the Rotary test; so does the Intuit Opposition in the Philippines. Nobody is perfect. Now don’t tell me you are the savior of my country!

His wife Michelle says of him: ‘Barack Obama is the only person in this race who understands that before we can work on the problems, we have to fix our souls. Our souls are broken in this nation’ (ipsnews.net). Yes, Ma’am! Including the souls of Barack Obama and the Intuit Opposition.

Why have I written what I have written (try ‘The Stonecasters’ and ‘An Inconvenient Troth’), and why am I writing this, and why am I writing more after this? You see, I have the audacity of hope.

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2 Comments on “The Audacity Of Hype.”


  1. […] post info By frankahilario Categories: Quip Unquip and Quote Unquote Selections from my Franciscan essays (hover cursor over link for source or click for full article) ‘The Audacity Of Hype. Barack Obama Runs Scary, GMA Runs Scared?’ […]


  2. […] I wasn’t minding the act as much as the actor and what he was acting out (see my ‘The Audacity of Hype’ and ‘A Fractured Hero’ and ‘100. The Original Jun Lozada Jokes,’ […]


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