Obama, change and personal safety

A short while back, the New York Times carried a piece about concerns over Sen. Obama’s safety as he gets deeper and deeper into his run for the presidency. This wasn’t the first story I had read about this, but it’s the one that got me thinking the most.

So as I read the article, I jotted down my thoughts, which I’m basically going to regurgitate here. Forgive me for both any disorganization and anything that comes off as crass, offensive or tasteless. That’s obviously not my intent; I’m eager to have what I think could be a fascinating, important discussion.

The basic line of thinking goes like this: Obama has promised nothing if not change. Change scares people. He’s also not white, and that scares some “people.” I use the word “people” loosely in this context because, in the case of these types, a ruling on actual human status is pending.

This premise led me to several thoughts and questions, ranging in subject from journalistic ethics to campaign tactics and other related areas. Here are some of them. I hope you all will continue the discussion below.

What is the presumed motivation for these potential harm-doers? Rasicm? Fear of change? Desire to exert some sick sort of control or authority? A twisted compulsion to protect the nation’s security (based on the assumption that a liberal President Obama would put the United States in a weaker position in the world)?

If Sen. Obama is indeed capable of bringing about such great change, do we acknowledge this horrifying possibility and elect him despite the potential danger this change puts him in?

As a journalist, does continuing to write about this topic create an issue where little substance exists? Has there actually been a threat yet or just a large amount of security in hopes of preventing trouble? We know that Obama has been accompanied by Secret Service security detail since an earlier date than other president candidate in history, and there’s likely a reason for that. We also know that many journalists covering this issue defend their actions by making the focus of the story “regular people” who express these concerns in discussions at Obama rallies and whatnot. So they’re not push-polling the issue, if I can bastardize that bastard of a phrase, but does it warrant further attention short of further developments?

OK, so this one borders on crass: Does the danger, driven (presumably) by his promise of change, acknowledge that Obama “owns” the whole angle of “I’ll bring about change,” which Sen. Clinton has also tried to convey on and off for months? If Clinton were more compelling in promising change, would she be in danger as well?

Why isn’t Clinton in similar danger for being a woman? Is that not a big deal in the eyes of the crazed potential danger-doers?

Let’s just pretend ethics and decency play no part in president campaign communication (need we pretend?): Could Obama’s people gain from saying, “If he’s destined to be martyr, that’s the price that must be paid…” Wouldn’t that be wild?

Again, my only goal here is to share thoughts I had while considering this mind-boggling concept. What do you think?

9 thoughts on “Obama, change and personal safety

  1. The job of US president is one of the most dangerous in the world.

    Think about it: 43 presidents, 3 deaths by assassination. That’s a fatality rate of about 8%.

    That’s a higher fatality rate than for a front-line soldier in World War 2.

  2. Kelly Groehler says:

    I suspect the backlash to Hillary would present itself inevitably, but not as publicly as the racial backlash if Obama is our next president.

    I’m inclined to think the Obama threat is indeed greater because racism has been pretty open in this country. Sexism, not so much. If Obama wins, we’ll see whackjobs in hoods on the media circuit, exercising their consitutional right to stupidity by publicly rallying against Obama because of his skin. And we’ll see more public displays of hate.

    But I don’t think you’ll see something that overt if Hillary wins the ticket – because misogynists and abusers usually aren’t public about their beliefs that women are deferior. Hillary becoming president will empower women in general, across all racial and cultural populations. And that’ll scare men who abuse even more than having her in the office.

    The backlash, I fear, will sadly happen in the home, verbally and physcially.

    (And for anyone who even thinks a “hey, women abuse men, too” response is warranted, save it: http://www.endabuse.org/resources/facts/DomesticViolence.pdf)

  3. That’s a good observation, Kelly. I would tend to agree, although I’ll admit that my first-hand knowledge of outright sexists and racists is rather limited.

    On a lighter note, I had always hoped this election would bring us a Hillary-Condi showdown. Could you imagine the chaos? A woman on one side and an African-American woman — who’s a Republican — on the other! What would the Old Boys’ Club to with itself?

  4. jloveland says:

    Along with the black issue, there is the “nearly Muslim” issue.

    Note today’s “he’s Muslim-esque” story du jour came from a Member of Congress:

    “An Iowa Republican congressman said Friday that terrorists would be “dancing in the streets” if Democratic candidate Barack Obama were to win the presidency.

    Rep. Steve King based his prediction on Obama’s pledge to pull troops out of Iraq, his Kenyan heritage and his middle name, Hussein.

    ‘The radical Islamists, the al-Qaida … would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11 because they would declare victory in this war on terror,’ King said in an interview with the Daily Reporter in Spencer.”

  5. Oh, that’s right! The “nearly Muslim” issue! How could I forget.

    Also, another reason to not vote for Obama and to fear his political success: he wears his socks inside out. Seriously. I read it in an e-mail.

  6. hal9000 says:

    jloveland the Associated Press Article you have a link to is now removed, unavailable – is it CENSORED? May it be the beginning of the end for a free press in America?

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