8.25.2008

Obama Like Jackie Robinson?


Apparently, making ridiculous statements runs in the Jesse Jackson family.

Today, Jackson’s son, Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) compared Barack Obama to baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson.

I suppose some legitimate comparisons could be made (Robinson being the first black player in the Major Leagues in the 20th century, Obama potentially being the first black U.S. president), but the comparison that Jackson Jr. actually made doesn’t seem to apply:

“Barack Obama has the capacity to hit, but he is in the situation where he can’t hit back, which Jackie Robinson could not do…He had to be able to run the bases, even though the crowd was jeering the first African-American on the field.”
As I wrote some time ago, the description of Robinson is accurate (he agreed not to fight back when verbally attacked for the first three years of his career), but I don’t know why that makes him like Obama—I certainly haven’t noticed Barack refraining from “hitting back” at any point throughout the campaign.

4 comments:

Alex 8/26/08, 6:39 PM  

While Obama hasn't been entirely spotless in this regard, he has made a point to cut back on the political mud-slinging, which I have to say is a breath of fresh air.

Luke 8/27/08, 9:34 AM  

Alex,

I tend to think that "political mud-slinging" is one of those highly subjective ideas (i.e. when your candidate does it, it's mud-slinging but when mine does it he's just defending himself) not entirely unlike "legalism" in religious circles.

From my perspective, any lessening of mud-slinging by Obama compared to previous campaigns seems to be pretty marginal.

All that being said, I wasn't trying to say that Obama had done anything inappropriate by defending himself—it was just the comparison that I thought was ludicrous. Jackie Robinson had to deal with a constant stream of racial epithets, attempts by other players to spike him, and even death threats. To all of that, he made no response and just continued to play.

Whether or not Obama has cut back on mud-slinging, he has still defended himself, and acting as if he were some sort of turning-the-other-cheek martyr is ridiculous.

And to reiterate, I don't think there's anything wrong with candidates defending themselves when they're attacked; they just shouldn't be compared to Jackie Robinson if/when they do so.

NewJerseyJesus 9/2/08, 12:35 PM  

And let's not forgot the obvious, it was the American people who freely voted for and placed Obama in the current position he's in. Not much real jeering going on that I can say.

Luke 9/2/08, 1:28 PM  

NJJ,

Welcome to the blog, and thanks for the comment.

And that's a great point you make and one which shows how much progress our country has made over the last 60 years or so (despite claims to the contrary from some circles).

Jackie Robinson was a "first" despite prevailing sentiments of the time. If Obama becomes a first, it will be because of the prevailing sentiments of today.

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