Tuesday, August 05, 2008

Answer in the Affirmative

There are those in the Conservative world who are disseminating the idea that Barack Obama, if elected, would constitute the first affirmative action President. I have to laugh at the absolute absurdity of this claim because both the current President and the Republican nominee for same office are among the biggest beneficiaries of affirmative action. I'm not talking about the government mandated kind, I'm talking about the fact that both of these men have been given advantages that the rest of us simply do not get.

Let us look at the career of one John S. McCain III as an example. His father and Grandfather were both Admirals. He graduated near the bottom of his class at West Point, but somehow managed to get a prime spot as in naval aviator school. He crashed two planes during training but that didn't stop him from from being given a prime spot as a fighter pilot attached to an aircraft carrier in Vietnam. He spent most of his time in Navy as a POW and his piloting skills were apparently dubious at best, yet still managed to acquire 17 awards and decorations. After coming back from the war, he was named as commander of the largest aviation training group in the Navy. After divorcing his disabled wife he married into a family that owned a large beer distributorship and was immediately named a Vice President. Two years later he ran for and won a set in Congress with a campaign financed in large part by his wife. Clearly there were many actions taken by others to advance the career of Senator McCain.

George W. Bush (as the son of a multi millionaire who was well connected in Washington) was an alcohol abuser, who by his own admission, was a little unfocused in his youth (which he claims extended until he was 40). He had a string of failed business ventures before buying into the Texas Rangers (I won't even go into his valiant service he provided by protecting Texas and Alabama from invasion during the Vietnam war), for whom he served as President. After his father had served two terms as Vice President and one as President, he ran for Governor of Texas and easily won the Republican nomination, even though he has lost in his only attempt at public office in 1978 (unfortunately this was before his father had become famous). After one and a half terms in office, he ran for President and "won" the 2000 election when the Supreme Court decided in a 5-4 decision to halt a recount in Florida.

If either of these men had been born under the same circumstances as Barack Obama, I am quite sure that we would not know their names. McCain, who has recently changed his position on affirmative action to more closely align himself with the base of the Republican party, has stated that he "is all for equal and fair opportunity for all Americans". I would be too if I had been given the GIANT helping hand that he has. Perhaps he thinks that life works that way for everyone or perhaps he just doesn't give a shit. I wish someone would have the opportunity to ask him if he thinks that he could have gotten to his position without being the son and grandson of Admirals or the husband of a woman who is worth over $100 million. The funny thing is that like George W. Bush, he probably thinks that he's a self made man. In Baseball terms, he probably he thinks he hit a triple, when he was actually born standing on third base.

I have no idea if Barack Obama has been the beneficiary of affirmative action during his academic career, but I do know that he was the President of the Law Review at Harvard and graduated magna cum laude. I can say that he certainly has not received the preferential treatment that both George W. Bush and John McCain were privy to in the years preceding their entries into politics. Barack Obama was born with a proverbial plastic spoon in his mouth and has manged to rise to challenge for the highest office in this land. If you are looking for an affirmative action action President look no further than the current holder and the Republican nominee for the office.

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