THE BLOG
07/18/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Jesse Jackson (With a Little Help From James Dobson) Just Handed the White House to Obama

The Rev. Jesse Jackson and Dr. James Dobson (of "Focus On The Family") must be in a conspiracy to get Senator Obama elected. With enemies like these Obama doesn't need friends. Obama is fortunate. Nothing will calm America's fears about voting for him more than the fact that the national village idiots are lining up to attack him.

There is a strange symmetry between the whispered insults directed at Senator Obama by the Rev. Jesse Jackson -- caught on tape and recycled by FOX--and the public attacks made a few weeks ago by James Dobson. Both attacks on Obama came from dinosaurs, cranky leftovers from the era of mutual disrespect and hatred that has dominated American politics for almost 40 years.

Jackson and Dobson share an identification as "religious leaders" who have developed their careers by endlessly grandstanding on the sidelines of the American debate. These days they are mainly famous for being famous.

If Senator Obama becomes President both Jackson and Dobson (and many like them) will be out of luck for the same reason: post-racial and post-culture wars, America will have little patience with the professional dividers.

Jackson and Dobson have their personal identities so wrapped up in the divisions of the last 40 years that Obama is a threat to them. How do you deal with a candidate who breaks the categories we've all gotten used to? What to do with a black candidate who tells the truth about the deplorable state of far too many African-American families? What to do with a progressive Democrat who not only reaches out to evangelical Christians but is a Christian himself? How do you silence a man who warned us not to go to war in Iraq, and yet who is calling for a stronger military?

Dobson and Jackson have something else in common: they are used to their moralistic posturing passing for leadership of people they "speak for" -- evangelicals and African-Americans. But as Obama's growing popularity with evangelicals proves, and as he rises to leadership nationally and also in the black community, who is really listening to the self-appointed leaders of the past?

The generation that forms the bedrock of Obama's support (white and black) and that includes many older folks like me -- a white middle class and middle aged male and former life-long Republican --realize that we have global problems. That is one reason we are rooting for Obama. Obama is about stopping the loss of American prestige worldwide, ending a war, reversing the threat of global warming and environmental catastrophe, reversing the rising gap between wealth and poverty globally, undoing the damage of 8 horrible Bush years of misdirection and opening a door to a new and better America.

An authentic leader acclaimed by tens of millions of Americans of all colors, politics and religions has emerged. He speaks with true moral authority given by we the voters. He is not building an empire based on anger, rejection and paranoia but rather reaching out to all Americans in a way that has not been seen since Franklin Roosevelt. Those who have made careers based on stirring up factional fear of the "other" are reacting. Their toys are about to be taken away.

Jackson and Dobson have nothing to say to a country (let alone a world) looking to save itself. They are mired in grievance. They are also -- let's be frank --jealous. Obama is lucky to have such critics. He looks bigger and more presidential every time the has-beens attack him.


Frank Schaeffer is a writer and author of "CRAZY FOR GOD-How I Grew Up As One Of The Elect, Helped Found The Religious Right, And Lived To Take All (Or Almost All) Of It Back"