An open Letter to Lanny Davis in response to his WSJ Opinion piece "Obama's Minister Problem"

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by Ari Rutenberg

to: ldavis@orrick.com

subject: WSJ Opinion: "Obama's Minister Problem"

Dear Mr Davis,

I am a long time supporter of you and the
Clintons, especially in regards to the way you handled the gross
misdeeds perpetrated on Bill Clinton by the right wing when he was
President.   I take no pleasure in writing this letter, but feel that
your article warrants a response.

I am not an extremist or radical.  My views have been formed
through years of watching politics and thorough research on the subject
from both an academic and a practical point of view.   I have worked in
government and written several dissertations on the machinations of the
right wing.   However I must say that to deny America's complicity in
criminal acts and atrocities is factually incorrect and intellectually
dishonest.  We, like all other nations run by imperfect people, have
committed many acts that would shock the conscience of most Americans.
Indeed this very subject relates to one of our greatest crimes, the
enslavement of a race, the other being the genocide white Europeans
committed on the native inhabitants of our land, who are now all but
gone.  That is not to say that we deserved anything, but neither did
the people we subjugated for 400 years or the Palestinians suffering in
the Occupied Territories.  It does not diminish the crime because it
was done in the name of our government.

However it was not my disagreement with you on the issue of American
crime that really bothered me..  Not only do I
disagree with your position, but must say the you fundamentally
misunderstand Obama's argument, and indeed may be incapable of doing
so.  Obama represents a type of change and open-minded intelligent
debate that has long been absent in Washington.  He is representative
of a type of change that members of the current establishment, which
has clearly failed (see Iraq, free market economics, and don't ask,
don't tell), seem unable understand or except the desire of the
American people for the demise of the system they have created and
worked in, which has benefited the wealthy (you and me) and has failed
the working class and the poor.  What he is asking us to do, like real
adults do, is to put aside our partisan blinders and look at the decay
that has crept into our system. 

He is asking you, and those like you who live inside the beltway,
to stop considering politics to be some sort of game or career and
start dealing with it like real people are affected, because they are.
He is asking you to have a serious discussion in which the ultimate
goal is not some political gotcha moment that benefits your side, but
an honest appraisal of what we must do in this country to fix our many
problems.  He is also asking people like you to stop with the false
indignation.  Reverend Wrights comments are not particularly extreme in
general, just inside the beltway.  And your assertion that you choose
your spiritual leader based on political convictions is absurd.  I
disagree with many things my Rabbis have said about Israel, but I have
not left my synagogue because my primary connection with them is
spiritual and cultural.  I do not ask them for political advice.  One's
spiritual advisers need not agree with one politically.  Bill Clinton's
relationship with Billy Graham is one very recent example.  No Democrat
asked Clinton to distance himself from Graham even though he has long
been a spokesman for the Christian right.  That is not because people
didn't know of Clinton's relationship, but rather because most consider
one's clergy to be outside the realm of politics.  The only people in
our country who insist on a particular point of view are the
evangelicals, and I do not count you among them.

Obama offered us a chance to begin a real dialog on the problems we
face in this nations, rather than the normal vacant political discourse
which leads nowhere.  It is disappointing that intelligent people like
yourself failed to take it up because you believe that it would hurt
your candidate to do so.  What about hurting this nation, sir?  Aren't
there more important issues than having your horse win the race?  I
sincerely hope you read this and reconsider your statement.  It does
not make you look weak to accept his challenge for a real debate, but
instead makes you look strong and confident that your candidate is as
capable of being serious and honest with the American people.  Obama is
not simply a pop-culture phenomenon.  He speaks to a very real desire
by Americans to be treated like adults instead of having their concerns
dismissed by those who baselessly assert they know better.

Sir please take his challenge.  Support Hillary, and encourage her
to do the same. Having an open and honest debate instead of the normal
sound bite, no-substance politics can only benefit our nation, and it
serves no purpose but selfishness to deny us that chance.

Very Truly Yours,

Ari Rutenberg
Los Angeles, CA