President Barack Obama wrapped himself in Nelson’s Mandela’s mythical reputation today as he used the media-magnified memorial service to jab at the GOP and to praise his own progressive ideology.
“There are too many people who happily embrace [Mandela’s] legacy of racial reconciliation, but passionately resist even modest reforms that would challenge chronic poverty and growing inequality,” he said, without mentioning GOP House Speaker John Boehner by name.
Through his peroration, Obama declared that Mandela’s political choices are relevant to other countries, including the United States.
And he shielded his own progressive agenda with Mandela’s saint-like reputation.
“Regardless of our station or our circumstance, we must ask: How well have I applied his lessons in my own life? It’s a question I ask myself, as a man and as a President,” Obama told the rain-soaked crowd in Johannesburg.
“In America… our work is not yet done,” he said.
“We still see children suffering from hunger and disease. We still see run-down schools. We still see young people without prospects for the future,” according to Obama, who has presided over a slow-growing economy in which nearly all the gains have gone to his political allies in the top 1 percent income-bracket.
“Around the world today, men and women are… still persecuted for what they look like, and how they worship, and who they love, “ he said.
Obama frequently used the informal name, “Madiba,” for Mandela, and portrayed him as a post-religious saint whose life should be taught to children.
“It’s tempting I think to remember Nelson Mandela as an icon, smiling and serene, detached from the tawdry affairs of lesser men… ‘I am not a saint,’ he said, ‘unless you think of a saint as a sinner who keeps on trying,’” Obama pronounced.
“Let me say to the young people of Africa and the young people around the world — you, too, can make his life’s work your own,” he pleaded in his speech, which will likely be shown to millions of students at American schools.
“Over 30 years ago, while still a student, I learned of Nelson Mandela and the struggles taking place in this beautiful land… [They] woke me up to my responsibilities to others and to myself, and it set me on an improbable journey that finds me here today.”
Obama’s support among young people has recently crashed, partly because of the stalled economy, but also because of his “you can keep your plan” lie about Obamacare.
The speech included slightly-cloaked jabs at the GOP, whose discordant coalition of social-conservatives, libertarians and business lobbyists has stymied Obama’s congressional agenda after 2010.
He even hinted that the American people are somehow culpable for not supporting his failing agenda or for not boosting his dropping poll ratings.
“There are too many of us on the sidelines, comfortable in complacency or cynicism when our voices must be heard,” he said.
“Let us search for his largeness of spirit somewhere inside of ourselves,” he lectured his listeners.
“ And when the night grows dark, when injustice weighs heavy on our hearts, when our best-laid plans seem beyond our reach, let us think of Madiba and the words that brought him comfort within the four walls of his cell: ‘It matters not how strait the gate, how charged with punishments the scroll, I am the master of my fate; I am the captain of my soul.’”