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Political Tai-Chi: a guest post

March 1, 2008
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A guest post by Cristina White, who graced Left at the Altar at its previous address with two other contributions, an essay and a theater review. Many thanks, Cristina!

Watching Barack Obama during the 20th debate with Hillary was a revelation. It was political debate taken to another level, that of T’ai Chi as martial art. Forty-some years ago, when I began studying T’ai Chi, one of the concepts that fascinated me was that, in facing an opponent, you offered no resistance; instead, you yielded to the on-coming force and used your opponent’s energy to let him topple himself.

I watched Obama do that repeatedly during the debate, and it was incredible. One example: he was asked about Louis Farrakhan’s support, and he stated that he had denounced Farrakhan. Hillary said that it was all very well to denounce, it was better to reject. Obama pointed out that no offer was made for him to reject, but if she thought reject was stronger, fine — “I denounce and reject.” The audience laughed and, once again, he won the point, and the audience. No wonder that nothing the Clinton campaign throws at him sticks. He simply keeps his center, yields, and then turns the force directed against him to his advantage. The energy meant to bring him down instead levels his opponent. He did it again and again with Hillary during the debate, and the next day, when challenged on the issue of al-Qaeda in Iraq, he did it with McCain.

Brilliant.

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