Obama And Biden
Democratic presidential hopeful Senator Barack Obama has finally let the cat out of his proverbial bag. Senator Joe Biden will be the vice presidential running mate. Like most decisions of presidential politics it could have been better. Like most decisions of presidential politics it could have been a lot worse. What does it mean for the black community? Like most things at our national political level it doesn’t mean anything good for the black community. Like most things at our national political level, there is plenty of evidence to support the supposition that the black community is simply along for the ride.
Many black people were put off when Mr. Biden described his black competitor for the Democratic nomination in the most simplistic of terms as “clean” and “articulate” while delving into carefully constructed, somewhat intellectual reports of the political positions of the other contenders for the nomination like Senator John Edwards and Senator Hillary Clinton. It would be a reasonable assumption to take such a lame description as an indication that he dismissed Mr. Obama as no one to be taken seriously. Was it because Mr. Obama is black? Mr. Biden was also one of the first people to dismiss Mr. Obama as inexperienced and ill prepared
The only other thing that I can think of off the top of my head that could indicate Mr. Biden’s appreciation for issues sensitive to the black community are the Clarence Thomas and Anita Hill Hearing that Mr. Biden presided over. Mr. Biden is a long time member of the United States Senate Committee on the Judiciary and served a number of years as ranking minority member. Mr. Biden was front and center in the Mr. Thomas’ contentious Supreme Court confirmation hearings back in 1991. Toward the end of the confirmation hearings, information was leaked to the press regarding an FBI interview with Anita Hill, an attorney who had worked for Mr. Thomas at the Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Ms. Hill was called to testify during the confirmation hearing.
Ms. Hill made a number of allegations of sexual harassment against Mr. Thomas. The hearings broke down into a who did what between Mr. Thomas and Ms. Hill. However, Angela Wright, who also worked with Mr. Thomas at the EEOC, told the Senate Judiciary Committee that Mr. Thomas had repeatedly made comments to her, much like those he allegedly made to Hill, including pressuring her for dates and commenting on her body. Rose Jourdain testified that Ms. Wright had discussed Mr. Thomas’ behavior with her at the time the incidents occurred, and that she had considered it sexual harassment. In light of the fact that Thomas had testified that he had fired Ms. Wright for calling another employee a faggot, Mr. Biden decided against publicly hearing Ms. Wright’s testimony. There were powerful interests putting enormous pressure into getting Mr. Thomas confirmed quickly to replace Thurgood Marshall. Mr. Biden caved to those pressures and made the controversy look like nothing but a squabble between a bitter black woman and a maligned Supreme Court nominee chosen to continue the legacy of black people being represented in the highest court of our land. The rest is history. And if Mr. Thomas had his way, so would the black community.
With respect to the black community, the choice of Mr. Biden to be the Democrat’s running mate says a lot about our relationship, or more precisely the black community’s lack of a relationship, with the Senator from Illinois. I seriously doubt if the good Senator who would be President actually wants to do harm to the black community. He simply doesn’t think the political strength of the black community is worth the effort of a positive thought. If anyone had a history of making any disparaging remarks or behaviors that would call into question Mr. Obama’s affiliation to people that he really did care about, like his unconditional affinity for the people in the state of Israel, Mr. Obama would not take a chance of taking that kind of hit on his reputation. But there is no danger in raising the ire of black people. Besides, some black people are so stuck on making history they cannot take a moment to pull back from that single tree of thought to see the entire forest of our relationship with Mr. Obama.
Politically speaking Mr. Biden was a choice that the black community can live with. Just like the way the black community had to live with the choice of the ultra conservative Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court for the past seventeen years. It’s the kind of choice the black community has become accustomed to ever since we became a part of the American collective. Very little happens where the perspective of the black community is taken under any consideration. We should be used to this kind of treatment by now.