The Saturday Night Live tribute to Former President Barack Oabama was truly touching to me. In a nut shell, Cicely Strong and Sasheer Zamata, standing under a black and white portrait of POTUS #44, summed up my relationship with Mr. Obama with an emotional rendition of “To Sir, With Love”, the moving song sung by Barabara “Babs” Pegg, played byLulu, to thank her teacher of school and in life Mr. Mark Thackeray, played by the talented Sidney Portier, in the movie by the same name.
In the beginning I had my doubts about Mr. Obama. He wasn’t a hard hittin’ homie ready to make shit real enough for the black community in my book. He was too busy trying to appeal to people who had no intention of ever being appealed, the conservative right and the social establishment controlled by the people who say they wish for all of us to be racially generic. I resisted his cool demeanor. I was insulted by the way he would try and placate any fear of black favoritism by keeping the black community at arm’s length for the most part.
But Mr. Obama had a game to play and he couldn’t do the things he was able to do if he got hunkered down in a racially charged fight by standing on one side of the racial divide or the other. There were bigger fish to fry in the limited time he held the keys that unlocked the deepest secrets of this kingdom. He focused on doing his best for everybody in the most non threatening way he could. I understood that was what he felt he had to do back then. I understand just the same now. But now I guess I have a little more empathy for his position, although I would like to think that if I was in the same position I would do things differently. And that’s probably why I would never be elected President of the United States (as if that feat was ever in danger of actually happening).
And to see him turn the cheek on all the people who would use whatever position of influence he or she possessed to belittle him in ways no President of the United States ever suffered. He’s the achievement of every black individual and every black celebrity and every black person of pride and every black person who’s the first to achieve anything rolled into one. He was able to break into the most exclusive club on the planet open to every citizen of this country. He became the first black POTUS. And that is something no conservative, politician or critic, will ever take from him for as long as anyone has a reason to remember the social construct known as the United States of America.
I have to admit I had a stiff upper lip when I heard the news that Donald J. Chump would become the 45th President of the United States. I also have to admit that I wasn’t looking forward to a Hillary Clinton as POTUS either. The majority of her speeches were dull, she appeared to be aloof in too many public appearances, and she should have done a better job with a lot of her campaigning. But given the choices I think the lady was clearly the best and most qualified person for the job of running our collective’s business when compared to Mr. Chump. A lot of people felt that she had it in the bag. But a lot of people were also saying that a lot of her supporters were in danger of taking this past election for granted. The results speak for themselves. When the results manifested late that early November Tuesday election night, I tried to console myself in the comforting thought that we were warned. We the people of the United States had a chance and we blew it.
Ever since that night I was able to look into the unwelcoming abyss called the future with President Trump with acceptance; the kind of acceptance that resembles the resolve of Captain Kirk riding his starship into the jaws of hell. And I’m not talking about Captain James T. Kirk who had always managed to cheat death at the last minute. I’m talking about his father, Captain George Samuel Kirk, played by Chris Hemsworth in the rebirth of the Star Trek franchise. George Kirk was captain of the USS Kelvin for all of twelve minutes. But he welcomed death as his inevitability when he rammed his ship into the Romulan vessel from the future. When you know the gig is up you have no choice but to ride that last ride through.
So yeah, I had a sense of acceptance. The future is cast and the chips are steadily falling where they may. I may not like it. But I will not go gently into that night like a little self absorbed bitch. Chin up. Head high. I watched as the Borg Queen told me that my world was ending and there was nobody coming to save me from what the American political system had wrought. I watched the clock wind down to the Trump inauguration. I watched as the true to life personification of the Omen’s Damien attains the throne of the world for the sake of his hellish father’s bidding. I watched the protest gather momentum yesterday over the world as people demonstrated to remind the Trump administration as to where the true power resides. I watched it all without looking back to what we were losing and what we are giving up.
And then to wind things up this weekend of the beginning of the end, for the first time in years, I actually took the time to watch Saturday Night Live as it broadcasted from New York City. I was impressed with the quality of the show. Over the years I have seen videos and outtakes and bits and pieces of skits over the years. But last night was the first time in years I actually was up late on a Saturday night and I bothered to turn the television to NBC to watch the show. I couldn’t even tell you the last cast I saw. I know it was post Eddie Murphy. Maybe it was when Keenan Thompson became a regular. Regardless, the show was guest hosted by Aziz Ansari and it was the funniest I’ve seen from SNL in forever. And Big Sean was the musical talent. I’m embarrassed to say that I have never taken the time to listen to this artist. I will be trying to learn more about him in the immediate future. I thoroughly enjoyed the show, and if that was just a sample of what they’ve been doing lately I’m going to have to make a special effort to set the DVR for future episodes.
The show was winding down with only a handful of minutes left to spare. Coming back from commercial the show reopened with Ms. Strong standing on a darkened stage, highlighted under a single spot light, in front of the portrait of Mr. Obama. Without any fanfare or distraction the music starts and Ms. Strong sings, “Those school girl days…” Immediately my attention level piqued a couple of notches.. It had been years since I’ve even thought of this movie. But I suddenly remember Sidney Portier standing in front of those white English kids helping to prepare them for the future. They were better prepared than many of them thought was ever possible. The group of students that started out as nothing more than future residents of the penal system, began to see the world through the eyes of people ready to take responsibility for their fate with a seriousness that evaded them before. And they had the black American to thank for their newfound perspective. The somber tone of the song enveloped me. “How do you thank someone that has taken you from crayons to perfume?” It’s not easy but I will try.
My eyes started to well up. For eight years I had the luxury to just sit back. I thank you Mr. Obama for giving my family and I as well as all of my friends, my co workers, my associates, my neighborhood, my fellow citizens of this country and the world, an example of leadership and of dignity that has become rare and special. I thank your wife, the essence of black royalty and the world’s first black First Lady. I thank your daughters Sasha and Malia for enduring the spotlight that had become their world and seeing it through to the end with a maturity that is exceptional for such young people. I thank your mother in law for being there to help you through everything the world has put you through. But most of all by far, I thank you for your service! No one could have done better.
President Barack Obama learned a long time ago of the dangers associated with being a black politician at a national level and vocalizing anything about the institutionalized racism of the United States. While obviously racially non black politicians are free to remind the public of America’s racial shortcomings, a black politician doesn’t have that luxury out of some perception that the black politician would appear too close to the black community. When such an observation starts to manifest, the fear is that the black community’s need would trump the white community’s wants and America would never tolerate such a circumstance. It wouldn’t matter if the entire black community was slipping further into the oblivion of poverty and all the social ills associated with that condition, if white America wants ice cream somebody better make sure there’s a national plan to provide ice cream. To hell with black people!
When the news broke that candidate Barack Obama’s pastor Reverend Jeremiah Wright was a closet racist who hated white people, regardless of how inaccurate the story was, Mr. Obama had to stiff arm his spiritual mentor for his political survival. When Mr. Obama weighed in on the arrest of his friend Henry Louis “Skip” Gates, Jr. and called the behavior of the Cambridge police stupid for arresting the prominent black American out of his own house, Mr. Obama was so vilified by his political opponents and many across the country that he had to back pedal his comments like Michael Jackson in a Billy Jean video. And when Trayvon Martin was shot and killed in cold blood and his killer was allowed to go home with his murder weapon and protests were being held all over the country, Mr. Obama’s rather benign comment that if he had a son he would look like Trayvon, his political critics again pounced on him calling the President a race baiter as they did their best to inject race into the matter as they rallied support for the black teenager’s murderer.
But all of that happened prior to Mr. Obama being reelected for his second term as commander-in-chief. Now that he’s been reelected and is no longer eligible to run for the highest office in the land again, Mr. Obama is a little freer to express himself more openly about issues of race. Before being reelected he would do his best to quell the specter of racism by saying that he didn’t think race was a factor in any happenings no matter how racially charged. But if Mr. Obama’s latest venture into the unwelcomed discussion of America’s racial dysfunction that many loath to have is any indication, things might be a little different now from the President’s perspective.
Six days after a six women jury acquitted George Zimmerman of any wrong doing in his assassination of Trayvon Martin the President surprised the White House reporters by appearing before them during a routine press conference being conducted by Press Secretary Jay Carney. Unprompted and unscripted the President extended his sympathies to the parents of Trayvon Martin. The President actually empathized with the murdered teenager saying that he could’ve been Trayvon thirty five short years ago. Thirty five years ago a young Barack Obama could have been murdered as he was walking home minding his own business and somebody thought it a good idea to snuff his life out and his murderer could’ve been acquitted because young Barry foolishly thought he could rebel against the establishment like so many other teenagers do, black and white.
Mr. Obama talked about how people responded to him in his earlier years by locking their car doors as he walked through the neighborhood, by people crossing the street as he walked towards them on the sidewalk, by women clutching their purse closer to their body as he got onto an elevator, and by being followed through a department store as if he would shoplift at any moment compelled to do so driven by his black skin. Mr. Obama knows all too well that being black is not even close to being some kind of benefit in our social construct. It is a curse that makes it possible for a black teenager to be murdered in the darkness of the evening.
Mr. Obama is ready to talk about his racism of the past. But he still needs to acknowledge the racism he continues to experience to this day. How else can anyone explain how the most powerful man in the free world is constantly hounded to produce his birth certificate as proof that he belongs in America and is eligible to serve as President unlike every single President that has come before him who were all accepted to be a citizen without question? Even though he doesn’t have to run for office again he still needs the support of the American people in order to do his job and hold his political opponents at bay. And the last thing America wants is to support any black person who is willing to say that they can’t do their job because of the racism that runs rampant in this country. Too many people are too ready to dismiss claims of racism as little more as whining in order to cover incompetence. Pull yourself up by your bootstrap is the knee jerk, overly simplistic response to racism regardless if it can be proven or not. The question is can you prove it beyond a shadow of doubt. And for many people, that shadow is so long it can never be overcome.
Americans want to hear that everything is good and racism is in our past or at least it’s getting better. In fact, Mr. Obama said as much when he gave his impromptu press conference. Despite our racial dysfunction, Mr. Obama says he looks at his daughters and their friends and comforts himself with the belief that things have gotten better and will continue to improve with time. We believe things have gotten so much better that we don’t even recognize the horrible fact that nothing’s changed. Just like Emmett Till was murdered way back in 1955 accused of doing something unseemly and paying for it with his life, Trayvon Martin was murdered today under accusations of attacking the man who was stalking him. Just like black people testified about what happened to Emmett Till and were dismissed, according to juror B-37 Rachel Jeantel’s testimony was dismissed as unreliable because of her lack of proper diction and the fact that she wasn’t properly educated. It’s a fair bet that the fact that she was black had something to do with her lack of credibility as well. Just like back then somebody got away with murder even though he was standing right there with the gun in his hand.
Things might look like they’re getting better. But the simple fact that to this day we continue to let our black children die and their murderers walk free proves that it isn’t getting any better at all. In fact, if you add the lies that things have gotten better, the deception of racial equality that we live under, things are far worse now than they’ve ever been. Back in Emmett Till’s day black people knew that they were second class citizens and no amount of sugar coating about how black people weren’t slaves anymore was going to make it better. Our measure for discrimination is not how good or bad our ancestors and elders had it. The measure for racial discrimination is the fact that we still do not live in a racially equal society. Our black children will continue to die until we wake up and recognize this simple fact and really begin to do something about it.
Former New Hampshire Governor John Sununu decided to wear his racism on his sleeve after former Secretary of State Colin Powel went public with his decision to endorse Barack Obama for a second term as President of the United States instead of his Republican associate former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney. Way back during the GOP primaries Mr. Powell was critical about Mr. Romney. After Mr. Romney made the comment that Russia was the number one geopolitical foe of the United States Mr. Powell made the suggestion that Mr. Romney should actually think about what he’s saying if he wants to become President. Instead, Mr. Romney doubled down on inconsistent nonsense and conservative rhetoric meant to excite the Republican faithful but few others. In the end Mr. Powell made his critical endorsement.
Like a pit bull trained to attack, Mr. Sununu leapt to criticize Mr. Powell. During an interview with CNN’s Pierce Morgan, Mr. Sununu made the suggestion that Mr. Powell suffers from being black. Mr. Sununu said that when some black people are conditioned to support other black people in a key position or role no matter what. Mr. Powell supports Mr. Obama only because of the commonality of their skin color and not because Mr. Powell made an honest assessment and concluded that Mr. Obama as the better choice to lead the country. Mr. Sununu wants people to believe that a black man that served three conservative white skinned Presidents is now so color struck for another black man that he can’t think straight.
Later, Mr. Sununu offered an apology to his “good friend” Mr. Powell and retracted his statement. Like a lot of conservative politicians these days, he says his words filled with race baiting rancor were being taken out of context. But the message was clear to the racially bigoted voters who could be motivated to keep a couple of Negroid boys from working together to keep America out of the hands of people who are most assuredly more competent simply because we know that they aren’t black.
Yes it is true that a lot of black people have a lot of pride in the fact that Mr. Obama is our first black President. And it is also true that there are black people who will support Mr. Obama for President no matter what simply because of the color of his skin. But Mr. Powell hardly fits into such a category. Mr. Powell is one of the many black people who understand facts from their personal perspective and have decided that Mr. Obama is a better choice for the black community as well as the larger community of America as well as the world. And in the grand pantheon that comprises the black community, some black people might isolate between the two conditions of color struck and thoughtful analysis.
But just like some black people may suffer from a color struck condition that will drive their preferences, this malady is far more prevalent in the white community. Far more white people will see a black person and respond instinctively to skin tones. White people’s penchant for judging people by the color of skin is so strong that they have an entire history of enslaving people for nothing more than having the wrong skin color. And with white people’s history of blatant, disparate racism, why would a white person like Mr. Sununu feel compelled to accuse Mr. Powell of overt racism? Mr. Powell explained his position in thoughtful detail and yet Mr. Sununu felt compelled to play the race card and say that it all boils down to black people wanting to see each other do well.
So do white people ever feel compelled to see other white people do well? Or more appropriately we should ask do white people ever feel compelled to make sure black people don’t do well? All we have to do is look at America’s racially polarized history to find the answer to that question. American history proves that white people will go out of their way to keep black people from being successful or credible. For some white people, to see a black person do well is to see a target that needs to be attacked and taken down at all cost. Some white people are so driven by this instinct that they would be willing to throw the country into chaos just to keep a black man from being successful. How else would you explain why four years ago a group of white politicians got together to make sure the term of America’s first black President would be as ineffective as possible and do their best to block his every move with filibusters and legislative maneuverings meant to being government to a screeching stop.
Mr. Sununu’s assessment of Colin Powell was a twofer. He knocked the black former Secretary of State for being so racist that he would support a black President with nothing to base that decision on but the color of his skin. Both Mr. Powell and Mr. Obama have a history of working for white people and with white people that should prove their willingness to put everything else to the side for the bigger picture or the issue at hand.
The same can’t be said about Mr. Sununu. In his eye, the only reason black people support other black people is the commonality of skin color. Unfortunately, Mr. Sununu is one of those white people who cannot stand to see black people do well and is driven by an inherent need to follow his racially biased instincts at all costs.
Back in the day, before black people had anything acknowledging their civil rights, it didn’t take anything for white person to accuse a black person of a crime, hold a black person in jail for a crime on nothing more than the word of a white person, and/or convict a black person for a crime with the only evidence being the testimony of a white person. The racial prejudice against black people in America was institutionalized in all levels of government, in every branch of government, from the high of the federal down to smallest of local jurisdictions.
America’s penchant for racial disparity was fictionalized in stories like To Kill a Mockingbird. Assigned as the prosecutor in the rape trial of the black Tom Robinson, Horace Gilmer faces off against Atticus Finch in court. The facts of the trial proved far beyond a reasonable doubt that it was virtually impossible for the one armed black man being tried could not have raped anyone, Mr. Gilmer does little to prove Tom’s guilt. Instead, Mr. Gilmer relies on the racial prejudice of the all white jury to ignore the testimony of the black man. America’s racism was so thick that it was no surprise to see the white people in the story ready to lynch the black man with nothing more than an accusation.
There is no better example of America’s racial disparity than the case of Emmett Louis Till. Emmett was a fourteen year old black boy who was brutally murdered in Mississippi after he was accused of whistling at a white woman. Emmett was from Chicago, Illinois and was visiting his relatives when he had the audacity to actually speak to twenty one year old Carolyn Bryant in her grocery store. Several nights later, Mrs. Bryant’s husband Roy and Roy’s brother snatched Emmett out of the house where he was staying, took him to a barn, beat him and tortured him before Emmett was shot through the head. His body was dumped into the Tallahatchie River with a seventy pound cotton gin fan tied around his neck with barbed wire. His body was discovered and retrieved from the river three days later. Roy Bryant was tried but acquitted of Emmett’s murder. A few months after his acquittal he admitted killing Emmett in a magazine interview. Protection from double jeopardy prevented his confession from being used against him.
Now a lot of people would think that such travesty of justice is behind us, that in the twenty first century America has learned from her racist past and looks only towards the future of racial harmony and brighter days. At least that is what we would like to think. But again, if we actually look at the evidence presented before our very eyes we will see the reality is very different.
Many people continue to refuse to believe that President Barack Obama is an American citizen despite the fact that government agencies with the responsibility to protect the Office of the President as well as the President himself remain silent on the issue. We’re supposed to believe some hick sheriff in Arizona has discovered the truth that the Secret Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigations, the Central Intelligence Agency, and everybody else couldn’t figure out. The only evidence we have is his testimony and the fact that Mr. Obama is black. What other President or even presidential contender has ever dealt with such an indignation? The answer is not a single one. This indignation is Mr. Obama’s burden alone.
Many people accuse Mr. Obama of being an appeaser to people around the world who want to do this country harm. People believe this despite the fact that Mr. Obama kept his promise to do whatever it took to bring the leaders of al-Qaeda, including Osama bin Laden, to America’s unique brand of justice. Many of us believe this even though there is no audio or visual recording of Mr. Obama apologizing to anyone. The only proof we have is somebody’s accusation.
Mr. Obama is accused of being the food stamp President. He’s accused of being the President that saw the country lose more jobs than any other President in history. But again, if we look at the evidence, the country was losing more than seven hundred thousand jobs a month when Mr. Obama took office. Within a couple of months of assuming office, the job loss numbers began to drop. It took fifteen months, but the job loss numbers turned into job creation numbers. This happened despite the fact that Mr. Obama was working against all the Republican legislators who were committed to making sure Mr. Obama was a failure by doing their best to keep the country in economic freefall.
Mitch McConnell made the statement that his number one goal was to make sure Mr. Obama was a single term President. We have that proof. We have a conservative legislator interrupting the President’s State of the Union Address to the Congress with a boldfaced accusation that he was a liar. Other legislators say this man is so foreign you’d have to study Kenyan economic philosophy to understand his policies. Political pundits accuse him of being racist and hateful against white people. All of this and much more is believed to be true without a single shred of fact to support these allegations. But instead of getting an honest, bona fide analysis of his performance and of his person, he has to contend with conjecture, speculation, disrespect for him and for his office, and outright lies.
If people disagree with the President’s policies then by all means speak up and put their concerns, observations, whatever it might be on the table for us to review and discuss. But to make baseless accusations simply because America still suffers from institutionalized racial bigotry is a sure fire indication that we are still stuck in the racist muck that continues to dog just about every aspect of American life these days. In the twenty first century America still faces the same racial animosity that Emmett Till and Tom Robinson faced way back in the pre civil rights twentieth century. Racism was all around us then and it is all around us now and it looks like it will be with us forever.
For months, maybe even years, conservative presidential candidate Mitt Romney and his supporters have accused President Barack Obama of going around the world apologizing to other countries for America. Like a lot of baseless accusations made against the President, this allegation is made without giving a single example and yet people buy into that rhetoric. He’s been accused of being an appeaser and of being embarrassed for everything that makes the United States so exceptional in many people’s opinion. Mr. Obama’s foreign policy is often described as weak and woeful and if Mr. Romney is elected President he will make America great again.
To shore up his foreign policy credentials, the Romney for President campaign is taking their show overseas. As the one person who had the vision to save the 2002 Winter Olympics from scandal, Mitt Romney going to London, England to raise his foreign policy profile was an ideal opportunity for the conservative presidential wannabe. And if that wasn’t enough to get Mr. Romney out of the country, the opportunity to watch his wife’s horse compete in the dressage event was surely the icing to seal the deal.
But instead of coming off as a foreign policy star, Mr. Romney looks more like a foreign policy dud. A lot of people are comparing Mitt Romney’s performance to that of the bumbling Clark Griswold portrayed by Chevy Chase in the classic comedy European Vacation. Instead of acting like a man with exceptional political experience to become a President ready to deal with countries around the world, Mr. Romney looks like he learned his global political etiquette from somebody like Sarah Palin.
When asked by NBC’s Brian Williams for a comment about London’s preparations, instead of being gracious and giving England the type of support that comes from the head of state from its supposed closest ally, Mr. Romney expresses concerns and reservations. It was old news that the Olympic committee outsourced the security at the games to a company that came up woefully short. But Mitt Romney didn’t hesitate to criticize and rehash this old news. You would think he was stuck in campaign mode and made the mistake of thinking he was running against the London planners in his bid for President.
If that wasn’t bad enough, Mr. Romney’s lack of diplomatic tact was magnified when appeared to have forgotten Labour Leader Ed Miliband’s name during a press conference. Instead of referring to Mr. Millibrand by his surname, Mr. Romney referred to him as simply Mr. Leader. Some speculated it was jetlag. If so, did Mr. Romney really forget himself and thought that he was in North Korea? For the record, Mr. Millibrand and the Dear Leader look nothing alike. Maybe he simply never bothered to learn the man’s name in the first place.
And if that’s still not bad enough, Mr. Romney made another gaffe on his London trip by publicly acknowledging during a press conference that he met with the head of Britain’s MI6 intelligence agency. Mr. Romney’s meeting with MI6 head Sir John Sawers was not made an official item on his schedule and Mr. Romney himself made the major blunder by revealing it, CBS News and The Guardian reported. Britain’s Foreign and Commonwealth Office told made a statement that Sir John Sawers meets with many people, but they don’t give public commentary on any of those private meetings. MI6 was not officially acknowledged until 1994. The British take their national secret intelligence service very seriously with a heavy emphasis on secrecy.
To his credit, Mr. Romney recognized his faux pas and did his best to walk back his comments. We all should remember that this is the man who doesn’t remember what he said but he stands by what he said whatever it was. But this time, he understood that he had to do a little damage control. It was his first appearance on the world stage after all and he couldn’t leave London with a big row in his wake. Anybody in a similar position would do the same thing.
But the bigger problem for Mr. Romney is that he has just lost one of his most often used reasons for taking Mr. Obama’s job. Mr. Obama goes around the world apologizing for America. But straight out the box on his first world tour as a presidential contender, Mr. Romney is walking back his comments and his woeful performance that makes him look like the stereotypical ugly American unfit to travel abroad. Foreign policy and foreign diplomacy has been proven to be a very weak point for this candidate.
Former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney stepped up to the podium of the NAACP and proved to the world that he didn’t have a problem with going to black people and telling them how things are going to be under his administration. He went there with the purpose of putting a hard line display to the people that most people believe will be most impacted by an administration that is focused on fiscal conservatism. Black people have a reputation of living off the teat of the middle class. And the country can only get back on its economic feet if black people stopped depending on a handout and actually got off their collective ass and earned a living on their own for a change. We all know how irresponsible black people are.
Mitt Romney went to the NAACP and threw down the gauntlet. A program that will help provide more people with better opportunities for healthcare, that models his own formula for providing the people with healthcare in Massachusetts that he implemented as Governor, will be terminated as quickly as possible when he becomes President. Denying more black people access to better healthcare coverage is what makes Mitt Romney the best qualified to be President of the black community. If black people want to see who is best to lead black people then take a good look because he’s standing right in front of you. Not even all the ringers in the audience, all the black conservatives that the Romney for President campaign brought to the convention to attend his address, there to applaud the speech when nobody else would, could be heard over some of the booing that Mr. Romney provoked.
After the speech, Mr. Romney goes to a fund raiser and talks about his experience addressing the venerated black organization. He tells his white fund raiser audience that he was booed when he told the black people the way its going to be. He tells the white people that they can tell the black people that if they want handouts they can vote for the other guy. He left out the part that black people can do that or they can go to Massachusetts where he gave free handouts to everybody there. Nothing is free in government and black people need to realize that. One wonders why Mitt Romney is telling the white people to go and do that when he was already there and could have said it himself. Then again, nobody ever said Mitt Romney was a bastion of courage.
Black people have always been the whipping boy for our dysfunctional social arrangement. If we get tough on black people, use them to represent the weakness of a people unable to take responsibility for their own plight and step to the plate with responsible behavior that would change their pathetic situation around, we can prove our disdain for failure and our proclivity for hard work and self reliance, traits that are supposed to run deep in the character that defines America. White people work to get ahead while black people wait on handouts.
But was what Mitt Romney did much different the Barack Obama going in front of black people and saying that black people need to be more responsible and quit looking for a handout? Back in 2008, campaigning heavily and stiff arming the black community by avoiding any appearance to address black people in order to circumvent even the most remote any appearance of having a connection to black people, Mr. Obama finally relented and spoke to a black audience on Father’s Day. Mr. Obama used the speech to tell black people that the solution to the problems in the black community is for black fathers to stop acting like irresponsible fools and start acting responsibly. Black people need to take responsibility for what happens in the black community.
As an ideological message, how is what Barack Obama said to the black community four years ago any different than what Mitt Romney said last week? Whether or not our President is black or white our cultural philosophy is that we see black people as undeserving participants in the American society. What was the difference between the two messages? One significant difference is that Barack Obama was applauded for his tough love rhetoric while Mitt Romney’s hard line was immediately recognized as offensive. But they both essentially said the same thing. They both said black people need to quit being a drag on everyone else.
Another difference between the two candidates is that Mitt Romney showed up while Barack Obama had other commitments. Again he’s stiff arming black people. The time and place of the annual NAACP convention is announced a year in advance. Are we really supposed to believe that Mr. Obama had difficulty working this into his schedule? We all know that when it comes time to flying our friendly skies Air Force One is given top priority whether its flight is scheduled in advance or a last minute change. Mr. Obama could have been there if he wanted to. Obviously Mr. Obama feels that the association with other black people is an unnecessary risk right now. He knows black people will vote for him regardless of what he says or what Mr. Romney says.
The bottom line is very plain and simple. For some people, mostly conservatives, the controversy linking now President Barack Obama to his former spiritual the Reverend Jeremiah Wright is about as dead as the controversy regarding Mr. Obama’s birth certificate and the doubt that he is a legal citizen of the United States. The Ending Spending Action Fund, a conservative super PAC with the goal of ousting Mr. Obama from the White House, was exposed by the New York Times as planning an advertising campaign reviving the link between Mr. Obama with his former pastor.
When questioned about the ad conservative presidential hopeful Mitt Romney tried his best to distance himself from the super PAC plans saying that he repudiated the effort and hopes to focus the issues back to jobs, the economy, and about how his vision for America’s future differs from Mr. Obama’s. But with super PACS operating under significantly looser campaign finance restrictions that were given the green light by the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision and the strict condition that prevents politicians from exercising any influence over super PACs, there is little guarantee that Mr. Romney would have any impact on groups willing to make Reverend Wright and the issue of race a factor in this year’s presidential campaign.
But unfortunately for Mr. Romney, like many things he says, we can point to an occasion where he said the opposite not too long ago. Back in February Mr. Romney made an appearance on FOX’s Sean Hannity where he resurrected the reference to the controversial pastor. Mr. Hannity played a sound bite of Mr. Obama saying that the United States can no longer consider itself just a Christian nation. In response to the clip, Mr. Romney said that he didn’t know which was worse, Mr. Obama listening to Reverend Wright or Mr. Obama saying that we must be a less Christian nation.
Earlier this week, after his statement repudiating the attack ad against Mr. Obama, Mr. Romney was asked for clarification over his statements on Sean Hannity and Mr. Romney replied, “I am not familiar, precisely, with exactly what I said, but I stand by what I said, whatever it was.”
We have yet another example of how Mr. Romney reveals his single most notable core conviction which can be summed up as say anything that will expedite him getting what he wants. It sounds good to repudiate the recently revealed, ugly rewind to the political racism of the previous presidential elections where there was an ugly attempt to stoke white people’s inherent fear that a black President would hand the keys of the kingdom to the black community. The past forty months or so has shown that the fear of some racial retribution led by Mr. Obama were unfounded. The negative reaction to the racially charged advertising campaign by the super PAC made it apparent that Mr. Romney doesn’t want to go there.
But Mr. Romney already went there when he did his interview with Mr. Hannity and says that he stands by what he said then. Based on his latest statement, it would be a reasonable conclusion that Mr. Romney doesn’t stand by his more recent repudiation? But it’s just as reasonable to assume Mr. Romney doesn’t stand by what he said back in February and really does mean to repudiate what he says now but simply wants to sound like he has convictions that are strong, good, and consistent.
But more than likely, the most reasonable conclusion is that Mr. Romney doesn’t really care about what he said then and really doesn’t care what he says now. He truly has an etch-a-sketch approach to politics and will say anything that will make him look favorable to the people who are listening to him now regardless of what he said before. He doesn’t even bother to find out or remember what he said before. He stands by what he says until he doesn’t, but reserves the right to go back to what was said in the middle. Whatever it takes to get whatever he wants is his only conviction.
Mr. Romney is that rarest of politician who thinks he can refer to his often changed record as proof of who he is and what he stands for. What he stands for today has nothing to do with anything he stood for in anytime in his past. It takes a rare politician to admit he doesn’t remember what he said, doesn’t care to find out what he said, but stands by his statement in the past even though it is the total opposite of what he said just the day before. He is the true epitome of an etch-a-sketch politician.
I spent last week in a seminar to learn the ins and outs for an online database application for a client that I’m working with. The seminar was held in a little town about an hour’s train ride outside of New York City and very close to Connecticut. The misses and I drove the one thousand miles one way trip with our five year old son and made the trip a working vacation. She had never been to the east coast and I hadn’t spent much time their either so we were going to take full advantage of this opportunity.
The seminar was very successful. I learned a considerable appreciation for the online application I went to study and got more than a few ideals about future database application development. The misses and son spent their time exploring the area, chasing chipmunks, and studying a few artificial waterfalls at the resort we were staying. We all enjoyed ourselves and considered the trip a very successful one.
Saturday morning we started on the long drive home. While traveling through Pennsylvania along interstate 78 heading west, we saw a political billboard along the side of the highway that briefly summed up the record of President Obama as making the American people less free, endorsing bigger government, and responsible for fifteen percent “real” unemployment. The misses and I had to laugh at the sign and wondered what could anybody point to that would support the contention that Mr. Obama made the American people less free now than they were three years ago. We wondered what would has Mr. Obama done that has made the American government bigger than it was three years ago. We found the contention that Mr. Obama was responsible for the current unemployment rate dubious considering the fact that when Mr. Obama took over the reins of the country the American people were in the middle of an economic freefall resulting from the policies enacted from the previous administration. Blaming Mr. Obama for the unemployment rate would be akin to blaming firemen for the fire that burned the building down.
The sign went on to say that it was paid for by the local tea party. I just knew I had my inspiration for my next article. But by the time we read the sign we were passed it, traveling home at the illegal rate of eighty five miles per hour in a sixty five zone. I would’ve liked to have taken a picture of the sign. But it would have been miles before we would come to our next exit. With so many miles of travel ahead of us, turning around was not even close to being an option. I would look on the internet to find an image of the sign. Unfortunately, I never did find an image of it.
As we traveled down the highway the misses and I thought about what the country would be like if the tea party ran things. The tea party, with its single minded focus on cutting taxes and keeping government from being able to do much of anything to help support the development of our national infrastructure. The misses actually summed it up very well. If the nation followed a tea party mindset, chances are we wouldn’t have our interstate system that enabled us to travel so quickly and easily. The government would have never made the investment into the nation’s interstate highway system that so many people take for granted. We would still be stuck on a network of local roads with varying standards of design and maintenance.
One thing that made our travel so easy and painless was the navigation application that came with our android phone. We entered our destination into the phone and the global positioning system that the government developed guided us directly to where we wanted to go without a single wrong turn, just as long as you paid attention to the instructions the device was giving. And when you did happen to make a wrong turn, the device quickly calculated a new route to put you on track.
The billboard was gone. But I was going to use the internet to see if I could find a copy of the sign left by somebody else. Regardless, I would use the internet to let other people know how I felt about the sign and about the tea party. The same people who talk about getting government out of their lives would be using the same internet made possible by the government to tell people that the government needs to be made smaller and ineffective, so that the developments that would take us further into the future would be made totally unlikely to ever see the light of day. The tea party would prefer to dismantle our educational system that would make all the thinkers, scientists, dreamers, and the rest of us that make it possible for us to make the progress to keep us forever moving forward.
The sign reminded us that we need to keep working and making sure that government, the collective of people who come together to assure that the welfare of the nation is protected and developed to its fullest potential possible, is protected from people who don’t have the vision to see the benefits of investing into the future as a nation. Without the government the seminar that I attended would not have been possible. The highway system, the internet, the global positioning system, and many other things wouldn’t be possible if our government didn’t do its part to make progress possible. No corporation could ever do what our government has done.
To add just one more caveat to the mix, it was a federal government that made it possible for a couple of black people to pack their son into a car and travel across the country with some semblance of security that they would arrive safely to participate in the development of database applications as entrepreneurs for a fledgling software company. While the system is far from fair, without the federal government the second class status of black people would be even worse than it is now. It’s the government that initiated the social economic change that is helping to dismantle the bigotry that would have black people exist at white people’s property. The way a lot of people in the tea party operate, their against that kind of progress as well.
Anybody who reads this blog on a regular basis should know I can be pretty critical of President Barack Obama. Mr. Obama has been very careful to keep the black community at arm’s length so as not to give his political opponents any reason to bring race into the picture. Mr. Obama will deny that his race is a factor for any of the criticism and outright hatred that many of his constituents have for him. It’s understandable. In politics, it would be easy to say that a black man that embraces black people will be anti white.
When asked for his opinion on the Trayvon Martin case, Mr. Obama said that if he had a son he’d look like the slain teenager. Some conservatives were quick to use that comment as evidence that Mr. Obama doesn’t care for white teenagers. The same thing happened when Mr. Obama tried to put accusations of racism against white people aside when he addressed his relationship with his former pastor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright. In his speech, he talked about the racism he witnessed from his grandmother who he described as a typical white person. Many of his critics were quick to say that Mr. Obama threw his grandmother under his bus. This man can’t say anything about race without somebody calling him racist.
In order to give Mr. Obama some slack from the race factor, many people in the black community were willing to give Mr. Obama a pass from addressing the needs of the black community. Most black people were confident that Mr. Obama would do what’s best for the black community without being asked for assurances or for an understanding what his plan would be. He was a shoe in to win the black vote after all. Wasn’t he one of us? Didn’t he have black skin? So did Clarence Thomas and you see where that got us.
Nevertheless, the black community voted for Mr. Obama in droves and we kept our questions and concerns to ourselves. But that only helped to lead Mr. Obama astray. Instead of keeping his focus on our communities, his attention was elsewhere as he did his best to keep the assurances he gave to others around the nation and throughout the world. Mr. Obama bent over backwards to try and win favor from his conservative opponents. When the conservatives were making their pact to deny Mr. Obama anything that could be construed as a success, Mr. Obama was trying his best to gain the favor of conservative constituents by compromising time and time again with people who refused to compromise.
But by letting Mr. Obama off the hook and free to pursue the favor of conservatives who demanded concession after concession before saying no to everything, we left Mr. Obama to wander away from his political base in a fruitless appeal for bipartisanship with people who would rather drive the country to ruin in order to make Mr. Obama look like a failure than agree with him on anything that would improve the national welfare.
Mr. Obama seems to have awakened from his delusion that conservative politicians can be reasoned with. He now recognizes the fact that his political future and the future of the country depends on him taking a harder line on the people trying their best to sabotage his leadership. Mr. Obama now understands that it is naïve to think that he can negotiate with people who want him to fail at any and all cost.
Just like Mr. Obama has awakened from his slumber, the black community needs to awake from its slumber as well. If people had made sure that Mr. Obama focused his attention on the things that were important to the black community like jobs and the protection of educational opportunities and unemployment benefits while the country works through its malaise. It’s unfortunate that healthcare reform was done without a single payer option. But now that conservatives have challenged the reform in its current iteration, if it gets rejected maybe Mr. Obama would push for it on a second round. All of those things would help people in the black community as well as people who need help throughout the country.
If the black community wants to help Mr. Obama have a successful presidency, the black community needs to be willing to criticize Mr. Obama when he goes off course from his base. Staying mum as he goes down what we feel is the wrong path isn’t helping. The people who may care most about him having a successful shouldn’t be afraid to speak up and give him some feedback on what we see going down in the political arena. If we showed something that resembled a political backbone, maybe he wouldn’t be so quick to turn a back on his base to win the political favor of others.
Criticizing Mr. Obama when he fails to protect our interest is not necessarily an automatic condemnation. It ranks right up there when a parent criticizes a child or a supervisor criticizes an employee. Feedback should be welcomed in a relationship that remains respectful for everyone concerned. When Mr. Obama fails to represent us, when he fails to respect us along with the rest of his constituencies and we fail to bring that fact to his attention, we have no one but ourselves to blame for his lack of concern for us.
Mr. Obama is up for reelection and the black community, along with the Hispanic community, along with the female community, along with the Jewish community, along with the gay and lesbian community, along with the white community, along with the business community, and every other community, has interests that should be voiced and protected.
President Barack Obama is under attack for politicizing the assassination of Osama bin Laden. Before Mr. Obama ever set foot in the White House as our commander in chief, people were trying to paint him as too weak to keep the country safe. Mitt Romney has often criticized the President for having an ineffective foreign policy, claiming that the President travels around the world to foreign countries apologizing on behalf of the United States and appeasing terrorist, the very people who are moving heaven and hell to hurt us.
To counter the claim that his foreign policy is worthless, Mr. Obama has used the one year anniversary of the death of Osama bin Laden, the mastermind behind the attacks on September 11th that destroyed the twin towers of the World Trade Center and heavily damaged the Pentagon, to remind people that it was his leadership that led to the United States’ greatest foreign policy triumph. And now, the opponents say that Mr. Obama is not playing fair and is trying to take credit for something that Mr. Romney claims even somebody as politically feeble as Jimmy Carter would have done.
First, everything the President does revolve around politics. If the President gets a dog it becomes a political issue. If the President takes his wife to a play in New York’s Times Square it becomes a political issue. If the President finds himself ahead of schedule and takes time to get a haircut his opponents are ready to pounce. And if he as so much grabs a burger, people will point to his potentially poor dietary choice as an example of how the people shouldn’t trust him to make the hard choices to keep us safe. Everything the President does can and will be used against him in a court of public opinion.
If people stand ready to use everything he does against him, it is only fair that he can use everything he does to support his brand. It’s why the guy who wears the title of President when the Berlin Wall comes down takes credit for the fall of the wall. It’s why the commander in chief will allow somebody to put up a “mission accomplish” banner on the front windshield of an aircraft carrier to proclaim premature success for his rash decision to go to war. If the President doesn’t toot his own horn once in a while, who will?
When he campaigned for the White House then Senator Obama made it clear that he would make the elimination of Osama a top priority if he was elected. Mr. Bush admitted that he didn’t care to look for the puppet master behind the greatest terrorist attack against the United States. Mr. Obama said he would finish the job left by his predecessor. At the same time, Mr. Romney said he wouldn’t waste America’s resources in a hunt for a single man and didn’t think it should be a priority. Mr. Obama won the election and kept his word, albeit very quietly. He rarely made a public statement filled with bravado about how tough he would be on America’s enemies.
America didn’t just happen on bin Laden. It took an intelligence network and the cooperation of many people around the world, American personnel and people from many other countries, to find him. That’s evidence of a foreign policy. In order to effectively run and maintain that network there had to be resources in place to sustain that network, resources that other people would not commit because they didn’t think his capture was important.
Finding the terrorist was just one of the first steps. Next, a plan had to be concocted to deal with him. More resources were expended to train the people who were going to go in and get him. Navy Seal Team Six needed to have every advantage to assure their success. Intelligence had to be gathered to uncover every bit of information related to the compound where Osama was staying. That information was used to recreate a simulation compound so that the team could rehearse their infiltration procedure. Intelligence continued to be gathered in order to determine the best time to spring the assault. And all of that had to happen with the approval and under the direction of the President. It didn’t happen in a vacuum.
Now, Jimmy Carter made a similar call as President when Iranian students took over the American embassy in Iran and took sixty six Americans hostage back in 1979. When diplomacy failed to win the release of the hostages, Mr. Carter gave the military his blessing to attempt a rescue. In April of 1980 Operation Eagle Claw failed miserably with the death of eight American servicemen and one Iranian civilian when a United States helicopter crashed into a C-130 Hercules transport plane.
Mr. Carter made the call to go into hostile territory on a daring mission and it failed. He paid a considerable political price for that decision. The idea that Mr. Carter deserves scorn for the failure of the people he led in a crisis situation is a part of politics. If he had succeeded, things would have been much different. He knew what the risk were and pulled that trigger regardless. It was a tough decision that was met with tough luck. But that’s politics when you’re the President.
Mr. Carter’s failure only put more pressure on Mr. Obama when he was faced with a similar decision. Failure would be a serious albatross that would impact the political future for not just Mr. Obama but the entire Democratic Party. People already assume that conservatives are better at keeping America safe and that liberals are incompetent when it comes to commanding our military. If Mr. Obama’s decisions proved disastrous, it would have only cemented that political perception and opponents would have taken advantage of it. Many of his advisers suggested that he not give the go ahead. Mr. Obama had to weigh the odds. In the end, he pulled the trigger and the mission was accomplished, finally.
Republican pundits are now saying that the assassination of bin Laden was such a unifying accomplishment for the nation that it should be off limits. A year ago, even the Republicans who would rather stand up during a presidential address and yell that the President was a liar had to give Mr. Obama his props for a job well done. It was a remarkable feat of leadership. But now it’s nothing special, anybody would have done it, anybody but President Bush that is.
Conservative political pundit Ed Gillespie went on the Sunday morning political talk shows and said that Mr. Obama was trying to use the accomplishment of the death of bin Laden as a wedge issue against the conservatives and that was indicative of him trying to divide the country. The death of bin Laden was a unifying event and now that he wants to use it as a proof of his leadership was now dividing us. So the assumption is that anything that the President points to as proof of how he brought a politically divided country together with his leadership is politically divisive. There’s just bizarre logic that only makes sense on opposite day.
Another pundit said that as a leader, Mr. Obama shouldn’t be trying to take credit for the successes of the people he leads. The only thing a good leader should be taking is the responsibility for failure. That’s why so many people who lead corporations get paid tens of millions of dollars in an annual compensation package. They never take credit for leading a company to financial success. They only take credit for leading a company to financial ruin. It’s just more nonsense to hold Mr. Obama to a different standard.
The assassination of bin Laden was an achievement that every American can enjoy. The fact that it was Mr. Obama that led the country to that accomplishment as he said he would do was something that he can take great pride in. The people who feel that this now gives Mr. Obama unfair proof of his ability to lead and defend himself against their accusations that he’s incompetent is just the way things fall in politics.
Good job Mr. Obama! If your opponents want to criticize you as being a poor leader when it comes to foreign policy, that’s going to be pretty hard to do with Osama’s demise under your belt. But that won’t mean they won’t try. Don’t let your opponents define the limits of what is and what’s not admissible as a political issue. Don’t let them take this one away from you.