Archive

Posts Tagged ‘Barack Obama’

Open Letter to President Barack Obama: The Day after the Debacle

October 5, 2012 1 comment

Dear President Obama:

I was raised to believe that it’s not nice to talk behind people’s backs, so I am bringing my concerns directly to you. When I say, with all due respect, I sincerely mean it. And so it is with all due respect, the day after the debacle, I must discuss last night’s debate with you.

I have watched you with admiration since you delivered the Keynote Address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention. And while I have some policy concerns (e.g., the ongoing housing crisis, aspects of Wall Street reform, and the NDAA), I do believe that you are the best candidate for these times. The interests of the middle-class, the elderly, Generation X and Y, college students, veterans, women, immigrants, the LGBT community…well, 99% of the country, are better served by the policies advanced by the Democratic Party. Unfortunately, many of our concerns weren’t discussed in the debate because Gov. Romney hijacked the debate with lies and talk of eliminating funding for Big Bird.

You can change that by making sure Gov. Romney is accountable for his past statements and explicit about his future policies.

However, Mr. President, you understand as well as anyone that politics has become as much about perceived style as it is about policy substance. Last night, Sir, you were a policy wonk in the worst sense of the word. Wonks can often present policy in a manner that is dry and uninteresting, without regard for whether the audience is engaged or interested. You are known as “No Drama Obama.” Awesome, but no drama cannot be confused with no life or no preparation. Mr. President, last night, you appeared both lifeless and unprepared. I don’t believe that the demands of the office have sapped you of your charm and star power. But it’s not me you need to convince.

What happened? Was last night a part of a larger strategy? Have you been watching Muhammad Ali fights? Do you want us all to recall that larger than life figure in American culture, is that why you hung back evoking images of Ali doing his classic “Rope-A—Dope?” Are you trying to make Romney the dope? It’s an interesting idea, but you run the risk of looking like a dope yourself since there is no margin for error as the clock winds down toward Election Day.

Put up your dukes, Mr. President. If you are fighting for us, then fight Mitt Romney.

Was it a legal strategy? Were you trying to get Gov. Romney to offer testimony on the record so that you can impeach him and expose his perjury later? Oh… You were trying to give him enough rope to hang himself. But then why didn’t you immediately go back and point out the lies? President Obama, you know that in the 24-hour news cycle a lie repeated loud and often enough becomes the truth. It is your responsibility to make sure that the truth comes to light – not just for your sake, but for the sake of the American voter.

Mr. President, I do not understand how you could let Mitt Romney commit a “hit and run,” he hit the American public with so many lies and half-truths, and then he ran from his own record. How could you let him lie and misdirect about issues important to all of us, from taxes to Obamacare to Medicare to Dodd-Frank? There were so many lies the Romney/Ryan ticket would tell us “it’s so complicated” that they couldn’t explain it now…it was THAT many lies and half-truths. But you let those lies go unchallenged.

Was it a lack of preparation or a lack of political bloodlust that caused you to be so polite? To quote Mitt Romney, “this ain’t bean bag.” Politics, like life, is a full contact sport. Sir, while you were mostly factually correct, debates aren’t watched for facts, they are watched for style. The folks who think you lost the first debate believe this because they preferred Romney’s style, certainly not because his performance has held up to fact-checking.  Please be our prosecutor. On direct examination of Romney, insist on specifics, and when those details don’t make sense – CALL HIM ON IT! Democrats will love you for it, and Independents will respect you for it.

And as you prepare for the next debate, I encourage you to remember that Mitt Romney is taking great pains to make sure that he is prepared. Leave nothing to chance. Prepare, and then prepare some more. Don’t give talk of inadequate preparation any oxygen. As we saw last night, you must be prepared for anything, ranging from poor moderation of the debate to Mitt Romney 75.0, yet another version of your opponent as he shakes the Etch-a-Sketch.

Don’t let it escape America’s notice that Mitt flips, flops, flips, then does a double twisting back lay-out, and the truth is nowhere in the vicinity.

Whoever was responsible for prepping you for last night’s debate is guilty of political malpractice, which is a charge I normally level at the Romney campaign. Don’t allow it to become a habit that I can make such an assertion stick about your campaign.

 

President Obama and First Lady Obama after the First Presidential Debate in Denver, Colorado on October 3, 2012

And Mr. President, you seemed joyless and almost pained in parts. Have some fun in the dismantling of the deceitful mass of political contradictions that is the Romney/Ryan ticket. Please remember the one thing you have that Gov. Romney doesn’t…likeability. Most of America likes you, and no one likes a liar. Expose him for what he is.

Since discussions of the debate have been overwhelmed with sports metaphors, Sir, it’s time for you to get your game face on. You must treat the next two debates like Game 7 of the World Series or World Championship or the last quarter of the Super Bowl. It is now or never. So Mr. President, you have to leave it all out there on the floor.

The day after the debacle, everyone has 20/20 hindsight. We all are full of critique, disapproval and judgment about your performance. But the day after the debacle, you, Mr. President have begun to make lemonade out of the lemons on the campaign trail with a fire and crisp delivery that was absent last night. But most important, the day after the debacle, you can review and assess to make sure that you don’t have a repeat of the Denver Debate in your upcoming encounters with Gov. Romney.

One thing is clear the day after the debacle; the biggest losers of the night were Jim Lehrer, the American voter and the TRUTH. You have two more chances to make it up to the American voter and the truth.

I hate debacles, but I love a good debate. BRING IT! And please, next debate, look into the camera and speak directly to us. We’re listening.

Respectfully yours,

Pundit On Point

Advertisements

London Olympics 2012: Romney Takes the Gold in Gaffes

Mitt Romney has had a very rough July. There are lingering questions about when he left Bain Capital, the private equity financial services firm he founded in 1984. There are mounting calls from Republicans AND Democrats for him to release his tax returns. He generously, please read the dripping sarcasm, released the 2010 tax return and an estimate for the 2011 tax return. Mitt Romney was anxious to reset the conversation. What better way to do that, while “appearing presidential” and reminding America of Romney’s greatest national success, the 2002 Salt Lake City Olympics, than a European tour?

Sounds like a smart plan, doesn’t it? It would be if you were dealing with a smart politician. But we are talking about Mitt Romney. His own senior advisor unintentionally gave us the metaphor of an Etch-A-Sketch to describe his boss. In private, Mitt Romney might be a delightful and charming person, but as a public person, he has all the personality of Pinocchio, before he became a puppet… The many faces of Romney show that he is about as truthful as Pinocchio, and has about as solid a core. But I digress.

Although it is still very early in Mitt’s trip and the Olympic torch has barely been lit, Mitt Romney is already dominating in Olympic gaffes and insults. He took the gold in every gaffe event yesterday…he had no competitors.

In one day, Romney managed to amass an impressive heap of insults that drew the ire of the British Prime Minister and the Mayor of London, as well as the British press and most British citizens. Mitt took the gold for the Bad Manners gaffe. Let’s not forget that he had the amazing lapse in judgment of wanting to let the world know that he was cool enough to meet with the head of MI-6. Mitt also took the gold for the Indiscretion gaffe.

Here’s the thing, MI-6 is a covert intelligence agency was not formerly recognized until 1994. They don’t want some American doofus bragging about a meeting. So Mitt Romney can keep HIS TAX RETURNS a secret, but it doesn’t occur to him to keep a meeting with a covert intelligence agency quiet? Doesn’t sound very presidential to me, sounds more like a teenager bragging to his friends that he scored.

The other thing that Mitt managed to keep quiet was his fundraiser held by executives of the scandal-plagued Barclays Bank. If it fell off of your news radar, the Barclays LIBOR situation is an inside baseball scandal that has a financial impact on the average American. We all need to learn more about it. The folks at Barclays are doing what every other corporate interest does; they are trying to buy potential access to the White House. We should have heightened concerns because for all of the demonization of all things “foreign,” foreign political campaign contributions flow unchecked into the system. Barclays Bank is just one source. For the Barclays fundraiser, Mitt wins the gold for the Hypocrisy gaffe, again!

After he was savaged in the British and American press, and elected officials in the UK and the United States, Mitt did started a floor exercise routine that a world class gymnast would envy. There were runs, jumps, tumbling, Etch-A-Sketch shakes – all done in reverse because by the time he was finished, Mitt was praising the city that he was doubting several HOURS earlier. For his efforts, Mitt earns a gold medal for position reversal, also known as Etch-A-Sketching.

Yes, Mitt has already cleaned up in the gaffe events at the London Olympics, before the commentators have a chance to say unfortunate things, and after athletes have already begun tweeting stupid things they wish they could take back. But none of them are pursuing the presidency of the United States. Not one of those individuals would be responsible for the safety of the Free World.

We have to wonder: if Mitt Romney can’t handle this low stakes assignment, what will he do when the stakes are higher? When you don’t believe in anything other than your ambition, then when times get tough, how tough can you get?

And we all thought Rafalca, the fancy dancing dressage horse, would be the only Romney medal winner in the 2012 London Olympics. We underestimated how gaffe-prone this guy is, even in the most friendly environment.

Yes, the man who wants to be President is giving a clinic on how NOT to appear Presidential. For this, he takes home yet another gold medal. If American voters aren’t paying attention to this pattern of gaffes and deception, which isn’t acceptable no matter how great the ginned-up disappointment in President Obama, then those folks will deserve a medal on November 7th if Mitt Romney becomes president – Gold medal in Civic Malpractice or Political Negligence.

And Mittens, we’ll be asking for those tax returns again when you get home. Safe travels!

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

All Rights Reserved

Marriage Equality Hypocrisy: The New Black, Part II – Activism?

 

PART II:  ACTIVISM

The Black church was a mainstay and source of inspiration during the darkest days of oppression for Blacks in America. As important, the Black church was seen as a source of community organizing that was translated into political activism and community advocacy.

Yet, the Black community has developed a certain measure of hubris and complacency about civil rights since the 1960’s, when the legal landscape for Blacks changed because of new laws and Supreme Court decisions. Because activism in the Black community has become fat, lazy and content, it becomes easier to believe that in 2012, the Black Church is being used as a wedge and source of intolerance. The target for this discrimination is against another group that is being marginalized and deprived of equal protection under the law – the LGTBQ community.

It is never appropriate for this country to pursue laws and policies that discriminate. Discrimination runs counter to the vision of America that is expressed in the Declaration of Independence and the policies and procedures of the country set forth in the US Constitution, as it has been amended.

As I did in 2010, I won’t discuss the religious arguments that have been raised against Marriage Equality. Why? Because the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment creates a separation of church and state, this takes religion out of this situation for me and many others. If a church wants to refuse to recognize same sex marriages, I would go to the mat to protect their religious liberty, which is also constitutionally protected. But we aren’t talking about religious ceremonies and beliefs. When it comes to Marriage Equality, the conversation is about equal protection under the law.

I am struck by how many people don’t recognize that marriage is also a civil, legal contract between two parties. In the same way that buying a house is done according to the law and in a way that bars discrimination, the civil contract of marriage should be viewed through the same prism. The law cannot, and must not, be selectively applied.  Equal protection under the law is guaranteed to every American by the 14th Amendment. The 14th Amendment doesn’t say “equal protection, provided that certain religious factions are okay with it.”

There are some who ask why must same sex couples have marriage equality? Why isn’t a “civil union” sufficient for “them?” When Black folks ask this question, I find it especially painful. It is within the lifetime of many Black folks uttering this despicable question that we were told to be content with “separate but equal” education, public facilities, and limitations on our ability to marry who we loved. Segregation of Blacks was rationalized with Bible verses in the beliefs strongly held by God-fearing, hate mongering Christians. Bible verses were cited as the moral rationalization for depriving American citizens of their liberty, and from their equal measure of citizenship.

No citizen should be required to accept a second-class status flowing from any legal transaction or status. This disgusting approach is not only illegal; it is also immoral in the country that is the leader of the free world. In the way that only equality was, and is, sufficient for the Black community and women, the LGBTQ community has every right to demand and expect nothing less as well. It would be hypocritical for anyone engaged in the fight for social justice to accept anything less. As Black folks and women continue to struggle for the full realization of equality, the LGBT community must realize that the struggle will be long and difficult.

Because the vote is such a uniquely essential tool in the political process, I have a heightened measure of disgust for the members of the Black clergy who have stated that they will tell their congregations to stay at home and not vote for Barack Obama in November. What? We are in a time when states like Florida are purging thousands from their voter rolls, and 34 states have voter ID laws in an effort to disenfranchise the Black and Latino community, the elderly and the young. The American Legislative Executive Council (“ALEC”), didn’t have to lift a finger apparently. Some remarkably ignorant and short-sighted members of the Black clergy have been more than happy to do ALEC’s dirty work. The Black clergy has a legacy of empowering its community and preaching about liberation and justice that is inextricably intertwined with the history of Blacks in America. These members of the clergy advocating for the same type of fear and discrimination that attempted to subjugate and humiliate Blacks for centuries. The most damaging to the psyche and reality of Black folks is the fact that some members of the Black clergy are encouraging voters to stay away from the polls during an election that will prove crucial to the fate of under-represented minorities.  What is the justification for this civic malpractice? A stance on a single social issue, grounded in bigotry. I find this position unbelievably dangerously reckless and irresponsible.

What everyone must bear in mind is the fact that the expansion of justice and liberty in America serves to enhance the entire country, not diminish any of it. The elimination of the last vestiges of unequal protection under the law doesn’t infringe upon other Americans’ liberty, especially the Black community.

In the wake of President Obama’s statement about his evolved position on Marriage Equality, Black celebrities, such as Chris Rock, Jay Z, and most interestingly, the man who is the former head of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and a former Secretary of State, Colin Powell have all stepped forward to express their support for same sex marriage. President Obama and these celebrities aren’t the only ones in the Black Community to evolve in their position about Marriage Equality, but the changing attitudes reflect a community in the process of changing its mind. Hopefully the shift in attitude in the Black community, known to be socially conservative, bodes well for the rest of the country. Opposition to same sex marriage in the Black Community has decreased after the President’s interview, but that isn’t necessarily translating into increased support for gay marriage. It is a work in progress.

It isn’t enough to say that you no longer support discrimination. Those no longer in opposition to Marriage Equality must remember the quote attributed to Edmund Burke, “All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing.”  America, home of the American Dream, must no longer give the full measure of liberty to some, while actively seeking to discriminate against others. “Equal Justice Under Law.” It is what is inscribed on the building that houses the US Supreme Court. These words cannot merely be decorative. They have to have practical application…for every American.  Any other approach is legally wrong and morally offensive.

I guess the level of hypocrisy about Marriage Equality is en vogue in the Black community. But I don’t understand it. There must be a NEW Black Community embracing this moral and legal hypocrisy. I guess hypocrisy is the NEW BLACK.

 

Follow @PunditOnPoint on Twitter

“Like” Pundit On Point on Facebook

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

Marriage Equality Hypocrisy: The New Black, Part I

June 9, 2012 1 comment

PART I: PRESIDENT OBAMA AND HISTORY

President Barack Obama speaks to ABC News’ Robin Roberts about Marriage Equality

On May 9th, 2012, President Barack Obama, the first Black President of the United States, did something extraordinary. The day after North Carolina became one of 30 states to vote bigotry into its state constitution, President Obama spoke out against bigotry and discrimination when he expressed his personal support for same sex marriage. I will be honest and say that it has taken me this long to figure out exactly what I wanted to say about the situation. The President’s remarks were a statement that is, arguably, the most significant statement on civil rights made by a President since the Emancipation Proclamation. All of America, but the Black community in particular, should have heaved a collective sigh of relief that any of our presidents finally had the courage to stand for the concepts of equal protection expressed in the Constitution…not just in theory, but in practice.

The Black community should have been so very proud that Barack Obama had the principles to speak out against discrimination in a way that no other president in recent memory had. I was thrilled because I publicly expressed my support for Marriage Equality and my call for every American to take this stance over two years ago. Many didn’t bother to parse the President’s comments on same-sex marriage for their real impact on current policy regarding Marriage Equality, which is minimal. Instead, there was a visceral reaction based in fear and bigotry. What made this reaction so sad and infuriating was that, for many including some in the Black community, their bigoted discrimination is wrapped in the Bible and tied with a bow of “Christianity” that Christ wouldn’t even recognize.

I am underwhelmed and disappointed by the hypocrisy of those in the Black Community who do not support Marriage Equality. The history of Black folks in America is long, complicated and full of painful injustices. The Constitution had its infamous “Three-fifths Compromise” that was good for everyone, except Black people.  The Dred Scott decision was handed down by the US Supreme Court in 1857 showing cowardice and a political cravenness that would make the current Roberts Court jealous. The 13th, 14th, and 15th Amendments, in the wake of the Emancipation Proclamation, offered hope that America would finally deliver on the promise of the ideals set out in the Declaration of Independence. But that hope was snatched away with the Plessy v. Ferguson decision in 1896.

If you aren’t aware, Plessy created the doctrine of “Separate, but Equal.” Plessy was also the legal foundation for Jim Crow Segregation, which stood until Brown v. Board of Education in 1954. It wasn’t until 1967, with the Loving v. Virginia decision, which ended race-based impediments to legal marriage, that Blacks could truly marry whoever they wanted. The fight for equality, regardless of race, is by no means over.  The history of civil rights fights and victories in America casts a long and impressive shadow. The Black Community has a long tradition of standing up for what is right and just. Abolitionists, like Sojourner Truth and Fredrick Douglass, who fought slavery in the 19th Century were also active members of the Women’s Suffragist movement. There was a moral consistency in that position.  The Niagara Movement, the precursor of the NAACP, was the manifestation of the old Black community that maintained the fight for justice against all comers, including the Catholic Church, in the very early years of the 20th Century. There was recognition that the expansion of rights enhances the concepts of liberty and justice for every American. As Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. said, “Injustice anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere.”

The new Black community must understand the past and present suffering that comes from discrimination. The new Black community, like the old Black community, must stand on the right side of history and fight for equality wherever discrimination exists. It’s not too late to evolve and follow the fine example set by President Obama. The NAACP did this a few weeks after the President’s remarks when they announced the NAACP’s emphatic support for Marriage Equality.  The old Black community fought for justice, and the new Black community must learn from and follow their example.

The New Black must never side with legal or social injustice, nor should the New Black ever stand for moral hypocrisy.

Follow @PunditOnPoint on Twitter.

“Like” Pundit On Point on Facebook.

BARACK OBAMA: President of Cool

The media could be full of REAL NEWS. The War on Women is being waged openly in votes taken on the reauthorization of the Violence Against Women Act. The Secret Service evidently haggled with hoes in other countries, so the entire culture of the agency needs to be reexamined. Student loan interest is being politicized, and if nothing constructive is done, interest rates will double on July 1st. Most forgettable of all was news that Newt Gingrich realized what all of us knew months ago, he has no chance of becoming president, and will therefore drop out of the race.

But none of that mattered because this was the Week of Cool, which will conclude with the White House Correspondents’ Dinner on Saturday, April 28th.

Cool… If President Obama is Cool personified, and this week was the Week of Cool, then he had a great week, right?

Cool is defined in the Merriam-Webster Dictionary as “marked by steady dispassionate calmness and self-control; lacking ardor or friendliness,” or “SLANG- a) very good: excellent; b) fashionable, hip.”  Why I find this subject so intriguing is that the President’s opponents want to have it both ways. They want to have us believe that President Obama is TOO cool in every sense of the word.  But after the Week of Cool, so it became impossible to believe that Willard Mitt Romney could ever be president of the country that gave birth to Cool.

After Candidate “No Drama” Obama became President Obama, we began to hear that he was aloof and too intellectual in his approach to his responsibilities in the Oval Office. I understand that we had to adjust after eight years of George W. Bush, whose style was less…scholarly. If the President was logical and methodical, then he was called “Spock-like.” If the President’s excellent educational credentials and background as a Constitutional Law professor caused him to seek information through rigorous questioning, also known as the Socratic Method (the bane of any First Year law student’s existence), then it was further affirmation that he was from the Planet Vulcan.

The GOP should remember that this President has been forged in the fires of the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, crushing Health Care and Wall Street Reform debates that he won, ending the War in Iraq, and the longest war in American history in Afghanistan. All while the country and world is undergoing tremendous social, economic and political upheaval. Barack Obama is a fighter. I thought of cool fighters: Muhammad Ali and Bruce Lee were the first ones to come to mind. Both were charming opponents who were amazing, smart, devastating fighters…and cool. That is Barack Obama as well.

But what the President’s opponents really wanted, was the stretch him out of his character, into a caricature. They wanted to see him in the stereotypical posture they could sell to America’s fears, the “Angry Black Man.” But he would never oblige them. His cultural competence was too great, the job he has is too significant to give into such self-indulgence. Barack Obama is a political Jackie Robinson. But don’t let the Cool taste fool you.  Barack Obama must be “marked by steady dispassionate calmness and self-control.” When he gave the order to kill Osama Bin Laden in his compound in Pakistan, President Obama “lacked ardor or friendliness.” A dangerous world demands a president who so cool that he has more to offer than “no apologies.”

But in the Week of Cool, the GOP doesn’t want us to remember the President’s intellectual gifts or his icy decision making capability. No, they want us to remember him as the President of Cool America, as in fashionable, hip, and exclusive. In Cool America, Jay-Z, Kim Kardashian and Ryan Seacrest could have Cabinet-level positions. The GOP, the chronically unhip kids, want to take us all back to high school. They are trying to make Barack Obama a cliché, the popular kid who was too cool to notice the average kids and their problems. The first 1% that we all experienced. They keep pointing to the President’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon as an indication of how lightly his takes his responsibilities, but this is fictious as fairness in the Ryan Budget.

I say the President’s Slow Jam of the News was a stroke of genius. He brought a rush of attention to an issue that was getting swept under the rug by Congress. Now college students realize what is about to happen to them. More importantly, they understand that they have a say. President Obama may have created the newest generation of activists by that late night appearance. The President made it “fashionable” and “hip” to discuss student loans this week. I say “Bravo!”

According to Malcolm Gladwell’s “The Coolhunt,” there are  three rules of Cool: 1) the quicker the chase of Cool , the faster the its flight ; 2) you can’t just manufacture Cool out of thin air; and 3) you have to be Cool to know Cool. The White House Correspondents’ Dinner will be held on Saturday. One of the best things about Cool is its ability to create the inside joke because it “knows Cool.” When President Obama and Jimmy Fallon Slow Jammed the News, President was making a serious policy point and most of America got the cool, inside joke. If you didn’t, now you know why.

Follow me on Twitter @PunditOnPoint

‘Like” PunditOnPoint on Facebook

Add PunditOnPoint to Your Circle on Google+

Subscribe to the Pundit On Point Blog

Copyright 2012

Kimberly S. Jones

The Joke Is On Us

July 22, 2010 6 comments

And it is a bad joke.  When I refer to a bad joke, I am being somewhat ironic about Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack’s apology to Shirley Sherrod. I wanted to write laughingly about the stupidity of celebrity and how the famous are going to jail this week – Lindsey Lohan and Wesley Snipes, but it is not to be this week.  I must be serious and turn to the Shirley Sherrod situation. In case you have been far, far away or in a coma, Shirley Sherrod is a former USDA official in the state of Georgia.  Ms. Sherrod told a story several months ago at an NAACP conference in Georgia about an encounter she had 24 years ago with a white farmer who came to her seeking her help.  Ms. Sherrod told the story about the farmer’s “superior” attitude.  But she also spoke of her realization that it wasn’t a matter of black or white, but of haves and have-nots.  She went on to help this farmer who is still on his farm today and considers Ms. Sherrod a friend.  But out of fear of ending up on Glenn Beck’s Fox News program, officials at the USDA pressured Ms. Sherrod, over three phone calls, to pull over to the side of the road so she could “resign” via Blackberry.  Not to be outdone, the NAACP quickly condemned Ms. Sherrod.  Here’s the problem, no one involved in the forced resignations or the condemnations took the time to listen to the whole speech and put the remarks in context.  So today, everyone is falling all over themselves to apologize and blame Fox News and other extreme right-wing commentators.  Yes, it’s a bad joke.

It’s a joke for the Obama Administration to offer an apology after they jumped on the train to “Rush to Judgment.”  It is too late for the NAACP and for the Obama Administration – and yes, it is also too late for Shirley Sherrod.  The hatchet job done on this woman is disgusting, but is also faintly familiar.  Anyone else recognize it?  It looks like the mauling of Van Jones.  Van Jones, as a young man with world-wide recognition, can, and has, come back from the high-tech lynching that was done to him.  Shirley Sherrod wasn’t a superstar, just a woman with a lifetime of committed hard work.  She should be contemplating retirement, on her own terms and in her own time, not a forced resignation.  As with Van Jones, the hatchet job done to Ms. Sherrod was enabled by the Obama Administration.  An apology is woefully inadequate in this situation, and is in fact, a joke.

But Secretary Vilsack and Press Secretary Robert Gibbs’ apologies were so badly timed and poorly delivered that, like all bad jokes, they fell flat.  I cannot offer a justification for the Obama Administration that passes a personal “straight face” test, so I won’t even bother.  But there will be a price to pay within the Black Community for the times that the Obama Administration has willfully turned its back on Black members of the Obama Administration and thrown them to the media wolves to appease the rabid Right-Wing.  Has Barack Obama made the classic Democratic mistake and taken the Black Community for granted?  It is a mistake that I wouldn’t advise making.

Speaking of jokes, the NAACP does itself tremendous harm in this whole sordid affair.  In its second century of existence, the NAACP made a stab at relevance last week by condemning “racist elements” in the TEA Party Movement.  It was the sort of bold move of leadership that made the NAACP an organization that used to be worthy of respect.  And hope for the NAACP created by their justifiable action against those in the TEA Party Movement who use the fear of many Americans during these uncertain times as a justification for racism was dashed completely by the actions of the NAACP this week.   The NAACP has assisted in the high-tech lynching of Ms. Sherrod, which is one of the parts of this whole situation that makes it that much more tragic.  A question that we must ask the NAACP, regardless of one’s race, is what its role is in the 21st Century?  Is the NAACP beyond irrelevant?  In its quest for relevance, has it become a danger to the community it is supposed to serve?

There is a special aspect of this affair that has caught my eye.  There is misogyny in the Black Community, the details and permutations of which I won’t go into here, but I don’t doubt it exists.  And the mainstream media loves to demonize Black women as well.  Who can forget the welfare queens of the Reagan Era?  Forget the facts; it was a better story to generate the concept of the Black welfare queen than to examine the facts.  The story created was so compelling that even Black folks started to buy into the “Welfare Queen” fiction.  Since the unsung heroes of the Civil Rights Movement were women like the late Dorothy Height, the NAACP owes Black women a special debt.  Although we are capable of fighting for ourselves, Black women now have to anticipate attack from Black institutions that won’t take the time to find out the facts and fight with us?  And Barack Obama, as a man with two lovely and smart Black daughters, should be horrified to see how America handled Ms. Sherrod.  I hope that Barack Obama will personally apologize for actions done in his name against an innocent Black woman.

For me, this story has added significance.  My family received land grants during Reconstruction – 40 acres and a mule.  The family has its share of efforts from whites who tried to steal or cheat my family out of this land.  Let’s not forget about the countless Black farmers who were cheated out of their land over the decades.  It is still happening, and not just on farms but in urban areas facing re-gentrification pressures.  I am glad that there was, at least for a time, a Black woman who helped everyone keep land that had been in the family for generations.  In Oakland, Fort Greene, Harlem, San Francisco and countless other cities, where is the outrage for everyone who is losing their homes to foreclosure.  But that is a topic for another day.

Here is the real joke.  Many of us bought into the fiction that we had moved to a post-racial America with the election of Barack Obama.  But in this allegedly post-racial time, we find an elevation, not a deflation, of racial conflicts, confrontations and misunderstandings.  It’s ironic to me that the first Black president doesn’t exemplify this post-racial ideal, instead he allowed his Administration to take out a real example of what the post-racial America should look like. There’s nothing funny about what happened to Shirley Sherrod.  No apology will restore her reputation fully or compensate her for the distress of the past several days.  But it is a joke; to me at least, that anyone is surprised that this happened at all.  And the vast Right-Wing conspiracy that Hillary Clinton used to tell us about – it’s a reverse of Santa Claus – it IS real.

The Problem with Barack: Us

July 7, 2010 12 comments

Okay, I confess.  I like and admire Barack Obama.  I’ve been a fan since his keynote address at the 2004 Democratic National Convention.  He spoke passionately about one America, not a red and blue state America.  As I watched him, then a relative unknown from Chicago, I knew that he had something special.  When he became a US Senator, I knew he was destined for greatness.  Flash-forward to 2008, Barack Obama earned his way into the White House with a superior campaign and a message of change and integrity.  What’s not to like?  President Obama provides a role model for us all.  He is smart, accomplished, sincere, and compassionate.  He’s a family man with a beautiful, smart wife and two great children.  He is dedicated to getting the job done – No Drama Obama.  This man could give James Bond lessons on composure under pressure and how to be cool.  President Barack Obama went into office with a tailwind of hope, adoring supporters, and a nation that desperately needed him to succeed.

We expected so much when the 44th President of the United States (POTUS) took the oath of office in January 2009.  But what have we gotten for all of that talk of hope and change that we can believe in?  We got change and we don’t know what to do with it.  The problem with the Obama Administration is very clear; there’s nothing wrong with President Obama or his Administration.  The problem with the Obama Administration is us.

As POTUS, Barack Obama has been making history.  He came into office when our country was mired in two unpopular foreign wars, an epic recession teetering on the brink of depression and a host of domestic issues that demanded attention after years of neglect.  Oh, and coincidentally, Barack Obama is the nation’s first Black President.

It is nothing but bizarre that polls show that a significant number of Americans don’t believe that Obama has accomplished anything since he took office.  Despite the unbelievable mess the country was in, the 44th POTUS hit the ground running.  The US is regaining some of the international respect and moral authority lost due to the Bush Doctrine and its “slasher” approach to foreign policy.  There was the passage of a stimulus package that created jobs for the present and considered what’s necessary for us to be competitive in the future.  President Obama did what Presidents from Theodore Roosevelt to Bill Clinton couldn’t – he signed health care reform legislation.  He also got Congress to send him fair pay legislation, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which he promptly signed.  He sent Congress a sweeping proposal for financial reform legislation that could protect the economy, yet encourage economic growth.  There have been several other successes, and bold moves that displayed primary concern for the country, not political high-jinks.  What’s more, all of this is being done in front of a backdrop of partisanship, racism, threats from the Oathers, the Birthers, and some aspects of the TEA Party.

The question I have is not what the problem with Obama is.  Instead, I wonder why we cannot acknowledge the commitment and effectiveness of President Obama.  I don’t agree with every choice he has made.  The war in Afghanistan is a prime example of what I believe to be a flawed policy.  Shouldn’t we fight for America, not fight about America?  Shouldn’t we value and respect our differences, not demonize each other for them?  Can’t we agree to disagree, yet support our President?  Wouldn’t it be nice if the issue was resolved with a resounding yes to all of these questions?  Unfortunately, it is not.

But I do have a theory about why the President’s accomplishments aren’t recognized, yet his perceived shortcomings are highlighted.  Most Black folks I know are raised with the awareness that when our performance is excellent by every objective and subjective measure, it will still be deemed to be merely average.  Some folks call it the “Black Tax,” and I think it is at work here. But Barack Obama is our legitimate and duly-elected president of this country; and as a result, is due the respect of the office.  There is another conversation that we will have about race, but in a future blog post.  What we can do here is to see that we all still have problems with the issues surrounding race.  But if we continue to ignore the subtle ways in which unconscious and/or institutional and structural racism are hampering us and stopping us from fully supporting our President during one of the more precarious times in American history, then the problem clearly isn’t Barack Obama – the problem is us.