African-American Of Cabbages and Kings: It’s Not that Obama’s Naive; It’s Just That the President’s Not White
(Sigh) I hate to bring race into this equation. I hate even approximating a race war, but the time has come, the Walrus said, to speak of many things, of shoes and ships and sealing wax – of cabbages and kings, thus saith Lewis Carroll.
Race has always been a part of the 44th Presidency. It couldn’t help but be. After all, Barack Obama is the first African American to be elected President. John Kennedy was the first Catholic elected to that position. People spoke about how Kennedy’s devotion to Rome would impact upon his legislative agenda, but that only covered his religion. Race, like the poor, is always with society, and it stands to reason that this President’s race, whilst it certainly shouldn’t impact upon his ability to govern, is clearly a problem, overtly and covertly, with various and sundry citizens of the United States, Right and Left.
I know I’m opening a can of worms, and a lot of sites where I’d hope to post this will explode in all kinds of cockroaches crawling from the woodwork in order to gnaw at the ideas expressed herein, but – hey – better to be called a cockroach than “the dumbest motherfuckers,” which I gather a noted sage in the Progressive community reckons anyone who supports the President is.
Let’s see, one high-profile voice in the blogosphere who passes himself off as a Progressive, but who is really a Koch-funded, Citizens United-supporting, child labour-loving, Gary Johnson Libertarian, refers to supporters of the President as “Obamalovers,” in what he reckons to be a cute and clever rendition of the old Dixiecrat pejorative of “n*ggerlovers.”
A second neurotic doyenne of the Professional Left blatantly declares any vociferous supporter of the President to be a paid Breitbart troll whose sole purpose in life is to undermine the Presidency of Barack Obama. Go figure that one, especially since this same pundit went on record to say she resented African Americans even thinking that they constituted the President’s base.
To say that race matters, regarding matters to the Right of the political spectrum, is an understatement. Who doesn’t remember many of the people showing up for Sarah Palin’s campaign rallies in 2008, with their stuffed monkeys called “Little Hussain,” the elderly woman challenging McCain with her misguided fact that Candidate Obama was an Arab, the shouts and jeers, even to one man shrieking out that Obama must be killed during a Palin pow-wow. Then there was the Tea Party and their various depictions of the President as a socialist, a communist or anything frighteningly evile, but always depicted as an African chieftan or, again, a apelike creature. And let’s not get started on the Birthers.
I know all about Republican delegitimisation of the Democrats, particularly Democratic Presidents. That’s been the order of the day, presidentially, since Clinton was elected in 1992; and, yes, Clinton was particularly demonised in a way, heretofore, no Democratic President had been. That, I will admit.
Real demonisation of the Left by the Right began some 40 years ago, and was actually, unwittingly aided and abetted by the Democrats, themselves – or at least the New Age Democratic Party fronted by Gary Hart and co. The Republicans excoriated the liberal Democratic tendancy left over from Johnson’s Great Society of the Sixties, and the New Dems responded by eschewing any reference to liberals or liberalism. From thence forward, they referred to themselves as “Progressives,” and forwent any association with what they perceived to be the failed liberalism of a herd-follower like Hubert Humphrey.
Humphrey supported the Viet Nam war, and so the New Dems affected an anti-war stance on all fronts, which made it easy for the Republicans to big up the myth about the Democratic party being weak on defence and unpatriotic. Why, as the Republicans pointed out, a great many of the so-called New Democrats, were scrubbed up hippies from the Flower Movement. And the Democrats obliged there and now. Whenever someone attacks the Left, a favourite saying amongst the Professional Left pundits is that said person is “punching a hippy,” when many of these people talking like this are too young even to understand what a real hippy was, and those who are, are ex-Republicans, themselves.
A lot of these so-called Professional Left pundits have been making hay while the sun shines for the past three years, criticizing everything this President says and does. They’ve done it so much and for so long that one could be forgiven for thinking that they actually hate the man, and you have to ask why.
Well, I’ve bought just about as much of their rationale, pushed at them via talking points engendered by those well-established guardians of the Left like Arianna Huffington, who taught the dittoes to recite that Obama was a Wall Street tool, that he was a corporate whore, that he “just wasn’t that into” the Middle Class, that he was a Nowhere Man. I’ve had just about enough of their gloating when another well-established hero of the Left, Cenk Uygur, goes of an a high-handed screed, boasting about what he would tell this President to do. I’m fed up with that wannabe Alpha Male, Bill Maher, emerging from his hiding place behind the comedian’s mask to tell us how weak the President is, how bad a negotiator he is, how he has no spine, how he constantly caves to the Republicans, especially on tax cuts to the rich, when the high-minded Bill Maher, himself, cheats the State of California out of millions of dollars in property tax annually with a phoney charity registered as the owner of his properties. And I’m tired of the assumption voiced in Joan Walsh’s latest blog and wittered and twittered about by various and sundry scribes from the Progressive Left: the President, especially in these debt ceiling negotiations, is naive.
And, really, naivete has been the contents of the envelope pushed by the ueber Left since the beginning of this Administration. The President is naive about wanting bipartisan cooperation for legislation. He’s naive to want the Republicans to like him. He’s naive about Afghanistan, about Healthcare reform, about job creation, about the economy, about just about anything, simply because there are just oh-so-many experienced pundits on the Left who could just do things so differently if he’d only listen to them.
What’s frightening about that is the sheer number of those scions of the Left who, until the past decade, were card-carrying neocon Republicans.
Is there a whiff of ratfuckery about the place all of a sudden?
This naivete motif, I’m sorry to say, plays in very nicely with an image many of the Professional Left retain regarding African Americans, especially those in positions of power. It’s basically an “Affirmative Action” mentality toward them: they’ve achieved what they’ve achieved, thanks to Progressives’ efforts, so now they’d do well to listen to the advice these people have to impart to their protoges. They need help, and the ueber Left is there to give it. They’re there to tell – er, advise - the President what to do.
It’s just a typically and badly hidden genre of patronising racism, but it’s racism, all the same. And their frustrated, because the President, intelligent Negro that he is, simply won’t do as they say – because if he did, you know, things would just be that much better. Ne’mind, he’d probably have to bypass the Senate and people like Ben Nelson and Joe Manchin; ne’mind, that he’d have to pretend the Republican House didn’t exist, although it does – thanks, in a great part to all those Progressives who sat out the vote in a sulk in 2010. Hell, he can just rule as a dictator. After all, isn’t that what Bush did? Well, as one Progressive noted this week, Obama’s nothing but a black Bush, anyway.
Sometimes, the Left suffers from a psychological wardrobe dysfunction.
But it seems as if the President is too much the recalcitrant Negro for some on the Left, it seems he’s not Negro enough for other big mouths who manage to say nothing. After all, earlier this spring, no less than Cornel West excoriated the President for, amongst other things, daring to have a white mother, be educated in primarily white institutions and feel at home amongst educated, white, Jewish men. This coming from a man whose parents were educated professionals, who grew up in a predominately white community, and who has spent all his adult life amongst the leafy, white academic suburbs of Cambridge, Massachusetts and Princeton, New Jersey.
But at long last, it would seem that people in the political and pundit world are beginning, if they haven’t realised it beforehand, to, at least, find the courage to allude to the racism which belies the treatment meted this President, by both the media and the public in general.
Note Rep Sheila Jackson Lee’s pointed comment, aimed at House Republicans, about the real reason so many difficulties are being dreamed up about the passage of this year’s debt ceiliing increase:-
And just to be fair and balanced, we’ve had Lawrence O’Donnell give a masteclass on The Last Word this past week about What The President Is Really Trying to Do 101, for all those who subscribe to having the President’s words and intentions inadequately interpreted for you by no less than Adam Green of Bold Progressives, who, for the modest price of five dollars a shot requested contribution, will ensure that you stay in an appropriate state of fear at the next betrayal the perfidious President is about to enact against his natural supporters. Not that any of these people either listened to O’Donnell or paid heed to what he said, if they did; but Thursday night’s segment was particularly brilliant, in view of the scare-mongering Green is propagating regarding the sort of cuts to Medicare he envisages Obama making only in his scammy, little mind.
Watch the segment, for yourself, especially the bit beginning around the seven-minute mark:-
That’s right, in 1993, when Lawrence O’Donnell was an aide to the Senate Finance Committee, no less than Bill Clinton, pushed through the biggest cuts to Medicare and Medicaid in the history of the programs’ existence … with the complete and utter support of both a Democratic Senate and a Democratic House. No single liberal opposed these cuts. Not Ted Kennedy who was then in the Senate. Not Bernie Sanders, who was then a Congressman from Vermont. This was Bill Clinton Pre-Triangulation, before Newt got control of the Hill. This was Bill Clinton in liberal mode.
As O’Donnell asks rhetorically, where were all the voices shouting betrayal then? Instead, now, we don’t even get a definite word from the President about any sort of cuts to Medicare; instead we get a deliberately concocted and misleading headline by Sam Stein, arguably the laziest and most inept reporter covering anything Presidential, and all hell breaks loose – so much so, that when the President states categorically that wealthier people should pay more into their Medicare program and the ueber Left erupts, they’re opposing exactly what they berated the President for not doing in November: raising taxes on the wealthier elements of society.
And, of course, the unspoken question of why people are doing this from the Left to the President, is left, appropriately, dangling, by O’Donnell.
I am not alone in thinking that this is the first time in my life when I’ve seen a President so derided by both sides of the political equation. Not even Nixon, who was revealed to be crooked and dishonest, was so reviled. And whilst Clinton was certainly delegitimised in the worst way, first for supposed criminal activity, and subsequently for a sexual peccadillo, this was done entirely by his political opponents in the Republican Party.
Delegitimising a Democratic President is par for the course for the Republican Party, even the lunatic asylum which is masquerading as such right now; but unrelenting criticism of a President by those on his side of the spectrum is not only stupid, it’s divisive as hell, and projects the party as being weak and as much out of control as the Teabaggers on the Right.
The latest fly in the ointment with which the Progressives hope to smear the President came in the leak about Elizabeth Warren not getting promoted as head of the newly-formed Consumer Financial Protection Bureau. Late last night on Twitter, that noted political pundit Katrina vanden Heuvel, child of privilege who pays lip service to the poor and who’s fashioned a career for herself as a political sage without any iota of political experience or acumen, was working herself into a lather trying to find someone who knew “something” (presumably, something bad) about the man rumoured to be the President’s choice – like, was he a Wall Street or an international banking tool?
Of course, this is the same Katrina vanden Heuvel, who last year predicted that Nick Clegg would emerge triumphant from the British General Election as Prime Minister, because he’d been an intern on The Nation. (Nick Clegg is now the vilified as the most odious political opportunist in Britain and a true betrayer of his party). And this was the same Katrina vanden Heuvel who trolled the lengths and breadths of MSNBC during the campaign of 2000, telling all and sundry that a vote for Al Gore was a vote for George Bush, and real Progressives wanted Ralph Nader to succeed.
That theory all worked out so well, didn’t it?
And of course, that was the same Ralph Nader, who, on election day 2008 and several times publically thereafter, has taken perverse pleasure in referring to the 44th President of the United States as a “Tom.”