Full disclosure: in recent months, since a little before the Pennsylvania primary, I've become one of the loyal viewers helping MSNBC's Countdown With Keith Olberman trounce Fox News in the ratings.
The angle (as a former journalism prof I'll reserve judgment on calling it a slant) from this segment from last night is one reason why.
Lookout for the money quote, at about 3:34 into the piece:
Is that what this is? It's not that the Republicans want you to be afraid of Barack and Michelle Obama because the might be terrorists, but because they might be black.
What grabbed me was this: the incipient Obama backlash, casting about for a cover story for racial resentment, may be "shocked, shocked" to report that American pop culture has decidedly browned all of a sudden, and that Obama and his wife may be adepts.
Where were they when Budweiser made the world safe for average white guys (like the ones putatively still torching for Hillary Clinton) showing each other love with an ostentatious "whasssuuuup" in public places?
(Better yet, where were they when my book on this new reality, American Skin, hit the stores in 2002?)
I'm not going to dwell on this here. But it's hilarious watching Obama totally confuse the incumbent political zeitgeist—especially as reflected on Fox—just by being who he is. But it is also funny, in a sad way, to see how willfully some folks want to cling to ignorance of the truth about who we have become in the last 20 years, and who indeed we have always been.
Sorry, but if I hear one more pol apply the band-aid "outstanding" to some aspect of Hillary Clinton's character, worth as a political asset or Senator from New York, I'm gonna hurl.
And if one more Democrat insists that none of her 18 million votes (does anybody remember how many votes John Kerry got?) were about race and against Barack Obama, it'll be the Democratic party that's sick.
To move on, consider this: since the season began, there's been a huge, false parallel drawn between the 'historic' Clinton and Obama runs. Why? Hard core Hillary feminists and sympathizers—I'll be fair and call them the majority of her vote—are in it to see the first female president. They want a perhaps long overdue triumph for her gender. They are not fired up about seeing the very nature of womanhood turned inside out and judged to be false on its face as she gains the White House.
Let me be ridiculous to make a sublime point: Hillary is not running as a proud hermaphrodite. Not that she's ashamed, she just happens to be all woman--as far as I know : )
Meanwhile, as maybe even Bill Clinton finally understands, an Obama presidency will not be like Jesse Jackson winning the White House. And it's not just because his Mama was white, or that his Daddy (as far as I know) has no heritage of slavery.
Take a good look at the amazing picture of Obama on his Granddad's shoulder. Stare a minute at the face of Kansas in Africa. Then multiply by 400 years of American historical denial of the truth of who we really are: a new, miscegenated nation, brought forth on the proposition that —despite the slavery at our founding—all men are created equal.
No, they weren't thinking about women at the founding either. But they didn't get busy making male-female hybrids. And they didn't subsequently declare an equivalent of a "one drop rule" for determining a female race.
So, Hil people, I'm sorry, but get this grip: the war, for now, is over. Not the battles for delegates, but the war of black vs. female identity politics that it seemed to be all about for many of you. Because Obama has not come to vindicate the black race, but to destroy the false dichotomy of black and white.
No wonder Bill wanted to make it about the second coming of Jesse Jackson. After Obama, Bill's honorific as the first 'black' president is already meaningless. Not because Obama is actually black, but because black as we have known it now becomes something to wonder if we ever really knew.
Because, as that picture on the beach shows, it never had any meaning in the first place. Americica will finally look itself in the mirror in that picture and every time it looks at a President Obama.
I pity the fools who thought it was about female versus black. It was about one female versus race itself.
I was watching Hillary Clinton supporter Rep. Gregory Meeks, a black Democrat from Queens, NY on MSNBC, after Barack Obama became the first African-American nominee for president of the United States.
It was right before Hillary might have been expected to make something like a concession speech. Or not, as it would turn out.
Meeks went on and on with the Hillary talking points as if it was the night of the Pennsylvania primary. Well, ok, so the brother is loyal. But at the end, Chris Matthews asked him to respond, as a black man, to what both Matthews and the venerable Tom Brokaw declared not just an American history moment, but a moment of global impact.
That was the context of Chris Matthews question. It was like after the Superbowl and Meeks was a member of the winning team.
Hey Gregory, one of your own just shocked the world more than even Muhammad Ali--whaddaya say?
But all Meeks could come up with was that he was proud, and that Obama had a great story to tell. His quote:
"Not just an African-American story, but an authentic American story."
Those were the words of Meeks' brief, not especially effusive answer. But the between the lines, to my ears, was:
"yeah, he's got a great story, and I wish him well. But it's not my story."
Later I watched Hillary's not quite concession speech in New York, and her bear-hug embraces by several black (....well retainers is a hard word....) allies, including Rep. Stephanie Tubbs Jones, Rev. Calvin Butts, NY Governor David Patterson and Washington emince gris Vernon Jordan.
I really worry about what's about to go down now that Hillary, ostensibly, has. I have to assume they don't share Obama's story either. Which makes me wonder : are they really more comfortable with Bill Clinton's blackness than Obama's?
Or was the prospect of spoils from a Hillary Clinton presidency just too great a power fantasy to surrender to reality?