Thursday, January 18, 2007


So yesterday I promised to write a little about Obama. This quote was taken from an AP interview last year in regard to the African-American reaction to his possible (now certain) presidential bid.

“It’s interesting that the people who are most hesitant about this oftentimes are African-Americans because they feel protective of me. They’re either concerned about the attacks I’d be subjected to or they are skeptical oftentimes that America is prepared to elect a black president.”

I am not sure if this is one of those things that is funny cause it’s true or sad cause it’s true. Maybe some of both. I have been a fan of Obama for years. Probably because I live in Chicago. Until rather recently he wasn’t known outside this area. That speech at the 2004 DNC really took him to a new level. He has made a name for himself with his charismatic oration, humility (in an interview with John Stewart he admitted the only person more over hyped than himself was Stewart), and a flair for comedy but is it enough? Would I like to see him as our president? Certainly. Will it be a hard road? Without a doubt. Is it a road that can end in victory? I’m not sure but I would like to hope so.

I liked how he said that African-Americans are protective of him, it’s a rather eloquent way of saying black folks don’t want to see another of their leaders killed. Yes, I know it is 2007. One would hope that his assassination wouldn’t be something we would have to fear. Obviously, I’m not the only one whose mind it has crossed. We’re talking about a man who has prided himself in the past on not traveling with a huge entourage and who will need to seriously change that practice immediately. We’re talking about a man who enjoys being accessible and that accessibility is part of his charm. Of course people are protective of him. We see someone who, although he doesn’t have tons of experience in National Politics, has experience living abroad, learning at a Muslim institution, and obviously as a Black man in America. To me, he looks like someone who could bring a lot of unity and credibility to a country that has lost many friends in the last many years. As Obama said in regard to Cheney and Rumsfeld, “[they] had the best resumes on paper of any foreign policy team, and the result has been what I consider to be one of the biggest foreign policy mistakes in our history.” He is right. It makes only too much sense to elect someone who has an entirely fresh look on things to the presidency.

Now, the second point. Is America ready to elect an African-American president? Honestly, I don’t know. If the Electoral College were dismantled it would certainly help his chances. Back at Rachel’s Tavern a more detailed description is given but essentially since no state is majority Black their votes only truly count if they vote with enough white people to equal a majority. In the red southern states, how often does that happen? Therefore, how often does the southern Black vote truly count (obviously this goes for other minority groups as well and while race doesn't always equal voting preference it obviously matters some)? It’s institutionalized racism at its best. I kind of digress; the real question is do I think America is open enough to elect a Black man to our highest office? Sadly, I kind of doubt it. Many people will disagree with me, and I truly hope that I am proven wrong. I just think there are enough fake liberals out there who wouldn’t truly feel secure with Obama at the helm simply because of his race. Or maybe, those same people would be too ashamed at their deep down prejudices that they’ll vote for him. Or maybe, people will actually listen to his politics and vote for him (but we all know that isn’t so likely).

We then come to another issue, his name. I don’t have to tell anyone (or I hope I don’t) how many times this man has been called Osama. CNN, Rush Limbaugh, Ted Kennedy, Yahoo news, and I’m sure there are others have been guilty. It doesn’t matter if it was a slip of the tongue or intentional, people operate on associations all the time. I think the picture of Osama Bin Laden on CNN with the caption Where’s Obama?” was my favorite. The man’s middle name also happens to be Hussein. I hear his full name mentioned often. I don’t hear many other politicians full names mentioned often. It’s just another little thing to put in the back of people’s minds. Wait, isn’t that guy named Hussein Osama? Doesn’t that sound suspect to you? I can’t vote a Hussein Osama into office. Here I am contributing to the madness. Maybe I should delete this paragraph to limit the false associations? I won’t because I think it is relevant to my point. Obama has a lot of obstacles to overcome.

Do I think it is possible that he will be our next president? Yes. Do I think it is likely, I don’t know. At this point I don’t even know if it is likely that he’ll win the nomination. Again, I hope. Best of luck to him. Let's turn to the music.

Good Guys Don’t Wear White, Minor Threat- I guess this song kind of makes sense given the topic of the post. You can’t judge a person by the clothes they wear or whose name theirs rhymes with.

I Held Her In My Arms, Violent Femmes- Man I used to be all about the Violent Femmes. Once I went to see them in concert. I have no idea who I went with. It was a really good concert. I think it was in college. I think it was with a strange group of people that I didn’t stay friends with very long.

Naked and Famous, The Presidents of The United States of America- These guys are so awful that they are just fantastic. They are so incredibly mid-late ‘90s. There is nothing else to say about them. I do really like a few of their songs though; Dune Buggy and Body are just fantastic. Actually, I like this whole album, sort of. I am ashamed and want to die.


Brooke said...

I was at that Violent Femmes concert, Friend. We were with a prety random crew - that goth contingent we hung out with for a minute.

I think Obama has a better chance than Hillary Clinton. A female president is never gonna fly if we're at war, and I'm sure the Iraq situation will still be a mess. I like Obama a whole lot better than Clinton, though, so that's fine with me.

Anne said...

As American history and politics is inextricably linked to that of the Philippines’, I have been observing it over the years. I would like to think things have changed and imagine Obama has the best chance at beating a Republican contender. But then I’ve lived long enough to know that politics as we know in this day and age then sets in -- he has to beat Hillary in the primaries something I fear she may have in her backpockets already.

I share your concern for the deep-seated prejudices, too many people fear change when they should embrace it, and can’t look past one’s color of skin.

BUT then again, sometimes,in a moment of grace, great leaders emerge fresh from a critical point in history -- all the hurdles notwithstanding, and the events that unfold have us all in awe...therefore I hold out hope.

Natalie said...

Friend- Man do I ever feel like a bad bad bad bad bad friend. At least I remembered it was fun. I should have just assumed you were there.

Anne- The thing with HIllary is that no one I know REALLY likes her a lot. A lot of people REALLY like Obama. You never know though. Not to mention a lot could happen between now and then. I wish I had a better handle on international politics. I guess I am subject to the uninformed disease that is the American mind. I try sometimes but, not so good. I'm holding out hope too.

Eve said...

Hmm, I'm definitely interested to see what happens in the U.S.'s political future. I am definitely going to vote this coming election (and in the primaries too).

I need to learn more about the policies of the contenders.

(And Hilary is NOT well liked in NY.)

ShadowFalcon said...

I shocked that America hasn't had a Black president or a female president yet.

I think you should run, If i was american I'd vote for you!

RastaManErn said...

No offense to anyone in particular, but I think that if Obama became a presidential candidate, the "good ole' boys" from every neck of the woods would come out to vote against him. Same thing with Hilary, too, but mainly just because she's a woman. And because of some perverse logic in the minds of conservatives, she would surprisingly get fewer female voters than male voters, plus she's guilty by association (e.g. her husband).

I could see the black vote for Obama torn between those who think that he's amicable and capable, vs. those who think that he's pandering to whites. Then, of course, the "liberal" media is going to do a number on him: The Osama-Hussein thing, past drug use, and any other trivial thing they can come up with.

Then again... I really, really, really hope I'm wrong.

Wobbly*Bits said...

Wahhh, I just posted a really long comment and it got lost. I suck.

Short story: My naive-always-want-to-believe-the-best-of-people opinion is that MOST of the country is ready for a black president and by 2007 can get past all the BS that might have deterred us in the past. However, it doesn't matter how small or large the group is that's not ready if they believe it strongly enough.

It'll be great if there's a day when this is totally not an issue. I intend to vote for Obama if at the end of it all he has proven to be the best candidate. I think voting for someone simply because they are black or a woman or the most attractive is as ineffective as not voting for someone because of those things.

Brooke said...

Wobblybits, I personally agree with you. But, man, you're exactly right Monica's cousin. That's probably how things will go down. And Eve, it is true that Hillary is not well liked in NY, but what does that matter? I've never voted in a primary here. It only matters if you're from Iowa or New Hampshire, which is even more fucked up than the electoral college. Grr.

Natalie said...

Eve- As much as Hillary is pushed I just don't see too many real people caring so I don't know if she'll really make it.

Shadow- I would make the worst black female president ever (wait there is Condi) but thanks for your support. As progressive as America likes to think it is, it isn't. That's why we haven't had a minority or female president.

Ern- I am with every single thing you said and I also hope we are wrong.

Wobbly- I agree that you have to vote for the best candidate no matter what. It really is too early to get any good speculation going. I hope your optimistic attitude is truer than my pessimistic one, I really do.

Brooke- What is so special about Iowa and New Hampshire anyway? In Iowa they have a lot of corn and give their children strange names and New Hampshire…do they even have anything there?

Oh, The Joys said...

I would vote for him.

I will vote for him.

I loved this post.

sexy said...