The pandering at Howard
I had occasion to watch last night's Democratic debate aimed specifically at African-American voters moderated by PBS commentator Tavis Smiley
and hosted at Howard University
in Washington. I came away with very real and specific impressions, but I was also struggling with how best to word them so that people understand what I mean. I came to the conclusion that the best way to explain myself is to be direct.
This was Obama's night-there was no real winner because (let's face reality) the majority of that audience was comprised of liberal black intellectuals, Al Sharpton
, and a few other self-appointed "leaders" like Sharpton. The liberal intellectuals will vote for Obama
because he is a liberal intellectual, the others in that audience will vote for Obama because Sharpton and Jackson
tell them to. I do not think that what I saw represented a majority of African Americans, but I do think that the two candidates who appeared the most sincere were Obama (an African American), and former Alaska Senator Mike Gravel
, who was unafraid to tell it like he saw it, and didn't seem to care that it got him booed (tact is not the drug legalizer's strong point, I will say that).
As for the rest of the candidates, the entire business sounded like a disgusting exercise in cheap political pandering. Some readers may say "Oatney, you don't understand, you aren't black." I do have a physical disability that has, throughout my life, caused the whole world to look at me differently. It has affected everything from going to school to getting a job, and it certainly (before I was blessed enough to meet my wife) affected how the opposite sex viewed me. I can make the argument more clearly than many others that I understand discrimination, since I have personally experienced it. I do not use that reality as a means to whine, moan, complain, or try and score cheap political points. What I saw via PBS at Howard last night was a panderers' festival (or a panhandlers' meeting, depending on how you look at it), and if I were
an African American, I wouldn't just be upset at that, I would be pissed off
, that would feel very demeaning to me.
Hillary was the worst for playing the pandering game, and you could tell by the way she immediately addressed the Supreme Court
ruling in Parents Involved in Community Schools v. Seattle School District
. In addressing this, she began to sound entirely too much like Bill, who as Panderer-in-Chief had the unmitigated gall to insist that he was the first black president. Dennis Kucinich
sounded as though he had taken a happy pill, and might as well just have said "I don't have a snowball's chance in Hell, but this sure is fun Tavis!" As much as John Edwards
strikes me as a genuinely good person aside from his politics, he was pandering so much that I was waiting on someone to strike up the piano so Edwards could lead in a sing-along of We Shall Overcome.
The whole atmosphere just reeked of "we don't want to be here but we have to be," and if neither Tavis Smiley nor the audience figured that out, than the Democratic field is filled with people who are better actors on stage than on television. Of course, it didn't help me shed that impression that Joe Biden
(fresh from informing the world that Barack Obama is the first clean, articulate black person
) acted like a complete horse's rear.
The whole spectacle reminded me of Tommy Thompson
's famous line: "Isn't is great to be a Republican!"
Labels: Presidential Election