February 10, 2007

Where is the Love?

Obama declares he's running for president - CNN.com

Obama declares his run is on and an already crowded presidential contender field gets a little bigger. I'm waiting with bated breath to see what kind of contortions the black establishment goes into to justify what I suspect will be their effectively no support for Obama's run. Because from where I'm sitting right now, Barack is not getting the love. He is a democrat. He is politically liberal, he is anti Iraq war, he is pro choice, he is married and super smart. He has every positive personal aspect Jesse had for his run and lacks many of Jesse's negatives. But I'm not feeling the love coming from the Black Caucus, from the NAACP, from Tavis Smiley (who said at a recent fund raiser for public television in Indianapolis that he thought Barack was guilty of believing the hype and had not paid his dues with the black community) or any other part of the black political establishment.

It smells like a political sellout. Because if the black establishment is not backing Obama, where else are they going to go? The only other conceivable democratic beneficiary of their support is Hillary Clinton. Barack is certainly as qualified as Hillary to run. But I'm beginning to suspect that the black establishment political interests may be bound up with the Clinton political machine. The Clintons are a formidable money raising magnet. Bill, for all his negatives, is still popular and has been a formidable campaigner for black democrats. He's got a lot of IOU's I suspect. They are skilled political tacticians and I have no doubt they will be ruthless in fighting the battle to secure the democratic nod.

The early skin in this game on the part of the black establishment may be this whole discussion about Obama's "blackness" thats been taking place. The argument set forth is that Obama is not black enough because he is not a descendant of slaves, but rather of more recent immigrant stock. He doesn't really have a "black" sensibility. Its a stupid argument I wholly reject. Ripapma, a poster at Booker Rising, has phrased the counter to this argument very well; "Ain’t Black enough" is a term used by "race hustlers" to demean individual success, achievement and virtue in favor of an ideology that promotes victimhood, accepts the status quo, and elevates mediocrity. They provide no reliable or repeatable criteria for who is and who isn't Black enough. The "race hustlers" think for you, speak for you, and act for you, but only if you're Black enough, or the right kind of Black."

Now, I'm not hearing the black establishment say he is not really black, no no, they are speaking in code. The code phrase is "black americans don't know who Barack is" or "he has not paid his dues with black america". I even heard some commentators suggesting that he needs to have Jesse Jackson take him and introduce him to black america. Get real.

Maybe whats going on is not really some silliness about whether he is black enough. Maybe its just plain jealousy and avarice at play here. On the jealousy side, for a variety of reasons, Obama has captured America's attention, white and black. So much so, that he has been able to put himself in the running for the White House. No other black democrat of the last 20 years has been able to ascend to this point. Maybe they are mad. Maybe they feel like "he just got here, he should get in line and put in work just like the rest of us".

On the avarice side, for the black establishment.there is no percentage in backing Obama's run. He hasn't been on the national stage long enough to have a lot of chips to cash in or favors to call. Its still way early to know how things will shake out, but at this point you do have to regard him as a longshot to win. A credible longshot, but a longshot nonetheless. Hillary has it over the rest of the field in political capital and you can bet she will spend it. The black establishment will want to be in on that largess. They will have to make a strategic choice.

A credible black democratic candidate has materialized. I may be off the mark, but I think we are about to witness the selling out of Obama in favor of Hillary.