Obama My Brother the President, Again!

“Lifting as We Climb” the mantra and credo which was coined by National Association of Colored Women, NACW, and which guided Ms. Ida B Wells and her African American women contemporaries, is my preferred worldview.

But is President Obama doing the opposite for continental Africans and peoples of African descent? Or, is it just me, who is splitting hairs, too particular and overanalyzing our brother president? I took strong exceptions to our president’s speeches in July, 2009 speeches which I surmised were lopsided in comparison with his stated willingness to have unconditional polite, diplomatic and productive conversations with, even, “known-enemies” of America and members of President Bush’s Axis of Evil!

President Obama’s White House declaratively announced the other day, that the vitriolic stridency of his unreasoned attackers were not motivated by the fact that President Obama is biracial and so, the White House effectively, “pretended” to be capable of debunking the palpable racism his attackers who claim to care for America more than Obama and the rest of us. President Obama cannot be faulted for wanting to appear presidential, above the fray and thereby occupy the moral high ground, as president of all Americans. But the reaction from the White House cannot fool President Carter, President Bill Clinton and many others who sees Obama’s vociferous and conceptually violent attackers, for what they are, racists!

President Carter and President Clinton see, understands what the rest of us already called out, what we are seeing in the matters of race. No one can call President Carter and President Clinton, are the racial racketeers. They have been president of the United States and they are experienced and older than President Obama who continues to insist on the absence of racism in America. President Obama is understandably conciliatory in the face of virulent attacks by those whose belligerence, were motivated by the color of their skins!

Race remains a major factor in how life is lived in the United States, sadly and unfortunately, race remains so, a factor, worldwide. This can be readily observed. Let me be clear, race remains how life is lived in America and the entire the world. It affects trade-commerce, diplomacy, foreign aid, possession of nuclear weapons and all other facets of life, both strategic and even the mundane. Race remains a factor, and as you can clearly see, it is almost irrelevant whether you are a professor at Harvard University, such as Professor Louis Gates or whether you are even Harvard Law educated and president of the United States! President Jimmy Carter and President Bill Jefferson Clinton agree with these assessments.

Therefore, it is clearly and assuredly, up to our brother President Obama, whether he is willing to stake his political laurels or political capital to redress this. Such as he attempted with the Beer with Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley, and before that, such as he did with his major speech on race during the elections in November 2008 which saw Obama elected as president of the United States. It will be recalled that, that fateful speech on race was received well and applauded by all. There is choice here. A choice to become precise or clear about race, even if there are known associated costs or Obama can maintain “strategic ambiguity”, apologies to Israel’s famous nuclear weapons unstated non-policy. The act of saying “no”, “yes” and “nothing” simultaneously! This has worked well for Israel, and for decades.

President Obama can, chose to remain aloof, color-blind in the alternate or parallel universe of “post-racial” America, with an eye on re-election for a second term. If past is prologue, what happened to Mayor David N. Dinkins in New York City, would happen to President Obama regarding re-election for a second term. Mayor Dinkins was too polite and deferred to the “owners’ of the land. Mayor Dinkins assiduously worked harder than most, in order not to ruffle feathers. He was and still is, a superb gentleman and consummate peace maker. He tried to please ever of his opponents. He did not want to squander his political capital (deft-calculating-naïve)? He did not get re-elected. Mr. Dinkins is a mathematician, a lawyer, a US Marine and an extraordinarily experienced, exquisitely equipped New York City politician, no matter; all these did not help in Mayor Dinkins’ re-election bid.

President Obama and the Democratic Party are understandably under tremendous pressure, to win elections this November 2009 and the midterm elections next year. Immediately, Democrats have to win elections in a few states this November 2009 in states such as Virginia, New Jersey and New York respectively and in all these states, despite, and perhaps, in-spite of President Obama, these elections are unusually close. President Obama even though very popular in January 2009, making everybody believe that a cat could win elections on his coattails, is having right now to sorts of, prove his mettle, with winnings in governorship races this November and next.

The Democrats and the president, keenly aware of all these, are quietly nervous or even in panic! What else could explain that unnecessary gaffes and goofs have followed presidential seal on these matters? President Obama came to the state of New York’s neighboring state of New Jersey, to campaign and fundraiser for Governor Jon Corzine for a second term. Governor Corzine had been lagging in the polls, in a state that was solidly in Obama’s corner only in November 2008. A factor in this was the arrest and subsequent resignations of several public officials or functionaries of state of New Jersey government, some accused of corruption, while others were in egregiously heinous activities such as sale and or trafficking in human body parts! There were swirls of repercussions and endless controversies, negative publicity which were no favors to the Democrats, particularly the poor Governor Corzine who had to delicately handle these unsavory and underserved baggage or political liabilities!

Regardless of all these and their possible ramifications, President Obama jetted to New Jersey through New York, to effusively demonstrate his support for a fellow Democrat and party man, Governor Corzine, who, for mostly not fault of his, is contending with a poor economy, high rate of unemployment in a depressed economy, and worse, the controversies of booming criminal enterprise by some New Jersey politicians in the same party as Corzine! President apprised and abreast of all these, determined that showing support publicly for Corzine was worth the political capital invested or squandered in the process. Fine!

Governor Elliot Spitzer was a brilliant politico with all the savvy anyone could ask of him. He is, in my view, a public official with extraordinary foresight. He is a public policy juggernaut. He is a visionary. He saw corporate frauds in America from 10,000 miles away! He literarily saw that the economic meltdown which we are now enmeshed, years before it was foisted upon all of us. He saw it coming and told us, of the danger of corporate wrongdoings. But he had a moral slip and he fell from political power and the lieutenant governor or deputy, who Governor Spitzer wisely chose, now became the defacto Governor David Patterson of the great state of New York. Governor Patterson is a lawyer, with great personal story and antecedents, he also lives with impaired vision; he is, legally blind or with disability.

Governor Patterson is a person of African descent. He is the first African American to be governor of our great state. Even though he was not directly elected, his political ascension to the governorship of national epochal importance. I will have to assume that President Obama agrees with these assessments? At this moment, there is high rate of unemployment in New York City and state of New York; after all, everyone knows that New York is the financial capital of the United States and the entire world. New York City and

state of New York is understandably hardest hit with the after effect of the debacles on Wall Street and the entire financial district of the metropolis. The economic contraction and deep recession is rather obvious even to the most oblivious of things. No one has to be a financial market guru to understand this. Translation of this is that political leaders are catching the ire of the public for what are essentially beyond their control and for which they were not responsible in inflicting on any of us. Then added to all these, is the fact of Governor Patterson’s race and disability etc.

I am appalled by President Obama’s apparent usurpation of Governor Patterson.
I thought President Obama conduct was not presidential. He sought openly to undermine Governor Patterson… Obama is heeding bad counsel regarding our governor… and Obama campaigned for Governor Corzine of New Jersey recently… Governor Patterson still has more than a year ahead to turn the polls around… and even if he does not, it is not Obama duty schedule to nail Patterson’s coffin with his presidential hammer of disapproval! I am straining to make this point again and again, but, most seem not to discern these concerns. Why would our brilliantly incandescent and savvy brother president allow himself to be associated with idea of kicking a guy who is already down? What common good or greater good does such public humiliation of Governor Patterson serve? There is this incredible public pressure on Governor Patterson. There seem to be a concerted attempt to hijack the forthcoming gubernatorial elections in the state of New York, from New Yorkers, the electorate, whose say is paramount in all of these. Governor Patterson and we New Yorkers deserve better, whatever the “savvy” calculations are or maybe, in the eyes of Washington!

There are as many as 15 months between now and the gubernatorial elections in the state of New York. And as even, every political neophyte knows, 15 months is more than two lifetimes in politics. in effect, an eternity remains, and so much can change in favor of Governor Patterson during this large expanse of breathing space, span and gestation period and time. Again, Mr. Obama is not dumb by any measure, so, this is cold calculations on his part or on the parts of his counselors? But should our brother president not “just-know” these things? He should or ought to know Governor Patterson’s burdens and carefully weigh and consider them. President Obama dropped the ball, for appearing to lead the chorus of those who are too quick to write off Governor Patterson’s re-election chances. Elections in New York are about 15 months away, and besides, President Obama did not even have to do anything now or appear to endorse anyone now. Neutrality, may have served Obama well at this juncture and in this instance. Instead of this apparent double standards in the treatment of New York’s Patterson and Corzine’s New Jersey. Or the focus is just Chris Christie, the Republican Party candidate, which explains to rescue efforts for Corzine?

There are certainly those, who think and act as though Governor Patterson does not belong on the governor’s seat in Albany, and as a consequence, have sought to blame the governor for rainfall, snow fall and high humidity levels since he assumed office after Mr. Spitzer’s fall. There are others who are “dying” to occupy that same seat, but, let the time come and let the best win. No one should preempt a fair fight! And even if everyone did, it should not be our biracial brother president and no reason is good enough to humiliate Governor Patterson or seek to deny him his due, than drive him out of town! The state of New York electoral has the final say regarding which among our politicians is expendable. Voters in New York must not allow the skittish expediencies of others determine our fates!

Governor Patterson of the state of New York just like his counterpart, Governor Corzine of the state of New Jersey are unpopular, not by a dint of any infractions on their parts, but, the happenstances and vagaries of the economy of America and the entire world, as it is, currently. Some politicians, Democrats in Governor Corzine’s New Jersey, though no faults of Corzine, engaged in scandalous and criminal enterprise. Yet, Mr. Obama thoughtfully resolved to spend-squander his political fortunes in attempt to rescue Mr. Corzine! Governor Patterson’s Democrats in New York are not embroiled in scandalous criminal misconduct similar to what now obtains in New Jersey, the new Chicago mafia politics practitioners of the Northeast! And yet, Governor Patterson is the one being shunned and denied public support by our brother president?

After careful consideration of all the above, it is easy to see, why it is so easy to be an unpopular governor in New York and New Jersey and pretty much in any state in the United States right about now! Why then, did President Obama give Corzine public embrace, fundraiser and ringing endorsements and not so for Patterson? Governor Patterson is a trailblazer like Obama Patterson is in fact more so, in more ways than one! African American governor, an American with disability, who is the first to hold a statewide office in our state of 18 million outstanding citizens, who should be allowed and given a fair chance to decide Patterson’s fate, in a fair manner, not through a stampede by anyone in our state, or carpetbaggers from the Washington D.C.!

In view of what have transpired so far, and more precisely, despite what have transpired it is befittingly charitable on our parts, to still as a matter of sheer indulgence, to think that President Obama could not and cannot mean to humiliate Governor Patterson publicly. President Obama could not and cannot mean to undermine Governor Patterson and Patterson’s chances of re-election in November 2010? But some shenanigans have leaked out, some public demeanors stated and unstated, have led some, including even some notable Republican Party members such as former state of New York Governor George Pataki, to admonish all those, who are bent on dictating to us, free citizens of the great state of New York, who among the numerous would be contenders in November 2010, could be our governor!

As I muse over the election prospects of Governor Patterson, I am having, to wonder aloud, whether President Obama is demonstrating a pattern? In many of his actions and public pronouncements so far, particularly, during the preceding nine months, our brother president, have seemingly reserved harsh and rather hostile treatments for continental Africans and peoples of African descent. Obama’s published statements in Accra Ghana in an address to the parliament there and his speech to NAACP in New York City, both speeches given in July 2009, and as well as President Obama’s attitude toward Governor Paterson, point to an unsettling pattern of beating-down persons from what Obama ought see as his core constituency. Even Republicans such as state of New York former Governor George Pataki have had to describe Obama’s seeming rejection of Governor Patterson as candidate for governor, this way “I just think it’s wrong,” Pataki said. “To weaken and undermine the governor beyond the weakness that already exists … to me just doesn’t serve the interests of the state, doesn’t serve the interests of our country.”

Many tongues are wagging over Obama’s public non-embrace of Governor Patterson. Some opponents of Governor Patterson are said to be gloating giddily now, in satisfaction and complacence, as a direction consequence of their interpretation of Obama’s signal or repudiation of Patterson’s gubernatorial candidacy in 2010. How soon can Obama seem to forget his own candidature, dismissed routinely and offhand by those who thought the then first term US senator from Illinois a nonstarter and a would be also ran? How soon can Obama forget that he too inherited three wars, one in Afghanistan, another war in Iraq, and the third one, being the catastrophic and mammoth mess, which is also known as the domestic economic meltdown i

n America and globally? The state of New York and New York City, are the fulcrum of America as the financial capital of the world, and Governor Patterson has therefore, taken a direct hit, from the economic cataclysm and seismic shift, none the fault of Governor Patterson!

President Obama is personally and intimately aware of the challenges our people particularly face. He is also aware of the challenges facing America and the state of New York in particular. It is therefore disingenuous to ascribe current abysmal and dismal economic atmosphere to Obama and or Patterson. Neither Obama nor Patterson is responsible for our national and state economic conditions. President Obama is not president for Africans and peoples of African descent alone, that much I understand. But it is and will be unacceptable for continental Africans and peoples of African descent to possibly fare worse during President Obama’s watch! We will prefer Obama’s impact on our people to be positive symbolism, and even beyond symbolism. President Obama should consciously engage in “Lifting Our People As He Climbs”! in words and actions.

2 thoughts on “Obama My Brother the President, Again!

  • @Paul, I think Obama is a man who understands the importance of picking one’s battles carefully. All issues relating to race and racism will always remain as long as our physical characteristics differ. After all, isn’t racism a form of prejudice? Who amongst us has never held a preconceived notion of another?

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  • Paul: I know you as a passionate writer, and I know you would prefer for President Obama to come out more forcely on race and racism. Believe it, President Obama is not color-blind. The President knows his roots. As the President, he does not need the distraction, and that is the distraction the opposition would love. This is the area his surrogates have to get involved, and former Presidents Carter and Clinton played that role very well. Rep. James E. Clyburn (D, SC) is playing that role as well.

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