Tuesday, January 8, 2008

"Hating on Obama"? I Think Not.

The African American Political Pundit is taking the position that the liberal white blogosphere is "hatin' on Obama." He writes:

Now we learn Markos Moulitsas, has joined the haters group. Yes the founder of the Daily Kos, Jerome Amstrong of MyDD, Jame Hamsher of Firedoglake and Matt Stoller of OpenLeft, are all hating on Obama.

I guess its true, as the Washington post points out, Obama's rise has sidelined left wing bloggers. And the whitosphere is pissed. Check this out, the Washington Post article notes that: Last week, Markos Moulitsas, founder of the popular liberal blog Daily Kos, accused Obama of embracing a "right-wing talking point" as he campaigned and said, "I don't want to go into the next election starting off with half the country already not wanting to vote for Democrats. We've done that in 2004, 2000." In a blog post headlined "Obama slams Gore," Moulitsas wrote: "Psst, Barack, slamming John Kerry and Al Gore is what Republicans do. Last time I checked, Gore won his election. And really, is Obama going to argue now that the nation was divided because of the Democrats' fault? Is that the latest right-wing talking point he wants to peddle?"

The Washington Post also reports: "his relationships with big-name bloggers, such as Jerome Amstrong of MyDD, Jame Hamsher of Firedoglake and Matt Stoller of OpenLeft, has been strained. "What Obama did in Iowa, getting all those young people to vote, was really inspirational. It was a miraculous achievement," Hamsher said. "But the idea that you can reach out to Republicans and they'll work with you isn't so convincing to people who have watched the Republicans in Congress. There are those who are worried that it's a false hope he's giving. . . .

PS: Lets not forget My Left Wing who says: The Irony in '08: John Edwards, White Man, Is the Best Candidate.

AAPP: Hey Afrospear (Afrosphere), the attack of the white liberal blogger has begun against Obama. Hey whiteosphere "Stop Hating."

OK, I gotta say this is totally lame. (I'm speaking as a white Southern queer woman who dropped out of the debutante scene 40 years ago and became a radical activist for civil, women's, and GLBT rights. I'm a white progressive--not a liberal--and I'm not--yet--part of the influential "whiteosphere.")

AAPP: I don't want to debate you if you are unwilling to discuss our differences from the perspective of issues and strategy. If you're going to write me off as a white "liberal" and accuse me of "hating," then I'm going to write you off as a demagogue and ignore you.

That said, what part of "he's leading off with a Rightward tilt" and "you can't appease the rabid Right" don't you understand, AAPP? And why are those charges not legitimate critiques of Obama's policy and position? You don't think that he can't legitimately be challenged, do you?

Kos gave you one example, and Jane Hampsher gave you another. Let me give you a better one still. Obama made the free-will decision to campaign in South Carolina with an out-and-out homophobe at his side. This was the deliberate use of bigotry to pimp to conservative Christian African Americans who haven't figured out that bigotry is bigotry no matter how much you "believe" it.

That's the point at which he lost me.

That's not about Black and white. If you happen to be a Queer, as I am, it's immediately clear that we ought to wonder exactly WTF Obama means when he says he wants to unify this nation. That we all count. If you don't happen to be Queer but do happen to be Black or Brown or Yellow or Red, you know you can't unify this nation if we don't all count, if you're willing to throw the most controversial among us to the wolves in order to fetch a few electoral votes. That's no different from running on Jim Crow. If all aren't free, nobody's free.

Yet that despicable appeasement was his choice. And although all the Democrats are whores on this issue, only one--Obama--has taken it so far as to campaign with a professional homophobe. That crosses the line. that he's Black makes no difference whatsoever. It suggests to me that there is a crack in his ethics that I ought not overlook. Contrasted with John Edwards, who says straight out that he has a hard time with gay marriage, Obama's position is, well, no different from Lester Maddox. I don't dig it, OK? And I don't dig sacrificing immigrants or African Americans or Queers or women or anybody else, and I am frankly infuriated when a Black Democrat does that kind of thing. Does that resonate with you as a fair attack on the issues and the campaign stragegy vis a vis the rhetoric, or does it strike you as a racist attack? If the latter, I'd certainly appreciate knowing why.

To deconstruct AAPP:

(1) Not that my opinion matters, but FWIW, I don't "hate" Obama. I like him a lot but I don't trust him. This isn't personal. It's about his campaign in SC with a professional homophobe, and it's about his promised huggy-kissyfest with the anti-constitution, anti-color, anti-woman, anti-environment, anti-regulatory, anti-truth, pro-white, pro-rich, anti-poor, and xenophobic conservative juggernaut that has pretty nearly plowed this nation. At best I can say that I hope to God that he's not showing anger openly because he's too smart, as a Black male, to think he can be openly angry and win anything but a jail term. The problem is, it's not possible to tell, and his Rightward tendencies leave me seriously in doubt about what kind of pig is in this poke. Then too, his voting record has been actually as centrist as Hillary's. This leaves me thinking that I don't have any way of knowing what he will actually do if and when he's President. It's a crap shoot. I want better information.

(2) The reason I support Edwards is because Edwards supports working America and has done so his whole adult life. I trust him, not because he's white, but because he's pissed off and running on righteous anger. I don't see the zeal to take on and take out corporate crooks on the Obama side. But to be fair, there is that anger thing. I know Obama and Hillary cannot show anger as Edwards can, because they are Black and female, respectively. Anger doesn't play well when it comes from those quarters. I also know that Obama's best bet for winning the nomination is to do exactly what he's doing now. He's channelling John Kennedy (not Bobby), and he is speaking to our best selves. The problem is that Obama is to the Right of the "white blogosphere," not that Obama is an Africa American candidate.

Now that we as a nation are grown up enough to take a Black man seriously for President in the numbers we're seeing now, surely it's time for old-school African Americans political pundits to drop the knee-jerk analysis that any criticism of any African American is based ultimately on race. When it is, it is. When it's not, it's not, and this time, it's not.

It's time for AAPP to speak to the issues, to go to his own ostensible "progressive" core and critique Obama for those things that deserve critique. He can't ask for a pass. It doesn't work to wrap Obama in Teflon and ask the rest of us to support him because he's Black. It's time for a 21st C dialog across race and ethnic lines about issues and positions.

The African American community has a lot of reason to be suspicious of white liberals. Well don't we all. Liberals weren't called "rotten rock" in the 70s for nothing. But to project blanket distrust of white liberals--never mind progressive whites--to the exclusion of giving serious thought to what they're saying, here and now, in context, about the candidates, strikes me as dated, easy, and lazy. I want to spar with people who are talking about issues, not dodge cheap shots about racism. If you have something to say that can inform me about my racism or ours, that's another matter.

But don't you dare accuse me of mere, base racism when my critique is on the substance, and on a substance that needs to see daylight among African Americans and among Anglos and Hispanics and everyone else, for that matter.


AAPP said...

Pico, I appreciate your comments. You made some interesting comments when you said, I don't want to debate you if you are unwilling to discuss our differences from the perspective of issues and strategy. If you're going to write me off as a white "liberal" and accuse me of "hating," then I'm going to write you off as a demagogue and ignore you.

AAPP says: I'm watching the New Hampshire returns. No I don't write me off as a white "liberal" and accuse you of "hating."

I will come back later on in the week to have a conversation with you about both of our post and positions.


Pico said...

African American Political Pundit:
I was just looking around your site to see how I could contact you to send you my post person-to-person. But I didn't find your Contact Me button, so I'm very happy to see that you found me I look forward to discussing this with you. Best, Pico