I’m watching Real Time with Bill Maher. I just got annoyed with Michael Moore (whose films I enjoy) because he said about Obama, “With all due respect, it’s time to take off the pink tutu.” Really? Are we still talking about political power in terms of who has a vagina and who doesn’t? Who is a pussy and who isn’t? FAIL.
Then Michael Moore proceeds to annoy me further by talking about how Obama isn’t doing enough: “He has the power to do so many things without Congress, and he should use that power for the next two years. He has regulatory power; he can issue edicts and orders…” Really? Isn’t that why you hated Dubya?
And then Bill Maher interrupts and says something that literally made me choke on my cheesy toast:
“And you know why it’s so disappointing, I thought when we elected a black president, I thought two years in, I would be making jokes about “What a bad ass gangsta he was…”
DO YOU SEE? THIS IS WHAT I’M TALKING ABOUT!
A couple weeks ago, I stated that black men don’t have the luxury to get “mad as hell.” People got mad as hell at me. Called me the usual: Obot, weak, zombie defender; someone may have told me to fuck off. Who can remember? Those were heady times.
But honestly, y’all. This is what I’m talking about. I like Bill Maher. I like Michael Moore. But at a base level, I don’t think they get it. And, I don’t want to “play the race card.” I don’t want to throw out the standard, “It’s a black thing,” because I know it drives white folks crazy. When my father and I are talking about something… anything… and my mom asks what we’re talking about, my dad will say “It’s a black thing. You wouldn’t understand.” And then he’ll grin at me. He thinks it’s hilarious (and he doesn’t know that phrase is sooooo 1990.) But he gets the reaction he wants. It pisses my mom off. Not in an “I’m actually angry” way, but in a “goddamnit, I hate that! Is there something to it? Goddamnit, this sucks!” way.
So, that’s my question to all of you. Are some things just a [insert whatever] thing? A gay thing; an Asian thing; a g-thang, whatever. Do you feel like you have some experience that makes you better able to understand the nuances of a situation? Or do you think it’s a bullshit cop-out to claim ownership over a particular issue?
It’s midnight on the West Coast. Is anyone awake?
[For those who are curious, check out my new FAQ.]
The Tim Channel
I’m up. Nine am in Germany. I like Mahr and Moore as well.
Obama will be remembered as the President who didn’t prosecute the admitted war criminals.
That is all.
I iz. But it’s Friday and I feel like teasing the fuck out of my Circadian rhythms anyway.
The answer, really, is all of the above. As a gay man, I feel like I understand women better than straight men do. And I have zero issue telling a straight guy he’s being a total dumbdonkey in relation to a woman. But is it innate or just the summation of my experiences on this plane of existence? Honestly, I dunno if I could dissect it like that.
@The Tim Channel: Guten Morgen! Wie geht’s?
Breakfast time in England. This ownership stuff depends on history, which admittedly a lot of people simply don’t know. As a white Limey I’m obviously ironic a lot of the time. But I don’t think I own irony and plenty of people here hate it as ‘elitist’ BBC stuff. Needless to say, such people are the real British.
Well, of course a set of experiences can make you better able to understand the nuances of a given situation. I don’t think that means it’s impossible for someone not possessing that set of experiences to understand those nuances, but it does require a certain will to self-education.
As such, I’d say “It’s a ________ thing” works nicely as a shorthand for ‘you do not have the experiences or education to understand the nuances of this, and I do not have the time or energy to explain it to you’. Unfortunately it also works nicely as a shorthand for a lot of stereotyping bullshit, and it’s hard to distinguish between the two from the outside.
Up in Ohio watching the Petey Greene doc on hulu. Most excellent.
robertdsc-PowerBook & 27 titles
I’m up but for not much longer.
I’m just tired of people bagging on the President.
it’s morning in west africa. i am a white guy who spends alot of time in west africa.
maher’s gangsta comment was uncalled for. stupid. moore is right on one level though: obama needs to take the fight to the opposition. remember how well he did when he debated the rethugs on health care at that republican party summit (or whatever the fuck they call there powwow)? remember? calling out their BS, face to face? he dominated that room easily. more of that please.
@maskling: It was pretty damn awesome. It’ll never happen again. The Republicans looked like idiots, they aren’t taking that chance ever again. They’ll just subpoena and snipe from the sidelines now.
Awake here in San Fran but Friday is raid night. I’m pretty sure the Lich King got a new buff after the Republicans took the house…
By definition, no one has walked in anyone else’s shoes. But most of us are capable of using our powers of observation and memory, and making inferences from what we have observed and remembered.
My default response when someone says “it’s a _____ thing, you wouldn’t understand” is “try me.”
Tangentially related, EDK has a very good post about certainty and doubt up at his other place.
This straight, white male has been dabbling in cocksure obliviousness and white privilege for 28 years. It’s worked pretty decent for us as a group, but I’ve been trying to chuck it aside since at least 22. It’s a bland thing.
First, any thoughtless cracks using racial, gender or any other stereotypes for cheap laughs are lame.
Second, no I didn’t hate Bush for using the legitimate power he had to do stupid things, I only hated that they were stupid things.
Third, as for illegal and criminal things Bush did they should have been reversed on Jan 20, 2009 by midnight by Obama. And they should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.
So, I don’t think Obama is weak like a woman. He’s just weak. I don’t think he needs to pretend to be tough like a gangsta, he just needs to be politically savvy and make some stronger commitments. And he shouldn’t be extending all the illegal wiretapping, Guantanamo detention, appealing DADT, etc.
More importantly he should be sending clear, strong signals to the American people that he will no longer pander to the Wall Street top 1% income crowd. If he shares our values that is.
Excuses are for losers.
@burnspbesq: He’s a Gemini. This explains much.
@LosGatosCA: Oh just be fucking honest: you want him to act as much the unitary executive that Bush was. Never mind the fact that our government was intentionally set up to keep the executive from overstepping their bounds. The fact that Bush had a compliant Congress doesn’t rectify the situation. You don’t want a President, you want a liberal dictator.
Suck It Up!
So if people acknowledge that he can take on the opposition why is he constantly being called a pussy? or weak? or afraid? He’s shown and proved himself before, why is there this constant need for him to pull out his measuring stick?
College basketball season has finally arrived. Yay!
Hey ABL, still up on the northwest coast. I think that unique experiences produce unique insights. Totally. And in the world’s least empathetic culture, you are right that people don’t get it. Really, they usually don’t get it. I spend a lot of time with suburbanites, and woooooowwwww, they don’t get it.
But in a political/social/policy argument, saying “it’s an X thing” is 95% copout. It is a very lazy way of trying to delegitimate the other side, and it doesn’t do the critical thing: open the other guy’s/gal’s eyes.
It’s not good enough to “play the race card.” It is my job to tell you what it’s like to be child of middle class privilege competing every day with overconfident Harvard MBAs and Brahmin caste children from India Institute of Technology and Stanford trading career opportunities with each other, and me losing more often than winning, and tell you what that fear and frustration feels like. It’s your job to explain what it’s like to have people see you as uppity just because you insist on being treated like every other (white/asian) person. We have to take off the pink tutu (Jesus, Michael!) and fight that fight.
BTW, what’s why the incredibly sociopathic performance of our national media is so frustrating. It used to be part of the job of a journalist to foster mutual understanding. Now their job is to kiss up to the rich and powerful and to tell you that your belief that your experiences are unique is a hallucination. So you still have to persuade people that your experience are unique and valid, and you will get no help atall from Chris F-in Matthews.
One more thing: I think Obama is in a racially charged box. He should be taking the fight to the enemy. Gawdammit, he’s got to, these people need to be exposed as the sociopaths they are, and then he should fight like a junkyard dog for the working middle class and the working poor. It can be done, and it would make our country great again.
But can he? If he gets mad and shows it, doesn’t he lose a big chunk of his pathetic 35% of the whites? Isn’t that really the setup Fox has boxed him into? I think they are trying to eliminate his option to go all FDR on them.
It’s late at night, and I am worrying.
Suck It Up!
so now this bullshit is coming from the left?
I just got up. Worked a rare day shift (on the East Coast), was home by 4:00 p.m. and crashed around 8:00. Woke up about half an hour ago and am wide awake. But at least I don’t have to go back to work until 3:00 p.m.
I agree with ABL that Obama does not have much leeway to get “angry.” Sucks, but there it is. I do think he could do more of that cheerful, semi-Spock evisceration that he has hit the Republicans with a few times. That works, and it decodes as angry enough. “Go get ’em, Obama!” or “Wah! The president was mean to us with facts and stuff!” That works for me.
I am very leery of the “I own this experience” card. I sort of agree with Peter above, but I think in actual practice it is used much more often as “a shorthand for a lot of stereotyping bullshit” than as “I really understand the nuances of this situation better than you.” And all too often it is used as a conversation stopper. Once someone has pulled that on you, what can you say?
I want my
countryExecutive Branch back!
@LosGatosCA: Totally agree that the “black talk” is out of line. As to the “weakness” charge, there is this observation by William Greider in the Nation: (my emphasis)
(Greider’s opening 2 paragraphs – not excerpted here – are harsh.)
I know lots of people here are opposed to vocal objection to what Obama has done (and is doing). The Firebagger charge. I take the opposite view, the one Greider outlines above. Obviously, too much carping against the president is unlikely to accomplish much. But a strong voice telling him to knock off the bipartisan/compromise shtick strikes me as helpful.
I have this eerie feeling, just from my own personal observations, that Obama has a sarcastic streak about a mile wide. I think it’s about the only thing keeping him sane right now. That and his daughters. I’d KILL if that would leak out a bit more, especially for those meeting his derision. I’d love to see Issa issue a subpoena for hurt fee-fees.
@Quiddity: FWIW I don’t consider that firebagging. The problem is one ABL is outlining quite clearly though: he’s a black man who must always be calmer than the white folks around him. It sucks, but remember the huge freak-out that followed him raising his voice to the AIDS protester? That wasn’t even more than a flash and he was jumped on. If Obama got really angry, you might like it, but FOX would love it, because it would make their case about how unsuited for the office he is. It’s a total dogwhistle and it sucks, but racism ain’t even close to dead in this country.
“our values?” That’s “it’s a ___ thing’s” first cousin.
Who are “we,” and what are these values we supposedly share?
@burnspbesq: It better involve chocolate. Or cookies. Or even better chocolate cookies. Otherwise I’m outtie.
The one thing about Obama that infuriates me is his continuing belief, against the overwhelming weight of the evidence, that Congressional Republicans are acting in good faith and can be reasoned with. They aren’t, and you can’t.
Angry Black Lady
@Steeplejack: I think it’s a conversation stopper, too. But sometimes it’s hard not to say it.
@dollared: I think the media will be our undoing.
I agree that Obama needs to play hardball. I don’t think it should be couched in antifeminist terms. My problem is that the incessant Obama bashing makes me less inclined to listen to constructive criticism because so much of the criticism is asinine.
@Yutsano: I would love to be a fly on the wall during his conversations with Michelle. I think I have West Wing-itis.
ETA: “Game on, boyfriend.”
I share those values. However, I am somewhat ecumenical. There is room in my world for a good oatmeal raisin cookie.
I’m not of Asian origin, but studied Chinese history and thought in university. In years of discussion and debate, I have never once been told that as a non-Chinese person, I “didn’t get it” about something in ancient China by a person who was actually from China or Taiwan. The only ones who used that bullshit argument were faux-Chinese wankers from places like Singapore, nearly all of whom knew less about China than I did — sometimes very much less.
Of course that doesn’t mean they always agreed with me either. But they would argue back on the basis of facts and interpretations, not my ethnic origins.
You get the ethnic dodge more if you discuss modern China, especially things like the Chinese occupation of Tibet. It flags the argument as worthless.
@Angry Black Lady: You know they have spy cameras the size of flies, amirite? Then again that might not work. Our President is rather fatal to our insectoid brethren.
@burnspbesq: I did hedge my bets a bit. I did just say, “cookie”. Oatmeal raisin would certainly fall under that purview. Though I honestly wasn’t planning on making any of those tomorrow.
Agree mightily on this. The door to compromise and bipartisanship can be left open, but, absent any evidence that the Republicans are interested in either, Obama should pursue his goals and actively point out when and where the Republicans are contributing nothing or–worse, and more often the case–actively hindering progress, even on “non-political” things.
You make great comments about Maher and Moore. We would (rightly) rake anyone else over the coals for that “gangsta” comment.
A couple weeks ago, I stated that black men don’t have the luxury to get “mad as hell.” People got mad as hell at me.
It is fair to argue this. By the same token, if you are going to accept this, it is fair to argue that Obama simply doesn’t have what it takes to deal with Republicans. I don’t actually care if Obama’s race means that he doesn’t have the luxury of acting as a threat to his Republican and Blue Dog opposition. If he can’t do that, then he picked the wrong job.
I get it ABL. I’m white and I get it. I think it has to do with my experiences growing up in SF during the 70’s. I feel I’ve seen it all (maybe not, but it feels that way). Here’s the deal, dumb white liberals: Barack Obama cannot strut around like George Jefferson in the US of A talking about how he’s going to kick some Congressional ass to get legislation passed. CAN’T HAPPEN. For the life of me, I don’t understand why so many white liberals refuse to understand this dynamic. Bill Maher should know better but he doesn’t. He can be so correct and so brilliant sometimes but when it comes to race his ignorance is absolutely astounding. Does he really not know how offensive he’s being? Or is he just so arrogant and full of himself that he thinks he’s entitled to a pass? Honestly, I’m embarrassed for Maher when he talks like that. It’s really quite disgusting.
I have Obama’s back. He’s doing the best he can…the best anyone could possibly do under these circumstances. I see what he’s up against and I get it. He’s the best president of my life time and I’ll continue to support him. And to all the clueless white liberals who just don’t get it: Go fuck yourselves.
@Angry Black Lady:
Oh, yes yes yes. Asinine is right. I probably agree with a lot of what Maher says, but I don’t like him, so I don’t watch him. Now, I like Michael Moore, but that pink tutu crap – well, he knows better; it’s lazy and disrespectful, and if I’d been there when he said it, I’d have hurled a toe shoe at him. (Not really: those things can be lethal. Even though ballerinas wear them, and often while dressed in pink freakin tutus.)
I don’t believe that he believes any such thing. I think he knows exactly who and what they are. Now, how he acts on this is a whole nother thing, and if it involves a strategy, I admit I cannot discern it at this point, two years in.
You do realize you just ruled out the President being anything but a straight white male in that statement, right? Until the demographics shift enough that white folks don’t lose their shit over minorities of any stripe expressing themselves that is. I’ll be lucky to live long enough to see that.
10:30 am here in France. Obama = Gorbachev. Timid attempts at reforming a doomed system. FAIL. Sad.
Suck It Up!
When is someone going to call out Maher and Moore and the entire liberal crew that they have stereotype/race issues that THEY need to work out?
That is not the first time that Maher has made that “gangsta” statement. I didn’t find it funny then and I don’t find it funny now. When I first heard it it immediately occurred to me that this is exactly what the left was expecting from Obama. Obama gave them no reason to believe that he was “gangsta”, this is the stereotype they have of black men. And any black man who doesn’t act all gangsta must then be weak. That’s what it looks like to me and its makes me sick. This “tutu” comment from Moore is interesting considering how liberals have been painted as weak, effeminate, and whiny. Hey maybe liberals are just projecting?
I for one, would like to see liberals stop telling everyone else what to do and actually, ya know, do something. They keep telling me that Democrats are bad at messaging, governing, and legislating and that liberals could do it better(there is plenty of evidence to prove otherwise, but hey) so stop puffing up your chest liberals, stop hiding under Obama’s “tutu” waiting for him to do and say everything for you and go fight! Stop preaching to the choir and start talking to those that don’t belong to the “base”. Show the Dem party how its done (how you think its supposed to be done) or just STFU! Get out in front instead of live blogging Obama’s every move.
Now regarding Moore’s comments that there is so much Obama can do without congress. Well he has, its just no one gives a crap enough to talk about it on the news or on the blogs. TNR (yeah ha ha TNR) wrote about this in Feb. 2010 in and article titled “The Quiet Revolution” :
So few talk about this, but not a day goes by where I don’t read about the dumping of some watered down public option or how Rahm called liberals f-ing retarded.
Well, laughing hysterically any time you see the number 69 seems like it’s a 13-year old boy thing- or inner 13-year old boy thing. And I can tell you from experience, that when your 13-year old son realizes on the drive to Comerica Park from West Michigan that there’s actually an I-69 that runs through the state, and he loses his shit without any prompting…Well, it’s a wonderful thing.
And when you’re out somewhere watching a football or hockey game and you hear two nerdy looking guys make references to the critical hits chart? That’s a D&D thing.
What makes you think Obama believes the Republicans act out of good faith?
Obama says that he will work with the Republicans. He can’t be called obstructionist.
It’s a political strategy and it will play out.
If he calls the Republican names and says how crazy they are, he loses his ability to work with them at all. He got a lot of things done because of his way of being calm and not reacting to all of the insults.
Let’s say he goes off in a fit of anger. Then what? It doesn’t help anyone in the country.
The msm loves drama of the day and they look for it everywhere. They don’t find it with Obama and they don’t like it.
A lot of whining about Obama is because there is this stupid idea that a lot of things are emotional issues. In reality they are practical issues.
The UI extension is up for grabs, for instance. If Obama goes into a diatrabe against the current Repubs in Congress, how does that get the extension passed? The Repubs would not stop blocking it in a deal in the Senate and what happens to the people whose benefits are gone?
We are still at the “Call me Mr.Tibbs” attitudes toward race.
I’m not up very long and so pardon my lack of clarity on this.
You do realize you just ruled out the President being anything but a straight white male in that statement, right?
If he is culturally constrained from being effective by the electorate, then he shouldn’t place himself in a position of power. Or he should defy the cultural constraints put on him and let the chips fall where they may. America is too important to leave to someone who is not up for the job. I don’t see why “as a black man, Obama can’t act in ways that the electorate would want from another president,” is acceptable: it may not be fair if he can’t do the job, but this is our country and party we are talking about here.
As a raised-poor white man who had to share the bad neighborhood with minorities of all colors, saying Obama can never show anger is self-defeating towards everything he wants to accomplish.
Sometimes regardless of the stereotypes, you HAVE to raise hell. Did anyone counsel Bobby Kennedy that he couldn’t lose his cool and look like the Mick in the corner bar? No.
Raising hell has been an important part of the civil rights movement and truth be told, all private liberty movements. Obama does himself a disservice by withholding it from his arsenal.
Edit – Fuck yeah, Tyro. That.
The only way I can explain it is to say there’s a difference between “understanding something” and “grokking something.” To say it’s an “X thing” is to basically say- if you haven’t lived within a certain context and community then you can only understand intellectually and not experientially or intuitively.” There’s an intuition-based knowledge that comes from living in a certain context that seems to be best expressed with the saying “It’s a gay thing” or a “It’s a black thing.”
And while I’m pontificating on something I know nothing about (ya, I’m on the intenret!) let me just say that I do not believe it is particularly controversial to say that we’re social constructed to a large degree. We are, however, individuals. And our knowledge base and field of experience that are dependent on the interaction of our individual characteristics and the contexts in which we live.
To that end, I really cannot understand what it is like to be a black woman in a contemporary American context. I can imagine what certain aspects of that experience are like. That would be “understanding.” But I cannot truly grok the experience of a black woman in contemporary America. To that end, those things that are intuited by a black woman and those experiences that in some instances escape expression to someone who has not lived within that particular context are what is meant when someone says “It’s an X thing.”
Either way- I love your posts, ABL!
It’s a political strategy and it will play out.
Nice job with that political strategy. He faced near universal opposition from Republican legislators throughout his presidency, and the Dems lost 60 seats in the house and with it control of that chamber. The proof is in the pudding here: if it’s such a fine political strategy, then the alternative outcome would have had to be worse, and it’s hard to see how that would be possible.
Suck It Up!
One more thing:
people need to get used to who Obama is at his core. To put it succinctly, Obama is not Alan Grayson. And thank God. That is not what the people elected and that is not what I want. I would rather have this Obama who gets stuff done and continues to be himself while both sides attack his morals, principles, manhood and citizenship. Obama is doing what he needs to do in order to accomplish his goals for this country. I certainly hope he has no intention of taking on foolish and needless fights in order to be worshiped and idolized forever by 10% of the democratic base.
by the way, TNC had a great discussion on the “angry black man” and populism and I think it ties in nicely with this post.
Heh. It’s a quarter to two, which means I probably won’t even attempt to get to sleep for another two hours. I was always nocturnal, and working the 12-9 shift has moved my circadian rhythms into vampire territory.
THIS X INFINITY
I’ve been wondering for two years if in their haste to believe we’d reached Post-Racial Utopia, a lot of white progressives have forgotten that Obama is, in fact, still black. And that means that if he expresses even mild annoyance, in the minds of many, he morphs into ANGRY BLACK MAN. I suspect he is naturally pretty reserved, but he’s also very aware that any display of anger will be interpreted as Scary Black Rage.
Oh, Bill Maher…fail moar. What really makes his comment stupid to me is…hello, have you SEEN our President? In our house, we refer to him as the Dork In Chief. Obama is about as gangsta as I am, which is to say that if he wasn’t President he’d probably be staying up late playing WoW and arguing online about why Picard is more awesome than TOS Kirk, but Chris Pine had some good moments in the Reboot.
As far as “It’s a black thing; you wouldn’t understand,” it’s frequently used to shut down discussion. But sometimes….it just is.
Jim, Foolish Literalist
That would be the same Bill Maher and Michael Moore who told us there was no difference between “Bore and Gush”?
Suck It Up!
And another discussion here:
that is all.
Angry Black Lady
@Yutsano: That link was dead, but I’m pretty sure you’re talking about this!
Is it possible for anyone of any gender or race who’s born and raised in Hawaii- except maybe the native peoples- to even get angry?
Michael Moore so lost me with the pink tutu remark. Sexism. So nice to know you haven’t lost that along the way to being the privileged white male who feels the pain of the people whose life stories pay his bills.
And then Maher does that gangsta shit? Dead. To. Me.
As for “it’s an X thing?” I know it’s real. Both for what I grok that others don’t and what I can’t grok. A friend of mine who’s a transwoman gave me a really good example of how that works recently. Mental exercise: You wake up one morning and your gender is wrong. You can’t fix it by wishing or going back to sleep. How does it feel? What I understood by thinking about that is what she groks by living it.
As a woman, I spend every day knowing I will see sexism. That my gender will be belittled somehow. And I’m a bad sport if I fight it. That I grok. Some men know. Some men have tasted that, some more deeply than others. I swim in it, breathe it, and will likely die with it.
That’s what “it’s an X thing” should mean. It gets abused like crazy, though.
It’s a bullshit cop-out excuse to claim ownership. Cultural and ethnic nuances exist – they can also be explained and contextualized. Except that by contextualizing it, 95% of the time, it becomes obvious how mindless and meaningless it really is. An excuse to act out, rather than anything with actual depth or purpose.
Is it possible for anyone of any gender or race who’s born and raised in Hawaii- except maybe the native peoples- to even get angry?
Get out in front
Obama is out in front. He has made it quite clear that he doesn’t want the Democratic party doing Amy messaging or fighting but rather wants it facing constant dishonest attacks from the right which are allowed to metastasize and take control of the government.
Oh, and Barack Obama is not a coward, timid, weak, spineless, gutless etc. etc. blah, blah, blah. This meme being constantly put forth by the left is beyond craven. These accusations of cowardice along with Maher’s comments on Obama’s lack of gangsta-ness reveal something odious about our culture. Maybe people just aren’t comfortable with a poweful black man who goes against stereotype? Whatever. Obama is smart enough to know that taking on the Repigs in a face to face, ultimate fighting showdown would make great porn for the punched hippies of the world but would get him and our country nowhere. He knows how well all that “fighting” worked out for the Clintons. Besides, big aggro just isn’t his style. He uses his brain, not his fists…so to speak.
The transwoman I spoke of in my last comment is a haole from the Big Island, and she’s very capable of getting angry. I’ve known people from Hawai’i of multiple races, and they’re just as rage-capable as anyone else. What an odd stereotype you have there.
@Suck It Up!:
Perfectly said. Thank you!
Bill E Pilgrim
Yeah Bill Maher can be truly dumb sometimes. I think he’s funny too, but only in the New Rules segment, oddly.
Here’s someone saying the same thing as Maher and Moore were saying, without the stereotypes, if you’re interested. I agree with it entirely.
Okay, let me frame it another way:
Why is there any reason to believe that Obama has any sort of rage to show? The way Maher drops in “gangsta”, it’s as if he thinks Obama grew up in the Robert Taylor Homes, or in the Cass Corridor. Or that he thinks there’s some generational rage from feeling the pain of his enslaved ancestors…Which, of course, he didn’t have. Do the cops in Honolulu write up a lot of DWBs?
Look, don’t get me wrong here. I went to public schools in the rust belt, in a city, not a ‘burb. I saw the shit that my black friends- from middle to lower-middle to straight up poverty classes- had to put up with, and how no one of their reactions was the same when confronted with horrible racism; I’ve seen how my niece responded when the N-word was hurled at her, and I dread the day that it happens to my now-10-year old nephew…But it’s like there’s this assumption that every black person is either sitting on or expressing some great anger, and I just don’t see it. Not in every black person, that is.
Now that is what I call the $64 question.
And no, it’s not always visible, that rage, either. If it’s there. Obama spent several years in Indonesia and other parts of his life in Hawaii, where race has different dimensions than where you or I grew up. I recall people questioned whether he was “black enough” in part because he lacked the slave-owned background thanks to his father being Kenyan. He knows damn well he’s black. But how he experiences being black is not how Jesse Jackson does. So does Obama have that rage? How would he have developed it?
And gods, do I wonder if I read like a stupid white chick in that paragraph.
Angry Black Lady
@Angry Black Lady: I am talking to myself. Hello me!
This is one of the West Wing clips that still makes me tingle.
Heeheee….Stupid? No. More like a nerdy sociology or psych student. I’ve got an old friend on whose life I’m pretty sure Steve Urkel was based, and he’d be cracking up if he read that- and telling you not to be so self-conscious about it.
@Angry Black Lady:
Me, too. At 6am.
Hi. Yes. TNC thread on the very subject. Sometimes, I can’t understand what someone else is going through. Someone has cancer and is dying? Can’t understand it.* Someone has to worry about being on the streets? Can’t understand it. It doesn’t mean I won’t listen and try to learn, but I cannot completely understand it no matter how much I try–and it’s condescending to say, “I understand” when I clearly don’t. And, I rarely use the it’s a “fill in the blank” thing until I’ve exhausted every other avenue and am too pissed-off/defeated/tired to try any longer. It’s not easy presenting a point of view that is against the mainstream in any way. Not only are you conscious that you are DIFFERENT, you also have the burden of explaining why you are different to people who have the luxury of not seeing it if they choose not to. I’ve had white people say to me, “I just don’t want to think about race for once.” My response, “I wish I didn’t have to think about race.”
TNC got it right. In trying to always claim connection (liberals, for the most part), we are uncomfortable with the fact that there are some connections we don’t have. Can’t have. And, that it’s OK not to have those connections. We are not all the same.
*Should clarify, by understand, I mean I don’t know what it feels like. I can try to simulate and I am pretty empathetic, so I can put myself in someone else’s shoes, but only to a certain extent.
Identity politics, NO! Ever been to a gathering of Nam vets and see a “If you weren’t there shut your mouth button”?
Here’s a piece from a review of Todd Gitlin’s 1995 book that is relevant
“The main thesis of The Twilight of Common Dreams is that the Right and the Left have essentially reversed themselves. Whereas the Right formerly stood for the privileged few (mainly rich, white males) and the Left spoke for universality on behalf of the dispossessed masses (the Internationale and all that), now it is the Right that employs the rhetoric of the common good while the Left appears lost in a maze of ever unfolding select and politically defining social categories. “Americans,” he says, “are obsessed today with their racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual identities.”
Well, as a woman, especially a woman of a certain age, there are things about my life that no man, no matter how sympathetic or empathetic he may be, will EVER understand. It isn’t possible because a man will never experience the things women do in our society, the casual sexism and the constant vigilance for safety and the ways our bodies and its chemistry affects us and so many other things that men just don’t experience.
And though I’m a woman and experience many of the same things they do, I don’t feel that I can completely understand the experiences of black women. Intellectually, I get it but I’ll never really GET it because I don’t live it. White privilege may be less for us, but it still exists.
But the fact that we can’t completely walk in another’s shoes does not mean that we shouldn’t try. And cutting off discussion by saying “it’s a woman thing” is just being too lazy to make the effort to try to educate those who may just want to make that effort.
@geg6: We started re-watching “Prime Suspect” last night and the resistance that Helen Mirren faces as the first female to lead a murder investigation in her unit is wonderfully stated.
He has regulatory power; he can issue edicts and orders…“ Really? Isn’t that why you hated Dubya?
No, we hated the specific edicts and orders. Torture, appointing industry people and criminals to important posts … Shall I go on?
And the pink tutu could just be a reference to dainty dancing. Not necessarily some gender reference.
I’d like to see Michael Moore spend one day doing the workout that a ballerina does. Those women are fierce! So he can shove the pink tutu right up his…..
@dan: You have managed to miss the whole entire point of the post.
No need to continue discussion here.
@Suck It Up!: Thank you for everything you have just said. You get it.
Someone should inform Mr. Moore that the performers in pink tutus likely have more athletic ability and strength than he could ever dream of. It’s really easy to carp about what should be done in the fray from the safe sidelines, where little effort is required. Same goes for Maher – sarcasm is easy, governing is not.
I wonder if the problem for pundits is their lack of a frame of reference for Obamas governing and political style. I can think of no President going back beyond Eisenhower who combines his technocratic governing and rhetorical and organizational genius for electoral politics. So the pundits fall for the cheap trick of pining for a swaggering tough-guy ideal. Abraham Lincoln would have suffered the same treatment by our present sorry-ass press.
The problem is not Obama actually being angry. He can be quiet and get stuff done but Americans want a testosterone fueled manly man waving his d#$k around letting everybody know who the man is. That’s where Obama falls short. He’s too professorial/wimpy so he comes across like he doesn’t have a real commitment to liberal values. I also think he’s the first president with three 24/7 news channels plus CNBC and Fox business, and bloggers going after him with at least the equivalent of 2 channels actively against him. I wonder if FDR or LBJ would have been able to do what they did with that hammering them. If Obama is in a bubble I am almost glad he is because I have no idea how you would get anything done with people questioning everything you do.
Since it’s easy to make suggestions, I think that the President should show more emotion. Racists are going to criticize him anyway, so what additional damage can they do. The Republicans have been getting away with
bending the truthlying and the republicans have refused to compromise. The first person I would call a liar is my representative Tom Price for his bogus grandstanding about reducing the deficit with imaginary cuts in spending. He doesn’t have to use anger, he can simply use sarcasm. “Maybe Rep. Price doesn’t realize that program has ended.”
The President gave excellent speeches overseas and how much time did network news give his speeches? In order to regain use of the bully pulpit, the President is going to have to change his approach.
Sorry for the rant, but just because President Obama isn’t a fat old white guy, doesn’t mean he can’t show emotion. I don’t buy that.
kommrade reproductive vigor
B.M. can fuck himself with a chainsaw, also.
@Suck It Up!:
That shit’s been coming from the left since January 21, 2008.
Hell, go to a VFW hall or American Legion post, and just sit in the room.
With three tours downrange as an infantryman, you’d think I’ve earned the right to some respect from my fellow vets, but you’d be wrong. I still hear about how the Viet Nam guys had it worse, the Korean guys had it worse and so on and so on and how I just don’t understand…
And then those guys wonder why nobody from my generation is joining them.
Good morning from Ohio.
I had to google “grok.” It is obviously NOT an old-white-woman thing. :-)
But I would like to put in a word for Obama’s right to be who he is. Whoever and whatever that is. He has a right to be himself.
This man is a human being. He is not a lump of clay that we can push and pummel into the shape we want. He is not property. We don’t own him. He is not a slave. We don’t have the right to say “Be this” or “Be that”.
Barack Obama has an absolute right to be himself.
And if we are pissed off about his exercising that right, then fuck us.
Thank you. [small bow, returns to seat]
Yes, exactly, a liberal dictator. That’s exactly right. How did you guess.
No, actually I’ll take a strong liberal leader instead of a centrist compromiser.
As kos said the other day:
every word THIS
I am sooooooo happy that Angry Black Lady is on this blog… very stimulating, vibrant and direct. Pleasnt good morning from the 3rd world where I reside very contentedly. I for one, that thank God we have a president who, with all the constant bludgeoning every day from all and sundry, that is actually getting stuff done. That has to be a man with some steel balls, because the point is the detractors with their constant ‘in and out swing mode ready to critique ‘every godamned move, can really throw you off your stride.
Weak…..yeah,right! Weak, but you manage to get health care passed and so much more legislation in 2 years. He literally kerfuffles the press because they have never, ever known anyone like him. Deep down most of them harbour the thought that a black man shouldn’t be making decisions for the majority whites. I say, continue on Mr President. Keep vigilante, know what the people are feeling but don’t be swayed by the the sturm and drang of political blathering as they are just addicted to printing and getting riled up at every thought in their head whether relevant or not!
It always makes me laugh outloud, liberals talking tough on the internet, or criticizing Obama as “weak”. Most of the time, all you have to do with them is say “boo” and they scurry away. None of you twinkies could hold Obama’s jockstrap. First black dude to get himself elected president, and all of that. But let’s here some more from the false persona machismo crowd. LOL>
@General Stuck: You know, I am so disgusted by people regurgitating tired ass right-wing and media talking points. Dumbasses aren’t just relegated to the right, the left has plenty of them too.
Also there are so many racial insensitive people on the left as well. It’s very disheartening. Just reading some people on this thread going on about how being black doesn’t play into the game, just shows how far we have to go in race relations.
People want to talk about torture all day long which the typical low information voter doesn’t care about. Most people are worried about finding a job, keeping a job, keeping a roof over their head and food on the table.
That’s really about it.
Yes, Maher was out of line in a very insensitive way. But Moore was just flat out wrong; Obama has not been a mess because he is weak. Obama has been a mushy, some might say disinterested bystander in the process, ineffective leader either because he thinks that is the way to get things done or because he is OK with what has been done.
The heavy lifting of creating the health care disaster passed, the ineffective banking reform, the inadequate stimulus was all done by people like Nancy and Harry. The White House acted as if they were OK with whatever came out of the sausage mill. Compare Boy Blunders “my way or the highway” pronouncements on bills he wanted to Obama’s statements on HCD – what the hell did he want?
You might argue that they felt that was the best way to get the job done but you can’t argue it didn’t look weak.
JMC in the ATL
To answer the original question, the following are gay things, and you will not understand them:
2. Hearing the word “fag” said under someone’s breath as you walk past them on the street at 2am and having to decide quickly what to do
3. Tasteful flower arrangements
4. Living in mortal fear that at some point you’ll forget to code switch your gender pronouns in a state without sexual orientation in the workplace anti-discrimination law
5. How much being the only gay in the village sucks
6. The assumptions that the most unattractive straight men have that of course you want to invade their flabby asses
7. Irrational devotion to Martha Stewart
8. Growing up having it constantly reinforced that if your family, your church, your community will throw you out if they know the real you, and that you’ll never been good enough to be a full participant because of something you inherently are, not anything you’ve actively done
9. The YMCA
10. Brunch (so awesome, it must be listed twice).
It is softcore racism, any way you cut it. And from the left, imagine that.
Watched Real Time last night, and I found Maher’s Obama as bad-ass comment irritating.
What, in Obama’s demeanor or history, would have ever given Maher the idea that he would be Shaft by mid-term?
I always think back to Obama’s “Whose ass do I have to kick” comment during the oil spill. I cringed because it’s just not Obama, and it’s unnatural when he appears as such.
But, there is a disconnect somewhere, where Obama’s levelheadedness reads as uncaring and detached. It does seem like it would go a long way for him to find some balance, but I can’t quite see how he could be more aggressive without it seeming a little to flight-suit-on-battleship.
@General Stuck: It is truly sad. And regardless of how much it is pointed out, they keep repeating the same tired bullshit over and over like zombies.
Lack of historical perspective be damned.
Every time I have read a comment of how ineffective of a leader he supposedly is, I just laugh.
I have step back and realize that the blogosphere’s racial, educational and income makeup are skewed. As I have proclaim before none of the internet commenters are the majority of PBO’s base. The typical democratic voter doesn’t sign on to the same strange goalpost moving as internet liberals do. I am glad we only make up like less than 5%-10% of the electorate.
Also, haven’t the internet progressives been great at fielding candidates?/snark
@DaBomb: I’ve been teetering for months on whether to just finally write off liberal political blogs altogether as lost causes.
I was over at Daily Kos the other day, and in one of the diaries they were posting about potential candidates to Primary Obama in 2012. Who? Maddow, Grayson, Feingold, Kucinich.
The usual suspects.
Still, I like reading liberal blogs. There’s something a little more refreshing than reading straight news (if there is such a thing anymore) and I do like arguing with anonymous people on the Internet.
Also, as much as I disagree with some criticisms of Dems or Obama, I also think many comments are dead on, and may reflect opinions on a larger scale. It’s at least a snap shot of many people who vote for the Dems and it’s important to see where everyone stands.
P.S., Michael Moore’s pink tutu comment struck me as deeply offensive and borderline homophobic. But, at least now I now Obama is a Milquetoast pansy whose wrist is so limp, Michelle has to help him sign his ineffectual legislation. Thanks Michael and Bill!
@General Stuck: Don’t do that! Who would I have to vent too! :)
I understand the feeling. That’s why I just lurk mostly. I am grateful for voices like Angry Black Lady and a host of others that live in this vast swampland known as the blogosphere.
But it’s nice to return to reality where majority of people do understand what the President has been through, the minefields he avoids and what he’s dealing with. They also amazingly understand it’s Congress that’s suppose to legislate and also that some things take time.
If majority of the people who reside in the blogosphere are so educated then why are they so dumb.
@JMC in the ATL:
This particular disability also afflicts a number of white women [and perhaps others] who find themselves in situations where people of different race/class/whatever are thrown together. “My ass is gold and everybody wants a piece of it.” Amusing when the woman in question has no real power. Not so funny when she does.
@Hal: Obama’s problem is that if he were to act less level-headed and more visibly emotional, the entire right wing, and a significant part of the left would be complaining about the scary (violent) black guy.
I don’t agree, most of the liberals I know(People of Color) don’t think the President is weak or ineffective. They see him as a black man who has been criticized beyond belief with the goalposts constantly moving. They see this country as not liking the fact a black guy is making decision for a majority of its white citizens. He has became a role model to millions of little black boys and girls who feel that they could now be what they want.
Hence why we still have his back in high numbers.
And the ones who do believe he is weak(very, very few) get called out for it strongly and subsquently ignored… i.e. Tavis Smiley and Cornel West.
@soonergrunt: Shit, no one in MY generation joined that bullshit either, until they got old.
I can honestly say that if Obama is primaried and that person wins, Democrats will lose the black vote for a long time. We just won’t vote. And that’s based on reality.
Cheryl from Maryland
Dear Michael Moore and way too many others:
Stop with the male = courageous and female = cowardly/weak analogies. You sound just like Christine O’Donnell and Sharon Angle.
Please, calm the fuck down.
And I mean that in the most respectful way.
@eastriver: If you don’t like what ABL says, then go away!!!!
@stuckinred: My grandfather, a WWII vet, once told me that he never had any interest in joining either the VFW or the American Legion*. To him, the significant thing was that he was eligible to join.
(*) He saw them as right leaning and wasn’t interested in giving them money.
Yes we do.
Why? Because he works for us. We are his employer. We–the electorate– hired him. If he keeps on doing what he has been doing the “electorate” WILL fucking fire him.
Look, our “side”–Dems and liberals or progressives or whatever one wishes to call us–is what democracy was meant to be; a bunch of people passionately arguing for what our vision of what America should be and will become.
Rethugs have an advantage because basically, many of them like authoritarianism deep down. That, and because many of them are gullible as shit and easily manipulated, greedy, “I’ve got mine, so fuck you” assholes.
“Divide and conquer” has stuck around as a “useful” adage for centuries because it works. The Dem Party is really susceptible to it. Rethugs are masters at exploiting the chaos and internal debate amongst Dem factions. But Obama is startinbg to become his own worst enemy because he appears weak and gets outmaneuvered. by the Rethugs (with huge assists from the media and the ultra rich).
Obama could have quelled a lot of the "noise" from the left if he would quit "negotiating" from a position of weakness. HCR is a perfect example. Sure, full on "soshulized medicine" was never possible in America of 2009, but would it have hurt for Obama to go "speechifying" across the country about it? Hell no.
Same goes for this bit about tax cuts–he's doing it some (being more forceful)–but they completely cocked up the message with Axlerod and Obama's submissive posture at the news conference right after the election.
Perception becomes reality in America. You have the rethugs screaming "socialistAfrricanMuslamofascist" anyway, so why disillusion your base by appearing to be a spineless wimp that wears a "pink tutu"?
Walking in another person’s shoes is a cliche for a reason–it’s pretty near impossible. Noting that being black in America is a unique situation shouldn’t be offensive to any thinking person.
We white people can at best sometimes imagine how skin privilege benefits us, and how having a brown skin affects African Americans. Nobody can sustain the effort all the time, and nobody has perfect empathy.
Possibly, but context is everything. My fellow college students used it to lord over others an exclusive group identity (“I’m in and you’re not, and I’m making sure that you know that”). The neighborhood cops use it to save themselves a lot of explanation that non-cops generally do not understand anyway.
And the upthread comments about “get mad” are easy to establish: Obama could easily, daily, stick it to the fvcking soulless bastards that seek to run everything into the ground. But he’d be crucified by, well, damn near everyone else. It’s reminiscent of fighting the Mafia.
In hindsight, I wish the public option would’ve got through – if you’re going to lose your ass no matter what, go big. I hope at least that lesson is clearer now.
Maher’s comment is based on the prejudice (which I have to admit I shared), that as a black man, President Obama would naturally come into office intent on addressing social justice issues and righting race based wrongs.
That’s the usual problem of expecting someone to behave a certain way because of his or her race (or gender, or sexual preference).
@maskling: All talk and no action that is Obama. On second thought he acts regularly to support his friends. And you are not his friend.
That’s a big problem. I wasn’t expecting President Obama to come into office and solve all of the race based wrongs or social justice issues in under 2 years. I wanted him to work on the economy and jobs. He happened to implement a foundation for health care reform. These things affect everyone.
He has done some social justice work, with Native Americans(farming monies owed and provisions to help tribal police investigate domestic abuse cases proficiently- bug deal to the tribal community), and blacks(invested the highest amount of funding to HBCUs in years). Those are just the tip of the iceberg.
High unemployment amongst blacks is a systemic issue that has been occurring well before President Obama was elected. That would not have been corrected in under two years in this post-racial utopia of ours.
@lawguy: No action? What planet do live on?
You are precisely what I am talking about, when I state that commenters in the netroots are dumbasses.
@jazzgurl: I so agree with this and I think that there’s still racism among the so-called lefties who somehow think they know more than the black guy who managed to get himself elected in this crazy country. People like maher and moore seem so self-important and smug to me – they’ll say anything to get a laugh.
Not recognizing that, as a group, we share wrongheaded, hateful, racist, sexist and hypocritical sentiments to the same degree as anyone else. Its a white liberal thing.
Oh, yeah, and it IS true. Our shit smells like rose petals. So grow a pear. Preferably large and organic.
Maybe the problem isn’t just the President. The Republicans opened the door to criticism when they touted cutting the budget by getting rid of a non existent program. What democratic marched out and laughed in their faces? I don’t have cable but I can assure the networks didn’t cover a democratic party member criticizing the ploy.
Elon James White might disagree with you.
i don’t mean to be too obstreperous in defending bill maher, because i can certainly see where his comment is offensive.
that said, i think maher is thinking a bit too far down the line…he has been an obama supporter from back in the primaries.
he is imagining a world of today, that he had hoped for two whole years ago…terrorist fist bumps…the whole fox 9.
he says he was hoping that obama would have kicked some ass, in the estimation of the ever illusive middle, and that it was driving the right wing crazy, and to complete dissolution, that obama was succeeding where bush failed, reversing the mistakes of the previous republican regime, and letting everyone know, it was their mistakes that he was fixing…
ie, what a lot of us think should have happened, maybe to a greater degree than he is being given credit for, did happen…
its understanding that the obama that everyone loved wanted hoped for expected, would have driven the right wing nuts, and that they would have gone apeshit…
its into that mix, where everyone but the obvious right wing who continues to hate him unreasonably, as they have in either case, but now enjoy at least some temporary credibility with the illusive middle… he imagines, an obama that continued to drive them nuts and continued to win, not just in the illusive middle, but on the left….
into that mix, he imagined he would be tweeking the right wing, with such comments, irony because of how well he was doing, and doing the opposite of their most paranoid fears..
again..i do get that his comment was offensive, but i think, maybe less so, if you follow the assumptions he was making to get to where he thought he would be, in making such statements.
Also it rally aggravates me to no end to have Obama’s feet put to the fire constantly by both sides of the political parties. The, of course, I wake up and understand the good ole boys and girls reside in both places.
In my experience and in my time, anger is good when the energy is used as fuel to accomplish whatever your goals are in life rather than spouting it in public.
In re: to the original question by ABL – it’s the response to someone saying “I have a Black friend or Black friends” that I really wonder about.
Maher just betrayed that, like practically all people, he notices a person’s color/ethnicity/gender and factors that into how he expects a person to behave or react.
Such generalizations are completely human, but they present problems because generalizations are also the mechanism by which the harms of racism and sexism are enacted.
Part of our problem as a society is that we have trouble discussing these issues without getting angry. A lot of blood and tears have been spilled by innocent people as a result of racism, and it’s not easy to discuss dispassionately.
“But by explicitly saying he will be a one-term president, Obama can deliver on his central campaign promise of 2008, draining the poison from our culture of polarization and ending the resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose.”
You have to be a real fucking idiot to think that anything short of killing all liberals will ‘drain the poison from our culture of polarization, etc.”.
Why do stupid people so often rise to the top?
Didn’t Bill Maher have a show on ABC that mirrors what he does on HBO?
If I remember correctly, he said something stupid concerning 9/11 and ABC shitcanned him.
Bill Maher didn’t go gangsta with ABC; he whined like the punk-ass bitch he is.
You wrote, “most of the liberals I know(People of Color) don’t think the President is weak or ineffective. They see him as a black man who has been criticized beyond belief with the goalposts constantly moving. They see this country as not liking the fact a black guy is making decision for a majority of its white citizens.”
I’m white, but this expresses my feelings exactly. He’s the best president in my lifetime, and he gets no respect and no support from the people who should be helping him.
One writer is from Jimmy Carter’s camp and the other from Clinton’s.
Jimmy Carter serving one term did drain the poison from our culture of polarization and ended resentment and division that have eroded our national identity and common purpose right?
Did that happen or have I been asleep for all of my life?
There’s no way to know as it would be impossible to wrestle it away from Cole.
In case anyone forgot, Michael Moore was a “there’s no difference between Ds and Rs” Nader supporter in 2000.
I don’t think he’s weak or mushy or any of those things. IMO, at some point you have to conclude the policies and outcomes we are seeing are the desired ones.
@DaBomb: I feel the same way and I’m not even black. I don’t think that will happen though. Parties that primary their own president don’t do well and Kucinich and Feingold have both already said they aren’t playing. This is just a fantasy of the bloggy bomb throwers, who are far less important than they think they are.
Hell, the Tea Party movement is a racist backlash against the election of the first non-white POTUS.
About 9/11, Maher observed, correctly, that it takes more physical courage to ride a plane into a skyscraper than it does to launch a cruise missile.
Because he had the nerve to make an honest observation that humanized our enemy at a time when our culture was invested in dehumanizing them, he lost advertisers and thus his show.
Following 9/11, anyone who explained that we were attacked for reasons any more sophisticated than ‘they are evil and hate us for our freedoms’ (a real benchmark of stupidity), was vilified.
No one will primary Obama, it’s about as dead in the water as Heath Shuler beating Pelosi for Minority Speaker.
Lots of people like to use it as a tactic though. “Oh yeah? You disagree with President Obama?! Then find the person who will replace him! Huh! Just find that person and tell us who it is!!”
Yes, if you don’t agree with the front page poster just go away & never come back! That will make this site as exciting as . . . paste.
Really, nobody here should ever disagree with anyone else, its the only way we can have an intelligent discussion.
So you are only 9-10 years old? As moderate as Clinton was he was a more effective President & got more of what he wanted (we can argue if they were all things he should have wanted) out of a hostile Congress than Obama did with a majority in Congress.
Yes, a lot of liberal angst has to do with the appearance over time that these are the results he wanted. That is the problem.
“The magical negro is a supporting, sometimes mystical stock character in fiction who, by use of special insight or powers, helps the white protagonist get out of trouble.”
Sadly, I think that many white people, this writer included, had some tendency to want Obama to fill that role.
Rush Limbaugh is still a scum-sucking parasite who profits from promoting racial strife.
@alwhite: Whatever jackass. Apparently by your comment to Gogol’s Wife, you are someone to have a rational discussion with. *eyeroll*
So Clinton was able to get HCR, Fin Reg, money for HBCU’s, repeal DADT, DOMA, and ENDA(OH YEAH, HE SIGNED THOSE), narrow crack-cocaine disparities(oh yeah he widened that too…), signed Lilly Ledbetter…Etc..etc..
It’s like educating a zombie. Same crap over and over.
Bill Clinton benefited from economic good times.
He completely failed to reorient the U.S. from a Cold War antagonist into a leader in peace.
Obama has been dealt the worst hand of any president since at least Roosevelt, and probably since Lincoln. At least Roosevelt had the American working class solidly behind him.
Obama was handed two practically unwinable wars; an economy on the precipice; a seething, culturally divided nation; with an opposition party whose visceral drive was to defeat him regardless of the consequences for the country.
It is an imperative for many white Americans that Obama fail, even if the country goes into the shitter with him.
All I need to know:
Douglas Schoen is an American political analyst, pollster, author, and commentator. He is a political analyst for Fox News. He partnered with political strategist Mark Penn and Michael Berland in the firm of Penn, Schoen & Berland.
Just read every comment. Great thread. DaBomb is da bomb.
Well, Clinton did repeal Glass Steagall, he does have that going for him/snark
No, it did not bother me that Dumbass Dubya issued orders, it was the fascist psycho content of the orders that he issued that bothered me.
When confronted with a completely obstructionist Congressional minority that will do absolutely anything to stop his alleged agenda, Obama owes it to his supporters and his country to do the right thing in any way he can within the law.
Jesus, it’s this milquetoast nicey nice excuse making that pisses me off most about the dems. with that attitude, the Republicans will take over permanently, because they do not care about such delicacies.
Clinton was the first person I voted for (I had just turned 18), and the Bill Clinton I voted for was massively different from the one who left office 8 years later. Clinton massively changed his agenda from what he originally wanted, starting with his cave on gays in the military and signing DADT, all the way through DOMA (which he promoted on southern radio stations) and his obvious attempt to coddle white voters afraid of the “first black President” by attacking Sister Soulja while Jesse Jackson was in attendance.
He also did a lot of good, and knowing what I know now, I would still have voted for him over Bush or Dole. But I do think he gets to much of a slide from some Dems.
I agree with this. Clinton was the first president I voted for as well the second time he ran. After some some of the things he did, but he was the best choice and didn’t leave office with our country taking a nosedive into the shitter.
JMC in the ATL
@Angry Geometer: Hah, that was great. I love This Week In Blackness, but I wasn’t aware of the brunch hard movement. I’ve been told!
@Linda Featheringill: I have not experienced that one myself, but I love it.
aside: I left Atlanta in April and still need to find a new handle. Trading up to Austin has been life changing in all the best ways.
@Angry Black Lady:
My problem with your statement is that Obama isn’t just another black man. He’s the freaking president of the United States. He has the luxury to do whatever he wants, and all kinds of special burdens based on people’s perceptions of him.
I understand why some black people want to define Obama, or themselves, by some idea of limitation, by the notion of what he should or should not do. But this kind of thing is a waste of time.
And his biggest problem is that all kinds of folks can’t see Obama, but instead see the Negro in their own minds. Crazy ass conservatives see the stealth Muslim aristocrat Marxist. Some liberals, who believe that all blacks are born Democrat and liberal, keep waiting for Obama to bust out as a fire breathing progressive, despite everything that Obama said during the campaign, and during his presidency.
But since Obama cannot do anything about people’s fantasies, it would be pointless for him to attempt to either counter them or indulge them. He is president right now in part because he ignored all of the conventional wisdom as to why he could not possibly win. What’s the point of listening to the new conventional wisdom about why he cannot possibly govern?
Ultimately, it’s just a people thing. And yeah, while some people may be able to understand the nuances of a situation better than others, it has nothing to do with their ethnicity, gender, or sexuality.
Ehh.. What does that mean?
What I think some of you are not getting is that, there are moments when you can try to explain and contextualize things for people, but they will never understand. They won’t. They won’t try to be empathetic and even attempt to put themselves in your shoes: they refuse to. It’s nice to be charitable and everything, but sometimes, the dog won’t hunt. Life is only so long for everyone.
I could try to explain my atheist views on things further to my Adventist mom in the vain hope that she won’t bring up a bunch of non sequitur bullshit. A gay person could explain his or her sexuality to a devout Christian. I could explain what I suffer as a black woman and what my brothers suffer to some white guy utterly invested in believing that I’m whining and complaining and all of my problems are all my fault. Try explaining your liberal views to a run-of-the-mill Republican. 99% of the time, do you get anywhere? Nope. Isn’t it nigh-miraculous when you do? Of course. Hence the phrase. Most people live an average of 75 years. And most Americans are bred from birth to believe that empathy is not a virtue but a failing. I’m already on the wrong half of my mid-twenties. Flame wars only look productive. Hence the phrase.
I feel that Obama could’ve been a *tad* more combative. At least a *tad*; it would’ve been nice if last summer the healthcare dialogue wasn’t co-opted by [paid?] townhall whackos disingenuously freaking out over death panels. On the other hand, it would’ve been nice to not have seen Jane Hamsher try to ally with Grover Norquist like a spoiled child. That would’ve been great, too. I’m disappointed in how the whole “professional left” crack that Gibbs pulled months ago went. I mean, some of them deserved to be called on their shit, but at the same time, you get the feeling that, unless you’re a diehard supporter, and even if you are, because you’re not in the President’s immediate circle, your opinions aren’t important. I didn’t like Rahm Emmanuel calling them, and by extension, all of us, “fucking retards” and then, She Who Must Not Be Named raising an objection… against the word “retards.” Maybe I’m wrong on this, but…
It would be nice if someone would defend the Left for once, you know? You take a stand on something; someone comes out in public, not on a fucking blog, and supports you rather than mocks you for even caring. Why does American politics run itself like an extension of high school? I also find it greatly disturbing how much shit from conservatives Obama has to put up with all because he’s a black liberal who will acquiesce sometimes, but overall, won’t suck their balls. I was the bullied nerd in school, so.. I don’t get it.
It’s kind of sad that the most enduring accomplishments of the first two term Dem president since Lyndon Johnson ended up being…
3. Welfare Reform
“United States is in disarray, extremely polarized. It is practically a civil war there, and you can’t count on it.”
When you say that Obama doesn’t have the luxury to be angry, isn’t there an implied “without taking a lot of crap about it”? Of course Obama could be angry if he wanted to be, but if he does he will be compared with gangstas and the thugs we see on TV. But if anger is warranted, then maybe that’s a price worth paying. And would it truly be any worse than being called a secret Islamic jihadist?
I’m not black so I can’t say. But I have run into a somewhat parallel situation as a stay-at-home dad. It can be uncomfortable being a male member of the local “Moms’ Club”, and there’s a recent trend of seeing all men as potential child molesters (fortunately I’ve never been accused of that, even fleetingly, but it’s always in the back of my mind). Still, the way feminists broke down stereotypes was by going out and defying them, and when enough women became doctors and lawyers and priests and athletes and what have you, the old stereotypes started to wither into irrelevance, not because they were unfair but because they were absurd. Fighting male stereotypes isn’t quite as hard, perhaps, but I like to think I’m doing the same thing. So maybe Obama doesn’t have the luxury of being an angry black man: but how are black people ever going to acquire that luxury, if there aren’t people fighting the stereotype?
Just Some Fuckhead
It’s actually an Obot thing. No need to mother him.
@Jim, Foolish Literalist:
@JMC in the ATL:
Sorry, but you don’t have to be gay to understand that. Remember, homophobes and gay bashers throw “fag” around all over the place, irrespective of the target’s sexuality. You can very easily be a straight guy walking with a male friend at night and be almost run down by some douchebag who then screams “fag” at you as he drives off.
10+ years in San Francisco have taught me what it’s like to get hit on by a dude (fucking stupid pickup lines, that’s what.) And let me tell you, there are some unattractive flabby gay men out there who are assuming as much as their straight counterparts.
Ya know, when you get right down to it, I just don’t fucking care about this “fighting” point that has driven all complaints about Obama and Democrats. I don’t care about the theatrics of “fighting.” I think that when the majority party has rather substantive disagreements within itself about policy, strategy, and tactics, you’re _never_ going to see this carefully-coordinated “fighting” effort for which everybody seems to long.
And, frankly, it’s a cheap complaint about how things should _look_. Would looking like fighting really be better politically _for Democrats in general_? Or is it just a way for people who think of themselves as tough-minded liberals to see their best selves reflected back to them? (Markos Moulitsas is particularly guilty of this, I think.)
Look at what eco2geek posted above:
To me that suggests that “fighting,” or looking like fighting, is not even something that Democratic voters particularly want.
So I’m not wholly sold on the idea that Obama can’t look angry or like a fighter because of his skin color. I think that Democrats in general actually don’t particularly find brash fighters appealing. They find managerial competence appealing. I think the core complaint, such as it is, is more like “why don’t they get more done?” and much less “why don’t they fight harder for what they want?” They overlap, but the emphasis is on the former. And yet in the blogosphere and the punditocracy, the latter is by far the dominant line. I think it’s misplaced.
Usually, all I have to do is wait awhile, until Mr. Whig comes around and says what I think. I watch Obama all the time, and through his no drama personality, I receive no wishy washy vibes.
There is sometimes the hint of dread compromise, and sometimes I don’t agree with him on every instance he proposes or hints at willingness to compromise, but there is no weakness detected on my part. It is low key for sure, where whatever anger there is, is thoroughly articulated by a very smart fellow indeed, matter of fact like. Just a solid individual I see, almost always, who gets his point across without a Bushian smirk, or frown, or barely decipherable article of petulance, of my way or the highway decider grade bullshit.
Some folks miss that about Bush, and some on the left seem to long for such neanderthalian presence to make them feel like Obama is making them feel all warm and fuzzy like, full of spinach and muscle, they may well lack in themselves, I suspect.
I don’t get it, but then maybe I do.
Yes, we know.
Well, I’ll tell you… “It’s a black thing, you wouldn’t understand” can range from a joke to infuriating.
But you know when I think it’s most useful? When it’s sufficiently accurate to be true. When it’s shorthand for “Look, friend, I’ve *tried* explaining it to folks like you, a dozen times or more; I’ve seen others try to explain it to folks like you. And I’ve seen folks like you listen. And sometimes, they’re listening in an adversarial manner; sometimes, they’re earnestly ‘concerned’ just like you. And I’ve seen what happens afterward. Trust me. You won’t understand.”
Because then it can be that bit of a challenge, like the math teacher who says “No one in this class will solve this problem. But, X points of extra credit to anyone who can.”
There’s a bit of “I want to prove that person *wrong*.”
@Corner Stone: Well, can we at least complain about effectiveness without making this essentially facile and pseudo-macho point about “strength” and “fighting” and “leadership”? Can we at least say, “I don’t like that he hasn’t gotten X done” instead of “He hasn’t gotten X done because he’s a wuss”? Because otherwise it just comes down to this cargo cult kind of thinking where all you have to do is do the right rituals in the right order and, having propitiated the political gods, you just automatically get stuff.
@FlipYrWhig: I don’t think you’ve ever seen me say I consider the President weak or a wuss or anything of the sort. Because I do not.
The general “we” or general “you” may choose to fool themselves into arguing that the D’s or the President does things due to weakness.
But ISCTM that no matter how many times you specifically protest you are “really” to the left of just about everyone here, you seem to always find a way to justify outcomes that can not be considered beneficial to a large group of people nominally to the left of center.
In fact, I can’t recall any action taken, or not taken, in the last two years that you haven’t been just fine with, or reasoned away as inevitable due to one existential circumstance or another.
When serious, it’s a means of exclusion in order to insulate oneself from having to deal with another person.
I don’t know what you expect from Moore and Maher. They are entertainers. Maher is a comedian, and Moore makes shallow infotainment he calls documentaries (which is really funny, so he’s a comedian, too). More than that, they are very successful. While they may try to represent social democracy or rational politics, they are definitely going to play to their biggest fan base, even if it means endless fart jokes.
if it’s such a fine political strategy, then the alternative outcome would have had to be worse, and it’s hard to see how that would be possible.
Three words: lose the Senate. That that passed right by you tells us all we need to know about your sense of political strategy.
I hope the Republicans enjoy this partial and incomplete victory, because given the way they’re offending all the rising demographic groups, it could be the last one they have for a very long time.
@sunsin: If we don’t have under 6% U3 in 2012 we will lose the Senate. Demographics aren’t changing fast enough for us to defend all the 23 D seats up for election against about 10 (IIRC) R Senate seats at risk.
So yeah, seems alternatives would be a good thing to evaluate at this point. Or at some point.
Depends on what you mean by “justify.” I think I approach current events in two ways:
(1) Is there a reason why someone would do something that looks so stupid?
(2) Is an imperfect policy the best that we can get?
I have left sympathies but don’t expect anything like what I want to ever come to pass. So I’m a lot more interesting in talking about why we’re seeing what we’re seeing than stroking myself over what I want to see or over how bad-ass I am for being disappointed by not seeing what I want to see. It’s easy to claim to be a radical when you’re not at all concerned about praxis. We’ve been over this before.
I had typed up a fairly long response to this but decided it was irrelevant. You’re always going to answer “Yes” to question number 2 while this administration is in office.*
Your two questions predispose you toward acceptance.
*And I’m not going to get started on your use of the word “imperfect” to frame the question.
I’d really like to know, what do you expect him to say about Republican obstruction? Do you really think he has no idea that they are after him and is living in some happy land? With very little respect, WTF do you expect him to say in front of the press, “These guys are asshats and thanks for making my goddam day harder by putting them in office”? This armchair quarterbacking is foolish. If you really think he’s that bloody naive, then I can’t see thinking he’s a decent president.
I, a young white woman, would definitely have reacted badly to those statements had I been watching. I have no way of knowing if I would have reacted in exactly the same way you did, but I do think I have a fairly decent grasp on this sort of nuance.
I’m not sure there’s a particular, singular experience that helped me grow into that kind of perception; it was kind of more my whole life, starting from my middle school/high school’s aggressive policy of anti-racist education and more or less culminating in my feminist awakening during my second year of college. I think as I became more highly educated and more exposed to some of the (admittedly sometimes really abstract and woo-woo) scholarship in these areas–and as I got more familiar with a lot of the relevant blogging scene–I was able to articulate and understand more clearly things I had always known weren’t quite right.
Whether taking ownership of an experience is a cop-out I think really depends on a lot of things. I think that needs to be an available option because insisting on and crediting different kinds of experience is so important, and because people shouldn’t have to educate others on privilege and/or bigotry and so on day in and day out–it should be possible to opt out of that when it’s futile or just too exhausting. At the same time, what definitely IS a cop-out is challenging people to see these nuances better in the time-honored format of shit-starting (this used to happen sometimes between students of different races in my high school after we had one diversity assembly or another) and then refusing to follow through or finish what you started because the person you’re talking to “just will never understand.”