Ta-Nehisi Coates is a senior editor at The Atlantic, where he writes about culture, politics, and social issues. He is the author of the memoir The Beautiful Struggle. More
Born in 1975, the product of two beautiful parents. Raised in West Baltimore -- not quite The Wire, but sometimes ill all the same. Studied at the Mecca for some years in the mid-'90s. Emerged with a purpose, if not a degree. Slowly migrated up the East Coast with a baby and my beloved, until I reached the shores of Harlem. Wrote some stuff along the way.
Yeah, I said it. It was always, to me, the only cringe-worthy portion of Obama's otherwise incredible oratory. But now that's its been made into a song featuring the likes of poser-in-chief Will.I.AM., well you can see it for yourself. Bullshit sentiment isn't what makes Obama a bad mo-fo. Furthermore, bullshit sentimentality isn't any better than the bullshit cynicism that the Clinton's have been shoveling. Okay enough. Rant off.
Here's Adam Nagourney on Super Tuesday. Decent roubdup. But it amazes me how reporters buy bullshit if you just say it enough times:
And the final big question for Democrats: Will Mrs. Clinton maintain the edge among Latino voters that she showed in Florida and Nevada? New York and California should offer an interesting test, as well as of whether blacks and Latinos, uneasy political allies in many circumstances, break for different candidates.
First, no one competed in Florida. Clinton's name was the only one on the ballot--how did she "maintain the edge" in a state where whe was the only one running? Second, the blacks and Latinos as "uneasy political allies" is just bullshit. Where is this uneasiness? For that matter, where are the alliances? Say it with me children: Motherfuckers vote their interest. Motherfuckers vote thier interests. ALL POLITICAL ALLIANCES ARE UNEASY. It's politics fools.
And like I've been saying for the past few days, well not saying more like posting, Barack is motivating out in Cali. Nationally it's looking like a dead heat. It's pretty amazing watching this dude. I say that win or loose. I mean he's really going punch for punch with the Clinton machine. It's looking like Ali v. Frazier I.
Katha Pollit, amongst others, goes for our boy Barack.
I always felt Obama would make a really good president, but I was not prepared to consider the fact that he's actually a great politician. I present for the court, Exhibit A. Obama is now up in delegate-rich California. Consider that only a week ago, fools were saying that Obama would get blown out because Latinos would resent a black president. We don't have an ethnic breakdown in the poll, but let's be clear--black folks make up only ten, or so, percent of Cali's population. If Obama wins there, it's a huge statement.
When last we saw Melissa Harris-Lacewell she was administering a critical beatdown to Gloria Steinem. I actually couldn't watch at one point. It was like watching Holmes v Ali or Marciano v Louis. Steinem was a warrior in her day, but damn, it just felt like Melissa was there to just remind her how time had passed her by. Frankly I prefer to remember Gloria Steinem, in the words of the immortal W. Paul Coates, thusly
Note how I turn any presumably substantive discussion into a Stephen Colbert reference. Seriously though, Harris-Lacewell makes a good point noting that mo-fos have basically just forgotten Katrina and N-O. The Essence:
Katrina captured everything the Democrats are supposed to be good at: environmental degradation, racial injustice, urban poverty and Southern exceptionalism. But Dems have done little more than exploit the political opening that Katrina provided.
Okay, I agree with this and the basic thrust of the post. I think though, as in so many cases with black folks, there are just limits to what we can achieve through electoral politics. Putting the incompotent Ray Nagin back in power doesn't help. That's not an excuse for federal inaction, I'm just sayin dog! Anyway, my larger point is that black folks are, and will be for the near future, a somewhat despised minority in this country. Throw in the basic American belief in self-reliance, and you start to see that the chances of the Feds--even the Barack led Feds--doing the right thing are simply not that good. This is the Bill Cosby in me, but I think it's true. We have to start thinking of other resources we can leverage to change shit.
I gotta say that I really ID with this post over at TNR. Richard Stern is basically trying to work through the 180 he's experiencing watching the former President turn hachetman. Stern explains how much of a fan he'd been of Clinton for years, and then talks about a shift. The Essence:
Now in the winter of 2008, Clinton’s speeches for his wife and against Barack Obama have infuriated me. They have the simplistic, insinuatingly suggestive stupidity he used to counter. They are devious in the way his accusers accused him of being. They are mean-spirited in an “I-don’t-give-a-damn-about-anything-else” mode, “anything else” standing for the Democratic Party and whoever becomes its candidate. He black-baits as if an older, meaner Arkansas voice was let loose in him; he distorts Obama’s remarks about Republicans and Reagan as if he were the liar the impeachment-mad Republicans claimed he was.
You know when the whole impeachment drama was going on, a lot of libs and lefties like me could be caught saying "WTF it's just sex??" That's not a comment on the immense sympathy I felt for Hillary, but more on the impeachment. But I think there is something to be said for the fact--and I know some said this at the time--that this dude was basically willing to put the whole progressive agenda in jeopardy so that he could get blown. My point is this "I don't give a damn about anything else" Bill isn't really new at all. The real question is why did we miss it before?
There were conservatives who held a special hatred for Clinton which, they claimed, went beyond politics. I know I was quick to dismiss most of that talk and think that they would hate any liberal president. I still don't know enough about that era to judge. But I think party-loyalty, coupled with Clinton's amazing political gifts made it really hard in that time to come down on him. Of course there were those who knew.
Pretty thin article detailing the historical relationship between black folks and Clinton. The piece got off to good start, but then it just devolves into calls to a bunch of black people who've known Hillary over the years. The Essence:
She took a sociology course at Wellesley College that included a trip through Boston’s poor areas. On Tuesdays, she went to a housing project in Cambridge to mentor “underprivileged Negroes,” as she wrote to Don Jones, her minister back home, who had taken her to hear the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak in Chicago four years earlier.
Haha. I love "underprivileged Negroes." It's a quote from the time, so I'm not beating her up for it. But that's funny. Come on, you know you were laughing
Chris Hayes goes at it full-bore. The Essence:
Whoever is elected in November, progressives will probably find themselves feeling frustrated. Ultimately though, the future judgments and actions of the candidates are unknowable, obscured behind time's cloak. Who knew that the Bill Clinton of 1992 who campaigned with Nelson Mandela would later threaten to sanction South Africa when it passed a law allowing the production of low-cost generic AIDS drugs for its suffering population--or that the George W. Bush of 2000, an amiable "centrist" whose thin foreign-policy views shaded toward isolationism, would go on to become a self-justifying, delusional and messianic instrument of global war? In this sense, Bill Clinton is right: voting for and electing Barack Obama is a "roll of a dice." All elections are. But the candidacy of Barack Obama represents by far the left's best chance to, in Buchanan's immortal phrasing, take back the bigger half of the country. It's a chance we can't pass up.
We know how progressives fared under Clintonism: they were the bloodied limbs left in the trap. Clintonism, in other words, is the devil we know
True that. The irony of the Clintons is that for all the partisan hostility they inspired, they have never been flaming leftists. It's really difficult for me to see myself backing someone who, as one person put it (can't remember who, Johnathan Chait maybe?), is basically playing between the two 49 yard lines, and yet inspires the full fury of the opposing team. It's pretty amazing when you think about it--for all the Clinton's moderation and overtures toward the other side, they are still absolutely reviled. I don't think Hillary could compete in a single state below the Mason-Dixon line. Obama can't win states in the deep south--but he could take Virginia, for instance. I could see him threatening in Kansas or Missouri. I just don't see the same with Hillary.
The consensus seems to be Obama took it. A lot of folks have been cynical about the "play nice" atmosphere. I kinda enjoyed it. Anyway hear we go. Sullivan thought Obama won. He's hates Hillary's guts, but in general he's always said that she's been the better debater. Dickerson over at Slate calls it tie, noting that both candidates got their rocks off. Ambinder gives a slight edge to Barack on account of his anti-war cred. And John Nichols makes the case that Hill and Bama should team up. Don't know how I feel about that one. But overall, I thought both candidates acquitted themselves well. I waould go with Dickerson and call it a draw.
But I thought this would be a good time to link to one of the great spoofs of all time. Enjoy.
I've been of mixed mines about Bob Herbert. It's great that he's on his beat, but I generally don't enjoy columnists (well a couple), so I don't know what to say. Anyway this is sad. Gawker finds Herbert plagarizing himself. The Essence:
We may have Two Americas, but Bob Herbert has only one stock description of the crappy public schools.
We're gaining on you. The Essence:
Black and Hispanic children have made significant gains in health, safety and income over the past two decades, narrowing gaps between them and white children, according to a pioneering report on child development to be released Tuesday.
Speaks for itself. Sharpton is actually quite engaging here. But that was never his problem.
Bill, that is. Very nice piece. Not based on arm-chair theory, or bullshit psychoanalysis. The essence:
Who can say what Clinton’s effect on the campaign trail really is? However much journalistic critics and Obama supporters cringed at Bill Clinton’s performances, they seemed to help Hillary Clinton in New Hampshire and Nevada.
But those experiences seemed to unleash something more antic and unruly in Clinton’s attacks on Obama and the media, making the Clinton campaign even more about him and less about her. The effect was a bit like a dieter who reads on the Internet that doughnuts are actually good for you.
So tarring Obama with Farrakhan had no effect. Now Richard Cohen passive-aggressively puts his hopes in the racism of white people. Cohen argues that Obama "played the race card" by labeling Clinton's comments about King as "ill-advised." The very putrid essence:
The turning point for Obama actually came in New Hampshire, when Hillary Clinton said that Martin Luther King's "dream began to be realized when President Lyndon Johnson passed the Civil Rights Act of 1964." This, of course, only reflected historical reality and was, moreover, a slap not at King, but at Johnson's predecessor, John F. Kennedy, to whom Obama is often compared. (Both Caroline Kennedy and her uncle, Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, have since endorsed Obama.)
Possibly we shall someday learn that Hillary Clinton's remark was diabolically intended to offend blacks. I doubt it. Whatever the case, though, some important African-Americans quickly reacted -- and the Democratic primary campaign was never again the same. Not only did the Clintons not back off, but they seemed to savor the moment. As for Obama, instead of adroitly taking the sting out of what Hillary Clinton had said by shrugging it off, he called her comments "unfortunate" and "ill-advised."
The upshot was the racially divided vote we saw in South Carolina, one Bill Clinton immediately likened to Jesse Jackson's victories in 1984 and '88 -- in other words, yet another asterisk, a race-based triumph and therefore of negligible importance. Obama won big, bigger than expected. But a lot of his margin came from African-Americans, particularly, and unexpectedly, women, many of whom were supposedly in Hillary Clinton's corner. He got about 80 percent of the black vote.
Witness a columnist breathlessly filling inches. First of all, the idea that "the Dream" wasn't realized until Johnson is--racist or not--just wrong. Did Brown v. Board not happen? Was the Mongotmery bus boycott just erased from history? Was Hartsfield not the mayor of Atlanta? This is not a slight to Johnson--he bravely sacrificed the future of the Democratic party for the future of the country. But he isn't the start of the realization of "the Dream." In fact, "the Dream" was well in motion before King ever even made his speech.
But moreover, this idea that somehow Barack winning the black vote is ultimately a minus is complete bullshit. I remember this time last year when pundits were crowing about it being a problem that black people seemed to favor Clinton. I am sorry, a win is a fucking win. The idea that whites will reflexively flee Obama because he called a Clinton comment "ill-advised," and because a lot of black people like him is a cynical, unprovable assertion. We have no way of knowing whether it's true.
Furthermore, South Carolina's primary was only racially divided because Edwards and Clinton did so poorly among blacks, not because Obama did so poorly among whites. Barack got a quarter of the white vote, and basically tied Clinton for white men. Where he really lost was among white women--but that has more to do with Clinton's status as an important first, than any sense that Obama had morphed into Marcus Garvey.
TNR does the knowledge on Bill and blacks. The essence:
Back in 1992, the Clintons were decidedly not heroes to black America. Bill ran on a platform of welfare reform. He was tough on crime, and some felt he gratuitously supported the execution of the brain-damaged African American killer Ricky Ray Rector on the eve of the New Hampshire primary. When Clinton scolded the obscure rapper Sister Souljah at a meeting of Jesse Jackson Sr.'s Rainbow Coalition, Jackson called it a "Machiavellian" gambit for white votes. That fall, Clinton carried 82 percent of the black vote--a low sum compared to other Democratic nominees. (In 1988, for instance, Mike Dukakis carried 89 percent of the black electorate.)
Yeah basically, except a lot of black people were down with welfare reform and criminal crackdowns. I'm not sure that hurt Bill so much. Besides Gore got more of the black vote than Bill, but I wouldn't say blacks liked Gore more. All that said, I agree with the basic assertion. Black people's affection for Clinton has long been overstated.
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Pardon my French
As a candidate, Barack Obama said we needed to reckon with race and with America’s…