DATELINE: Wednesday, 25 June 2008
By BAR editor and senior columnist Margaret Kimberley
BARACK OBAMA IS COMING OUT OF THE CORPORATE CLOSET— in an unseemly rush! Having finally made his nomination inevitable, the Democratic standard bearer-to-be is going public with what was also inevitable: a full unveiling of his pro-business, pro-imperial, don’t-give-a-damn about Black folks policies. Yet Obama’s free pass remains in effect in Black America, where he “is held to no standard at all.” With nearly five months of campaigning to go, Blacks and progressives are surely in for many more bitter disappointments. “Obama has gotten away with making a 180 degree turn because he is now the only Democratic game in town.”
“Obama is held to no standard at all.”
• Give AIPAC everything they want and then some. Check.
• Slander black men. Check.
• Continue illegal government surveillance. Check.
• Surrender to telecom lobbyists. Check.
• Endorse conservative white Congressman against black progressive challenger. Check.
As soon as Hillary Clinton ended her battle for the nomination, Barack Obama discarded his well marketed image as a “change agent” and showed his true colors. No longer in competition for Democratic support, he threw off the already thin veneer of a progressive politician. In just two weeks he has given a clear indication of where he stands on a variety of issues, and the news is not good.
Barack Obama isn’t even president yet, but he has informed anyone who is paying attention that there will be no change at all in the way Washington’s politics are conducted. He has also made it clear that there will be change for black people in the political process, but it won’t be for the better.
Perhaps Hillary Clinton can be persuaded to resume her campaign. While she was still in the hunt, Obama obscured his true agenda with occasional nods to good politics, but only because he was forced to fight for progressive Democratic support. Consider his flip flop on legislation that legalized domestic spying. In October 2007 an Obama spokesperson made this unequivocal statement. “To be clear: Barack will support a filibuster of any bill that includes retroactive immunity for telecommunications companies.”
“Obama has gotten away with making a 180 degree turn.”
Fast forward to June 2008, and the Democratic leadership decision to give President Bush everything he wants on government surveillance, including giving immunity to telecoms who conducted illegal surveillance. All pretense was gone. “So I support the compromise… ” Obama claims he will work to remove the provision granting immunity to law breakers, but the fact remains that Obama has gotten away with making a 180 degree turn because he is now the only Democratic game in town.
The treachery didn’t stop with illegal government surveillance. Regina Thomas is a black State Senator in Georgia, running in a Democratic primary against white conservative Congressman John Barrow. Obama recently endorsed Barrow and recorded a radio ad in support of his campaign.
Thomas had this to say about Obama’s endorsement of her opponent. “That’s the best thing that happened to me! People are angry about this! Here’s a man who has not served his district, and Obama is messing in our local business.”
It isn’t clear if Thomas is whistling past the graveyard or if she is indeed getting more support in her race as a result of Obama’s newsworthy but shady politics. In any case, the story of Thomas and Barrow is just the latest in a long list of events that should have been scandals.
Worse than Obama moving to the right of Bush on Israel, worse than publicly diminishing all black men, worse than backing a pro-war candidate over a true progressive, is the continued silence and acquiescence of the black community.
“The level of loyalty directed towards Obama defies logic.”
Millions of people have deliberately made their needs subservient to those of a politician who cares nothing about them. The damage done by Jim Crow, America’s apartheid, is never ending. The desire to see a black face in a high place is an understandable one after so many decades of exclusion, but it is still dangerous to accept this misguided concept.
The natural outcome of misplaced race pride is self-abnegation. The level of loyalty directed towards Obama defies logic, and creates expectations that are ridiculously low. If John Kerry had called adult black men boys or stepped into a primary to endorse a white candidate or a black one, he could not have expected to receive any black support.
Obama is held to no standard at all. He is free to do exactly as he pleases to black people, who are all too happy to go along with any treatment that he chooses to mete out. This sorry state of affairs is the result of years of black political inaction and misleadership. The Congressional Black Caucus long ago gave up the fight, the movement that gave black Americans full citizenship rights has been derided as a relic from a past age, instead of being seen as a blueprint for present day action. It is little wonder that the Obama campaign “come-to-Jesus” meeting is considered a substitute for true political organizing.
“Black folks are all too happy to go along with any treatment that Obama chooses to mete out.”
Not only is it too late to keep Obama honest, but it is also too late to keep the rest of black America honest. The sight of Barack and Michelle dancing at an inaugural ball is enough to keep the masses happy. Fighting this new opiate of the people will be hard, mostly because the people don’t want a fight, not even on their own behalf.
The naysayers have been proven right, and more so than even they suspected. “If Obama were already president, dissidents would have cause to shop for a safehouse or foreign getaway.” If the first two weeks of Obama’s leadership are any indication, those dissidents will have to speed up their schedules for departure.
Margaret Kimberley’s Freedom Rider column appears weekly in BLACK AGENDA REPORT. Ms. Kimberley lives in New York City, and can be reached via e-Mail at Margaret.Kimberley@BlackAgendaReport.Com. Ms. Kimberley maintains an edifying and frequently updated blog at freedomrider.blogspot.com. More of her work is also available at her Black Agenda Report archive page.