Sunday, June 10, 2012

President Obama is still a black man

Often Charles P. Pierce's fulminations at Esquire are too over the top for me. But in this campaign commentary he catches something all of us chatterers too easily gloss over about the strange and not-always-happy Obama presidency,. Emphasis mine.

… In many ways, this president reminds me of the truck drivers in The Wages of Fear, trying to get the nitroglycerine over the mountains with[out] blowing themselves all to hell and gone. In so many ways, he is still outside of things. In so many ways, he is still the flyer the Democratic party took in 2008. In so many ways, the path he has to walk to re-election is similar to the path he has had to walk through his life. It was hard not to notice the subtext present in all those earnest warnings about hurting the fee-fees of our financial titans. The president was stepping out of his place. The president was being uppity again.

This is also the case with what is perhaps the most noxious idea out there: that Barack Obama "failed" in his promise to "bring the country together," and that he is now — Glorioski! — campaigning like he wants to be president all over again. He is engaging in politics. Mother of mercy, I swear David Brooks is just going to break down and go all to pieces on PBS some evening over the president’s betrayal of his role as the country’s anodyne black man and, of course, his upcoming role as black martyr to incivility and discord. It is his duty, dammit, to be all the things that people like Brooks wanted him to be so that he could lose, nobly, and then the country could go back to its rightful owners.

The event of him is still remarkable. The idea that Americans elected a black man to be its president 40 years after it declined to allow Martin Luther King, Jr. to stand on a balcony without getting shot still maintains its power to awe and inspire. Of course, he can't make full use of that, either, because, as we know, by virtue of his very election, race is no longer an issue in this country. But the rest of us can make of it what we will. There was in his cautious, no-drama campaign a sense that you could get in on the making of history again. It's time for Barack Obama to be as bold as he wants the rest of the country to be. If the path is narrow, you might as well run as walk.

Race still matters. Don't let anyone tell you it doesn't. Maybe someday it won't, but that time is not now, not this year.

1 comment:

Classof65 said...

I tend to forget that Obama is black. Funny, I just think of him as a man of principles, intelligence, compassion and good sense. Why cannot others see beyond skin color? Would that we had thousands of men just like him! I think we expect too much from Obama. We want him to be strong and aggressive, yet calm and good-natured. He is all those things and more, but still he does not please everyone. I pray that he will be re-elected and, if he is not, I'm afraid that this country is doomed.