Welcome to Operation Reach B.L.A.C.K.

Operation Reach B.L.A.C.K. is a Pan-African Blog with an acronym that stands for Building Leadership Awareness and Cultural Knowledge.

The goal of this blog is to become a "Blog of Black Thought" focusing on matters of social, economic and political awareness through education (re-education), self-affirmation and cultural expression. Above all, this blog will DEMAND respect and appreciation for one another as black men and women.

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(Opinions, Observations, and Commentary)

Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Mr. Obama . . . You Did What You Had To Do

Senator Obama finds his voice . . .

It echoed from New Hampshire to Nevada . . . it grabbed hold of women voters . . . Hillary had found her voice. Speak to many Clinton supporters and you’ll get the sense that some (including the Clintons themselves) feel an entitlement to the Presidency. They’ll rave about 35 years of experience, glancing over the fact that Ms. Clinton spent roughly twenty of those years as the first lady of Arkansas and then as the first lady of the United States. Hillary has been the clear front runner ever since rumors of her run began circulating back in 2004. But for one moment, perhaps a strand of four or five days after Obama’s historic Iowa Caucus victory, Hillary Rodham Clinton got to feel what it’s like to be the underdog. The pundits considered her dead. Ms. Clinton was old news and the media seemed poised to pass the political torch to Barack Obama.

But campaigns are fickle by nature. You can be riding a wave of excitement one day only to crash and drown the next. So when all seemed lost; when rumors said the Clintons were due to shake up their staff, concede Nevada and South Carolina and try to resurrect their campaign in time for Super Tuesday, Hillary Clinton did something that turned the race on its head . . . she “found her voice.”

Of course, Senator Clinton’s newfound introspection came at the prospect of seeing her political aspirations go down the drain. Her near-tear moment in New Hampshire supposedly showed a softer, more sincere Clinton who wept out of exhaustion for a country she loved so dear. At least that was the spin. However, read the actual text of what she said behind those "tears." "I have so many opportunities from this country, and I just don't want to see us fall backwards."

Well, what did she mean by "falling backwards"? One only had to listen just a few more seconds to get a clearer understanding of Clinton’s disposition. “Some of us are right some of us are wrong . . . Some of us are ready, and some of us are not. Some of us know what we’ll do on day one and some of us don’t.”

In the tradition of hardball politics Ms. Clinton “found her voice” by realizing an effective strategy to attack the hope and inspiration of the Obama campaign. Hillary laid the seeds of doubt while her surrogates (chief amongst them being her husband, PRESIDENT Bill Clinton) proceeded to define Barack Obama as too good to be true. And a good dose of coded, racially charged language never hurts now does it? In essence, “falling backwards” meant "rolling the dice" for a man (a kid/boy), perhaps an “imaginary hip black friend,” who's trying to "shuck and jive" his way to the White House. And don’t forget Obama’s history with drugs . . . I mean, one might ask if he was ever drug dealer, right? P.S. Obama might really be one of them Muslim people. But hey, Hillary never played the race card did she? In the words of her husband, “Give me a break. This is the biggest fairytale I’ve ever heard.”

Hillary’s tears were tears of frustration. It was almost as though she wanted to say, “It’s not fair, this is MY TIME. How could I be loosing to this rookie?” Yes, despite the spin, Hillary got emotional BECAUSE SHE THOUGHT SHE WAS GOING TO LOSE.

Senator Clinton successfully changed the storyline of the 2008 Presidential Race. If Obama was going to give us hope, the Clintons were going to give us a “reality check.” Senator Clinton found her voice alright. And that newfound voice came in the form of former president, Bill Clinton. That newfound voice came in the form of the same tired, regurgitated, predictable gotcha politics that we’ve grown so accustom to over the last two presidencies. The word splicing; the double speech; and the coded language came back like a time warp to 1998. Gutter politics. Say something long enough and people begin to believe it out of habit. The strategy was clear. Say whatever you have to say in order to get elected now . . . apologize profusely later.

But campaigns move in ebbs and flows. And, amidst the low blows and unsubstantiated accusations of the Clinton campaign, Obama just might have found a way to take back some much needed momentum to get the electorate to view Senator Clinton in a new, less favorable light.

In a political world driven by media perception and spin; where a solid one-liner is often five times more affective than a solid stump speech, Barack Obama finally “found his voice.” Not a voice of passion or conviction – that was never his problem. Obama’s message of hope has resonated with voters from the beginning. No, the voice that I speak of is his voice of frustration.

Defending himself against charges and implications of everything from being a closet Regan supporter to allowing the sexual victimization of women (yes, Ms. Clinton did go that low), Obama repeatedly ran into the same wall that has thrown his campaign off message for the past two weeks – Hillary’s plausible deniability. Obama would bring up a misstatement (umm, lie) by the Clinton campaign. Senator Clinton would simply smile and deny accountability, saying that she was her own person and, therefore, could not be held responsible for the words of her husband.

But it finally happened. Perhaps scripted, perhaps a sincere cry of frustration, Senator Obama finally spoke out at Monday night’s debate and said what many of us have been thinking for a long time now. “I can’t tell who I’m running against sometimes.”

For a man of many words with a professorial background, Obama finally found that illusive five second sound bite that sticks. That one statement speaks both to the need for change as well as the hopes millions of people have for something different in Washington.

Just who is Barack Obama running against? Make no mistake about it, Barack is running against the Brand X of the Democratic Party. The fact of the matter is that the Clintons have been selling a two-for-one blue light special ever since Hillary decided to run. Therefore, it is disingenuous for Senator Clinton to claim a vast array of experience on one hand while ignoring her husband’s influence on the other. Even more, if Hillary speaks of the successes of the Clinton Administration, then she’d better be prepared to accept fault for the emotional, psychological and political inertia that came with every Clinton scandal; every policy shift to the right (e.g., DOMA, Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, Welfare Reform, etc.). And it is Obama’s duty, as an agent of change, to remind the voters of just how TIRED the alternative truly is.

This was discussed today on MSNBC’s Tucker Carlson (yeah, not normally my cup of tea, but insightful nonetheless). Obama has found the pitch, now he needs to go door to door and make the sale. If Senator Clinton tries to trumpet the success of the Clinton 90s then Obama must also force her to take blame for CLINTON FATIGUE. Obama began to tap into this with his statement at last night’s debate.

It’s time for Obama’s endorsers to take a stronger stance in his campaign. Too often, Obama gets portrayed as an ideal. We’re missing the mark. If I were running his campaign, I wouldn’t portray him as an ideal (that was accomplished in Iowa), I’d try to portray him as the future of the Democratic Party. A future that only Bill and Hillary Clinton want to keep from happening; and they’re willing to hurt the Democratic Party if it means winning. I’d trot out every disenchanted Democratic congressman and congresswoman who ever got the Clinton cold shoulder. I would stake Obama’s campaign, not only in the hope for change, but also in the fierce urgency of now (what ever happened to that anyways?). Old habits die hard and, for many disaffected Democrats, the Clintons are an old habit that needs to be broken.

So with that bit of frustration, Obama reminded many of us that he is not just running against Hillary Clinton. He is running against a former president of the United States . . . he is running against that president’s legacy . . . he is running against that very Democratic establishment, which the Clintons built and solidified over the past 15+ years. Obama is running AGAINST a brand name. Juxtapose that to Senator Clinton who is running ON a brand name.

Ms. Clinton gets a boost from name recognition. She gets a boost from her husband’s popularity. She gets a boost for nostalgia’s sake. She gets a boost from the Clinton machinery. She gets a boost from the Democratic establishment. Indeed, Senator Clinton likely goes to bed every night comforted by the fact that her name and image is probably worth at least 20% of the Democratic vote right off the bat.

So, in closing, I pose the following questions about the Clinton campaign:

If you had one vote to make, would you rather vote for Bill Clinton OR Hillary Clinton?

If her supporter/surrogates had but one candidate to back, would they back Bill Clinton OR Hillary Clinton?

Would the vast majority of Hillary Clinton’s supporters still support her if they only knew her as Hillary Rodham INSTEAD of Hillary Rodham CLINTON?

What special privileges, access and influence will Bill have as a former President that are not afforded to your average first spouse? And how will that affect communication between the White House and the American people?

Are we supposed to believe that Bill will be sitting around the White House all day? What happens if Bill, as a former President with deeper connections, has more influence than Hillary? What happens if they disagree on foreign policy? Will Hillary be able to get foreign leaders to ignore Bill and listen to her?

What purpose would our Vice President and Secretary of State have if everyone knows that Bill has more sway and control than either of them? What good is having a chain of command when everybody knows that Bill is second (if not first) in command? How might that power be abused?

Are we ready for 4-8 more years of a secretive Administration that thrives off of plausible deniability? I can see it now . . . I didn’t say we should bomb Iran, my husband did.

Are we ready for 4-8 more years of the exact same partisan fighting that we’ve had for the past 2 decades?

Can we do better than Bush/Clinton?

Finally, how democratic is it . . . how inspiring is it . . . how inclusive is it to have the United States of America run by two dynastic families? I am 26 years old. My entire political life has been run by Bushes and Clintons (I was too young to remember Reagan – thankfully). I am sick and tired of the Bush/Clinton Whitehouse. It is precisely this routine, politics as usual reality that turns people away from the voting booths and convinces millions of people that we can only be spectators in our democracy.

I guess I’ll leave on that note. Mr. Obama did what he had to do last night. Did he take a hit on his squeaky clean image? Perhaps. Did John Edwards do a better job at rising above the frey? Absolutely. But if Obama is to take that next step towards defeating the establishment (a step that insurgent candidates rarely ever see), then he must first give voice to the frustration of change. He must articulate the exact reason why so many of us want change. In a world of consumer politics Obama must ask whether a vote for Hillary is a vote for her or a vote for Brand Clinton? There are other choices on the shelf.

Be Somebody,





Video: Perspective Piece