One of the important things about history is that it reminds us that there isn’t much that is really new. In that vein, President Obama (and all of us) should check out a speech given by Franklin Roosevelt in 1937 – it could have been written tomorrow. Meanwhile Rodeo Rick Perry, the erstwhile governor of Texas and now a contender for the presidential nomination of the G.O.Tea Party has been running around the country with his mouth ‘a blazing. I don’t think that it will be too long before he shoots himself in the foot while trying to put it in his mouth. Finally, I am assuming that the Barnum & Bailey Circus has imposed a hiring freeze. That is the only explanation for Dr. West and Mr. Smiley running around America like a bunch of clowns on their “Speaking Truth to Empower” sham of a tour. Where’s the delete button when you really need it?
Wise Words to the Wise
The deluge of hate, calumny and rage that has poured upon Barack Obama since he became President of the United States is not without precedent. Historians refer to the presidency of Abraham Lincoln for an analogy but 74 years ago Franklin Roosevelt was the object of furious opposition to the change that he advocated and articulated. President Obama would do well to consider the following:
“For twelve years this Nation was afflicted with hear-nothing, see-nothing, do-nothing Government. The Nation looked to Government but the Government looked away. Nine mocking years with the golden calf and three long years of the scourge! Nine crazy years at the ticker and three long years in the breadlines! Nine mad years of mirage and three long years of despair! Powerful influences strive today to restore that kind of government with its doctrine that that Government is best which is most indifferent………………..For nearly four years you have had an Administration which instead of twirling its thumbs has rolled up its sleeves. We will keep our sleeves rolled up…………….We had to struggle with the old enemies of peace‹business and financial monopoly, speculation, reckless banking, class antagonism, sectionalism, war profiteering…………………They had begun to consider the Government of the United States as a mere appendage to their own affairs. We know now that Government by organized money is just as dangerous as Government by organized mob.
Never before in all our history have these forces been as united against one candidate as they stand today. They are unanimous in their hate for me and I welcome their hatred.”
It’s pretty amazing that these words, spoken 74 years ago, could be spoken by President Obama tomorrow with incredible accuracy and relevance. Perhaps it is time for an encore.
You have to hand it to Rick Perry – the man certainly knows how to make an entrance. In his first week as an official presidential candidate he managed to question whether President Obama “loves America”. Presumably Governor Perry’s love for America is a fact of nature.
He also contended that the monetary policies of Federal Reserve Chairman Ben Bernanke were “treasonous”. He went even further, darkly muttering that Chairman Bernanke would get treated “pretty ugly” if he ever came to Texas. Many will recall that the last prominent federal official to be treated “pretty ugly” in Texas was John F. Kennedy, making Perry’s remarks all the more awful.
Just getting warmed up, Rodeo Rick said at a New Hampshire campaign stop that evolution was a theory “with a lot of gaps”. You probably did not know that, in addition to being governor of Texas, Rodeo Rick Perry was a noted geologist, paleontologist, archaeologist and anthropologist with all the credentials necessary to question the validity of the theory of evolution. By the way, he also thinks that Adam and Eve walked with the dinosaurs.
Rodeo Rick also said that the American military did not respect President Obama since he never served in the military. It may come as some surprise to Governor Perry that Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Roosevelt and Lyndon Johnson were all wartime presidents and that respect from the military was never a problem for them. The right wing of the right wing icon Ronald Reagan never served in the military and what little military record that George W. Bush had is best forgotten.
In trying to outdo….himself (????) Rodeo Rick also contended that “America needs a president who loves America”. When asked whether he believed that President Obama loves America he replied, “You have to ask him”. And so Rodeo Rick has staked out the neo-birther position of no longer questioning Barack Obama’s place of birth, questioning instead the location of his heart and the coordinates of his allegiance.
I think it is just a question of time before the presidential campaign of Rodeo Rick Perry explodes from bombast and idiocy or implodes from the weight of hypocrisy and illogic.
A Damned Shame
It has been said that there are lies and then there are damned lies. I would amend that statement by adding, some things are a shame while other are a damned shame.
Into this latter category I would place the Tavis Smiley-Cornel West “Speaking Truth to Empower” speaking tour, appearing in a hole in the wall near you soon.
During the past few months Dr. West and Mr. Smiley (reminds one of Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde???) have gained more attention than they could ever deserve by attacking and sliming Barack Obama.
While President Obama should never be immune to criticism but calling him a “lap dog of Wall Street” and implying that he has somehow betrayed black America presumably because he did not become a civil rights leader on January 20, 2009 is just plain wrong – and in the current political climate, dangerous.
The fact that Dr. West and Mr. Smiley are the arbiters of blackness would be laughable if it were not so pitiful. Their irrational, barbershop quality rhetoric directed at President Obama would fit in well at a Tea Party rally. They are getting the same attention as a “Man Bites Dog” story and seem to be satisfied with the attention as long as their names are spelled correctly.
Cornel West, while he may have missed a haircut or two, hasn’t missed a meal in a long time. He is a comfortably tenured professor at an Ivy League university that has never been mentioned in the same breath with Howard University, Morehouse College or Medgar Evers College when it comes to be centers of higher education for black Americans. Tavis Smiley has a list of multinational corporate sponsors whose predatory tactics have caused more suffering in the black community than all of the lies and half-truths he has broadcast over the years.
It is, however, a shame that some people will listen to this daffy duo. It is a damned shame that some people will not vote for Barack Obama in the 2012 election having mistakenly placed their faith and trust in these poseurs. And it is truly a damned shame that West and Smiley might in some way contribute to the election of Michele Bachmann, Mitt Romney or Rick Perry as president of the United States.
Unlike Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde, Dr. West and Mr. Smiley will be just fine. But many of us may suffer from their prideful misdeeds.
Have a great weekend!