Wednesday, March 19, 2008

What flies, whose buttermilk?

People are stupid.

Not to be outdone by the story I saw in the paper last week that stated Barack Obama is "perceived to be black."

Holy friggin' Christ. Who wrote that? Do they still have a job? Can I get a job like that where I'm paid to be stupid?

Not long after, there was Geraldine's comment that Obama wouldn't be in this race if he weren't a black man. Gee, Deenie, then I guess you would have to agree that you would never have been a VEEP contender if you hadn't been a woman.

And then the Redi-Whip on the jiggly jello tower of racial controversy, right here on this very blog: "Hey, if this guy were a fat white guy, nobody would be listening to him."


Barney Frank is a fat white gay guy, and people listen to him. Look at Senator Byrd in West Virginia. People have been listening to him for decades. And for heaven's sake, let's not forget Rush Limbaugh. Big, fat, white, and plenty popular.

So what's your point?

Why not just say, "He's not qualified to run the country because he's not white and not rich." If people can drill down to realize that's what they're thinking, then we can all pretty much substitute "country" for major bank, Ivy League university, aerospace manufacturer. Whatever. Whatever you think is too big and too important for a person of color to handle in this country. Because that's what you're saying.

I think there's more than the color of his skin that scares people about Senator Obama. What people really can't handle is that this is one of the smartest Americans ever. Americans don't even know what smart looks like after the last seven years. And this guy is immeasurably smarter. Immeasurably.

Why, why is this so hard to accept?

I'm not writing this to stump for a candidate or try to look smarter than you or anyone else. I'm writing this because I'm really frustrated and sad. Most people who know me, even my closest friends, have absolutely no idea what goes on in the world where race is concerned. Unfortunately, I see it every day. If it hadn't been for my job and the fact that I work for a couple who have spent their entire careers enmeshed not only professionally in counseling both white and black executives on this issue, but as a bi-racial couple have personally faced extraordinary discrimination from both the white and and black communities, I would not be as aware as I am. It's kind of a blessing and a curse.

I honestly don't think America is ready for the discussion Barak Obama is trying to have with us any more than bluegrass fans need to read this on this blog. Sadly, I don't think people knew what to make of his speech at all. I have a feeling most folks were just dumbfounded, let alone in denial. Then again, so was Thomas Jefferson.

And I think back to some of the comments. Dr. Don has almost always been right, even when I've disagreed. Americans, even the smart ones, don't care. They don't want to change. That's as true as anything else.

So where does that leave us all?

At least there 's the music. And there's lots of it, and lots of people to play it and enjoy it. And that's also true.

Carolina Chocolate Drops


At March 20, 2008 12:25 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Mando - Stirring up a hornets' nest again, eh? Look, I agree with some of what you said but I can also see the other side of it. Obama has enjoyed 90% support from the black community. You cannot deny that this is because he's black. That support has helped him win some primaries. If you deny that this support is because of his race, then you must assume that black Americans simply know more about him somehow than the rest of us do. Frankly, almost every exit interview I've seen with black Americans has them openly admitting that they are thrilled a black man might be president. They aren't talking about his voting record or his qualifications but are focusing on the color of his skin. So to say that his race has not been a factor in his success is not accurate. Even Bill Clinton, the "first black president" didn't get 90% among blacks.

Second, I have no doubt in talking with friends and overhearing conversations that a certain amount of white support for Obama is due to white guilt. We've all been made to feel ashamed our whole lives for events that had nothing to do with us directly and now we all have a chance to show how open-minded, progressive, and color blind we are. I think it's undeniable that some people will vote for Hillary just to show that they're okay with having a woman president. Likewise some people will vote for Obama to prove they're not racists.

I also question the assertion that Obama is one of the smartest Americans around. Perhaps he just seems that way because we've had so many years of W. Still, on what basis do you make that assertion? Because he speaks well? Because he went to an Ivy league school? I work in a lawfirm. Most of the people I went with have as much education, from fabulous schools, as Obama. They are equally well-spoken. It's what lawyers are trained to do. They're trained to be articulate, to debate, and to be composed. No offense to any of my colleagues but I don't consider any of them amongst the smartest Americans in the country. They're educated people who present themselves as educated, that's all.

Don't get me wrong. None of this is meant to say that Obama isn't the best candidate we have going. Maybe he is. He certainly couldn't do worse than W. I'm just saying that I don't think anyone knows Obama well enough to be so enamored at this point. We have scant evidence of his voting record because, frankly, he didn't really accomplish much in his two years in the senate. Junior senators don't wield a lot of power. We don't know a ton about his personal life and his speeches are well-written, carefully crafted marketing materials. That's no slam on him. They all do it. Who knows. I may end up voting for him. I just think he's gotten a pretty easy pass in the press so far and that all the adulation is a bit premature.

At March 20, 2008 6:02 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Hey Doc,
Thanks for this thoughtful comment. I do want to respond at length but just got home from work and am myself in close range of losing my humanity here in the middle of two too-long weeks. But I appreciate all you said and want to just take a minute now on one point.

Your comment that some white folks may vote for Obama because they feel guilty is precisely my point. Guilt is the driver that gets a person beyond the block that they can't imagine he's qualified. Same with the gender issue and Hillary. The whole point of the speech was to say, out loud and in front of a lot of people, that race is a big problem in this country, as is gender bias, and sexual orientation. I think what I mean by "smart" is that Obama took a strategic and personal risk by putting it all on the table. It's a way of pointing out that the Emperor has no clothes or hey, who put that big elephant in the middle of the room? I don't mean smart in the sense of flaunting his education. He used his education to get at the root of problems in the community where he lived. Hillary used hers to make a bigass boatload of money. To each lawyer his or her own.

I know plenty of smart white and black people. One of those smart black people is one of your County Commissioners. But I'm not sure I like him because of the way he does flaunt his education. If you ever listen to that guy talk, you'd be certain, as I am, that he has one of those "word-a-day" calendars on his desk. He's been a friend to a lot of things I care about, but he's not real-people, street smart.

I am sorry for those folks you know, and any folks, who have white guilt. It's a waste. I've heard some terrible stories about Fortune 500 executives coming to my boss and trying to "confess" themselves about how they just can't get past the whole color barrier. It's pathetic. We all need to figure out a way to get at the issue effectively. To me, there's nothing more irritating than people who screwed up tell me they're sorry. For years, I put up with this. Now I just say, "I appreciate that. What would matter more to me than "sorry" is you actually trying not to do this a 400th time." It's a lot easier to feel guilty than....what's your favorite saw, my dear friend? Change.

More later...I'm so grateful you take the time to stop by. I hope others will chime in! Right now I'm going to amuse people at the fitness center.


At March 21, 2008 8:10 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Mando - I get your point and I think there's validity there but let's not forget that the only reason Obama made this speech is because he had to. It wasn't like he was doing this before the whole Reverend Wright thing came up. Sure he talked about unity and getting past these issues in an abstract way but he didn't have to put a fine point on it until his poll numbers started dropping. I don't know if that's courage as much as strategy.

And let's not forget that he's a millionaire too. Sure, the Clinton's are worth more but a lot of their current wealth has been made in the past 20 years since they vaulted onto the national stage. When he was governor of Arkansas, their worth wasn't what it is today. Trust me, Obama's net worth is going to be skyrocketing too.

My point, to clarify it, is that I think people's desire to see in Obama a savior is blinding them to the fact that he is still an aristocratic politician. He may have had humble roots but so have many politicians who soon forgot all about those roots once they got used to limousines, white cloth napkins, cocktail parties, and sycophants.

What I say is this: Like Obama if you want. Vote for him if you want. Those are your rights and you have to do what you think makes sense. But don't make the mistake of thinking he is anything like you or that he is truly going to revolutionize life for the "regular folks" of this country. He's a multi-millionaire vying for the most powerful job in the world. The favors he's likely to owe after this election don't involve the best interests of the American middle class. Let's not forget. This is NOT a democracy. At best it is an aristocracy. People who think otherwise are, in your words, stupid.

At March 21, 2008 9:31 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Well, to borrow Blueberry's term, really, it's really a corporatocracy.

Anyway, I do think he had to make the speech, and maybe he did it because his numbers began to sag a little. But I think the issue with Wright was really more personal than that and called out a whole different and more important reason to put the race card face up on the table. The Wright stuff and Obama's speech was fairly personal. This preacher, Rev. Wright, seems to be a pretty polarizing figure, and does not seem to mind allowing himself to be politicized. He was, as we read in the news today, among the preachers that hung out with Bill Clinton at a prayer breakfast just about the time the Starr Report came out.

It is certainly possible that Obama will turn out to be all those things most other politicians have turned out to be. I hope maybe that it will take him a little longer since hopefully he or whoever is elected our next President should be pretty busy doing all those things Obama mentioned in the speech.

And now, my daughter is sick. I have the kids one night, and she's going to spend it throwing up. And I hope I'm not throwing up all the way to Rochester on Tuesday morning.

No president's going to fix that, though. Like everything else, it's my problem.

At March 26, 2008 2:41 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

I think what I dislike most about this post - and there is much - is the fact that it starts out saying, "People are stupid" and then goes on to quote an idea I raised here as proof.

Ugh. Seriously.

You said... Why not just say, "He's not qualified to run the country because he's not white and not rich."

Um, that's so far off the mark it could get me to issue the same "sigh" you did.

...not even worth discussing this I guess. Glad I checked in.

At March 26, 2008 8:15 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

This morning I was getting ready for a day of meetings and I read this in my hotel room in Rochester. The first thing I thought was, "Ok, well, I hurt BBs feelings. I'm sorry about that." Then I thought about whether to respond and what the contribution is to the understanding of the problem.

First off, let's be clear. There are stupid people in the world, and I've heard that and read that on every blog I've ever visited at some point. Look at our Commander in Chief. And then, remember that he didn't get there by himself.

Second, whoever the asshat was who wrote that Barack Obama is "perceived to be Black" made a stupid statement. Maybe the person wasn't stupid, but certainly wrong. The editors who let it slide made a stupid decision. Come to think of it, maybe they were stupid, too. I really still can't believe I saw it, right there in black and white, in the region's largest newspaper. Unbelievable.

Then there's the issue of the comment I called out. When I gave it some thought, I realized the difference between what Geraldine Ferarro said, and what MBB said, is barely negligible. In both cases I found the comments highly offensive, but I don't censor people for being offensive to me personally. What's more important is that they spoke honestly and what they expressed was really, I assume, how they felt. And in both cases, what was expressed was that
the color of this candidate's skin has determined his popularity as a candidate, not his ideas, not his experience, not his credentials. Whatever I feel about that kind of comment personally, more importantly it says to me that there are a lot of Americans who just have never encountered this issue on a deeper level and that they really don't want to go deeper. And maybe they can't.

I'm not saying either individual is a racist. That's entirely different. What I am saying is that race is a factor in how these individuals, and other individuals, perceive others.

The issue of "diversity" has become big business. Interestingly, all kinds of issues have crept into the diversity recipe. Everyone who sees themselves as different wants to be treated as a "diverse" individual. But let me tell you what I know to be true: When I meet you, whether in an interview or you are running for office, I can't tell who you sleep with, I can't tell what God you worship or if you worship at all. But I sure as hell can tell what color your skin is or whether you have a disability. Accept the fact that the visual sighting of what makes someone different is the key to this discussion.

Specifically to MBB's comment that if there were a fat white guy running for President who said the same things Obama was saying, he would be overlooked. That may not be stupid, but it sure isn't true or fair. I'm not sure what the support is for that statement. Fat and thin white guys, dumb ones and smart ones, have been running this country since before it was founded. There has never been a time in our nation's history when a white guy wasn't president. We had a couple of average-built white guys named Kennedy and Clinton who in their campaigns and their Presidencies said some of the kinds of things Obama is saying, or in the spirit of what he is saying. So I need some help, I guess, understanding the legitimacy of that comment. Otherwise, it comes across as merely an unfriendly swipe at the candidate, using race as the motivator.

This of course begs the question of whether I believe Senator Obama is in fact qualified to do the job. Of course I think so. As Doc says, it would be pretty hard to f/// things up any more, and there are a great many advantages to someone who has to build relationships from scratch. Strategically I think the country would be very well served. The other two candidates are about as uncreative, unchallenging, uninteresting, and unimpressive as any I have ever seen, with the possible exception of John Kerry.

MBB is one of the smartest people I know. But his comment reveals to me how everyday good people are dealing, or not dealing, with the issue of race when confronted by it. I can't afford to be afraid to talk about race but I'm just one person. Americans are underequipped to have this very personal conversation effectively, so I hope Obama isn't wasting his time.

As a happy-to-me footnote, here are the credentials of an accomplished non-Caucasian individual who recently endorsed Senator Obama:

Governor, State of New Mexico, 2002-present
Secretary, United States Department of Energy, 1998-2001
United States Ambassador, United Nations, 1997-1998
Democratic Chief Deputy Whip, United States House of Representatives, 1997
Representative, United States House of Representatives, 1983-1997
Democratic Nominee, United States House of Representatives, 1980.

Eh, he probably only got those jobs because he speaks Spanish.

At March 27, 2008 10:05 AM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

Mando -

You are missing a major point in my comment here. You and I are friends. I "used to" feel safe here to just express my feelings, because I specifically didn't think I'd be made to look foolish for them. Now, you can go on and on about Obama, but that has nothing to do with the fact that you quoted me to support the statement that "people are stupid."

That's rude. That's wrong. I don't do that to you. We may get "into it" in discussions, but I don't base a posting on how "stupid" your opinions and you are.

That's the major point you're glossing over. That's fine. But I won't be commenting further here because of it.

Point #2 - I have a different opinion on the Obama thing. It is actually entirely possible for me to believe that his race is playing a major part in his popularity. That you basically tell me my opinion is invalid is entirely and utterly ridiculous on your part. Again, I was under the impression that I could actually differ with you on things and still have my opinion be respected.

Not gonna happen I guess.

And please, my comment does not inform you on anything about how I am or am not dealing with the issue of race. How condescending. You are as ill-equipped or as qualified as am I.

Again, I thought I could have an opposing opinion and not be used as your personal bluegrass punching bag.


At March 27, 2008 12:18 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

"It is actually entirely possible for me to believe that his race is playing a major part in his popularity."

That is exactly my point. It is not only entirely possible, but real, and very likely shared by a great many Americans. It's the very crux of the matter. Did I say it was wrong? No. I did say that the notion that Americans would not be listening to Obama if he were a fat white guy might be a bit of a stretch based on the history of our nation's presidents.

I may be judged by some as ill-equipped or unqualified to talk about race. For the last four and a half years, I've been doing work that requires me to confront it and help people and companies confront it daily, so maybe I'm just less afraid to talk about it. In fact I feel responsible for talking about it. Making you a punching bag of any sort by anonymously referencing the comment you left about race was not my intention, and I'm sorry you feel that way. I've been punched by all kinds of folks and I guess I'm just used to it. How you deal with those feelings are your responsibility and prerogative. If that comment had been made by anyone in my house, or at dinner out with friends or in any public setting, I would have instigated the same conversation and it obviously would have been far less anonymous in a group setting. By coming forward as the author of the comment you gave me the choice either of shutting up and slinking away from the biggest issue in this election and probably the most divisive issue in our nation's history, or trying to continue the conversation in a public setting. My mistake was not anticipating, despite my experience, that my approach would leave you feeling I had made you personally the Poster Child of the Racial Divide. But your comments are important and highly relevant exactly because they represent such a significant segment of public opinion. They were also anonymous until you opted to out yourself, which I cannot help.

At March 27, 2008 1:21 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Okay, I'm still confused as to the point about Obama. Maybe I'm dense. Mando, are you saying that it's a problem that he's getting voted because he's black or that people perceive that he he's getting votes because he's black?

That Obama is enjoying popularity because of the color of his skin is an undeniable fact. Again, his poll numbers among black voters completely bears this out. Now, I'm sure many are voting for him because they feel he's well qualified but repeatedly many have also admitted they are voting for him solely because he's black.

If you're saying that voting for anyone based on race is stupid, then I have to agree with that statement. However, if you think it's stupid that many of us think Obama has an advantage because he's black in this race, then I have to disagree because again the poll numbers bear this out.

I also understand MBB's point about fat old white guys. Yes, every president previous to this has been white but I think there are a lot of reasons for this. It certainly isn't because the country has felt that only old white guys are qualified to be president. In fact, the terrible voting rates in most elections demonstrate the apathy voters have toward these candidates. And black men have run before, like Jesse Jackson. He just wasn't the right black man. He's too polarizing.

This year we have a perfect storm. The two most viable democratic candidates happen to e a woman and a black guy. They are running in a year when the sitting president has his lowest approval in the history of his presidency. Nationally, whoever the democrat front runners were, they were going to get a bump from the "throw the bums out" mentality. However, I also think that Clinton and Obama are enjoying some unprecedented popularity and support because they both represent feel good stories. Many women see Clinton as smart and capable and they are proud to throw their support behind her. Might they vote for a white guy saying the same things? Sure, but the passion wouldn't be there.

Might people vote for a white guy saying the same things as Obama? Possibly, but I guarantee you that the voting turnout wouldn't be as high as it's been for Obama. And I guarantee you that the white candidate wouldn't have a 90% approval rating among black voters.

I guess I don't see what's wrong in admitting that part of Obama's success in these primaries is due to his race. That doesn't mean he's not smart or capable. But to try to ignore the impact of his race is intellectually dishonest.

I guess we could all say that Jenna Jamison is a multimillion dollar porn star because she's good in bed but I also think it has something to do with the fact that she looks like Jenna Jamison. To say she only became wealthy because she's a smart businesswoman and is good in bed is missing a big part of the picture. Nobody pays to see Rosie O'Donnell in porn.

If you're saying we need to get over giving women breaks because they're beautiful, I guess that makes sense but it ain't gonna happen. And humans will never get over race. Human beings are biologically compelled to categorize and we tend to categorize by the most salient characteristics. Sometimes this innate mechanisom goes awry and causes us trouble but it's also helped us survive for a million years. It isn't going away anytime soon.

Then again, maybe I'm just misunderstanding.

At March 27, 2008 3:54 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

No, you're not dense, but I appreciate the expression.

This isn't really about Obama so much as it is about race. He's not the first black presidential hopeful. The Rev. Jesse Jackson's approach to the Presidency and to the issue of race was entirely different. He was also a cantankerous, arrogant human being who makes Hillary look like Florence Nightingale. He means well and works hard on his approach to a difficult issue.

You started the thread by saying that Obama had to respond to Jeremiah Wright. Well, I’m not sure he had to, but he did. So rather than steer the conversation away from race, he hit it head on to get it out of the way. He did not run screaming in the other direction or point a finger. He just said, "Well, this is who I am."

And that's all that BB is saying as well, and I'm not having any issue with that. In fact I don't think I said anything to the contrary, or accused anyone here of being a racist (and I can tell the difference, honest). What I'm saying is that, Jesse Jackson was black, but that didn't make him more popular as a presidential candidate. In fact I don't think he's very popular at all. So why would we venture to say, then, that the only reason Obama is so popular is because he is black? Why would race work for one black candidate, and not the other? So what I think we are learning is that maybe the old saw we have about some members of some groups being ok is still pretty operative.

The Democrats, as badly as they are behaving, do have an unprecedented situation. Nobody expected a woman AND a black man. Nobody expected the level of talent. And nobody expected the primary to still be dragging on. The sad thing is it's probably going to drag on until Howard Dean sits the two of them down in August and asks which of them will step down. At least that's how it looks right now.

But forget all that. Our candidates are McCain, Obama, and Clinton. I think, or maybe I hope, what people are really saying is not that Obama is ONLY on this list because he's black -- well except for that bitch Geraldine -- but maybe what they are saying, or what I wish they were saying, is "How about that. He's on that list AND he's black." That's a totally different idea.

Finally, would people vote instead for a white guy saying the same things? I don't know, because we don't have one. The closest we came was John Edwards, who was my favorite until I heard about his 28,000 sqft home and his $400 haircut. He had, in terms of experience, maybe hair more than Obama. He'd already run the race, he had passion for the things I cared about, and he was the only candidate at the time talking about climate change without being prompted. My dream ticket, as I said before, would be the perfect combination of experience and vision -- Obama Gore, in any combination. But, that ain't happenin, either. So I am keeping the vision part and hoping that if he surrounds himself with folks like Richardson, he'll have the necessary experience in his cabinet just as would any smart president.

To your point about race and gender, we do have incredible EEO issues in this country. There are students who get into colleges and executives who get jobs because of their race, just like there are women AND men who get jobs because they are better looking than their competition. But this discussion really is manifesting something I see all the time. We have CEOs who tell us they want a person of color for a particular job, and we're very good at finding that person, but then, they can't believe we found them. WTF? "Wow, this is the most talented IT/COO/CFO/CAO we've ever had. I can't believe there is such a talented black person. Did you have any white candidates?" We also have known companies and candidates who have used us just to make sure they can say they had a diverse slate. So I'm not coming at this issue blindly or because I'm all sad for Obama. It's like, A REALLY BIG FUCKING ISSUE in every segment of American society. It's ok to categorize as our human instincts tell us to as long as we don't then rationalize our asses off about it. Now THAT'S intellectually dishonest.

At March 27, 2008 6:44 PM, Blogger Piepiepie said...

Maybe I am misunderstanding the blogiverse--but I thought that when one comments on a blog, he or she becomes part of the "public record" (as it were) of that blog and those comments were fair game for discussion in comments and subsequent blog posts.

Dr. Don, I agree that there are white people voting for Obama out of white guilt, but I have a slew of white relatives in Youngstown who would never vote for him out of something much uglier than guilt. (My son told my mother, "Well, he's half-white. Maybe you could vote for that half.") I suspect that there are more people of their ilk than the other type.

At March 27, 2008 6:48 PM, Blogger Piepiepie said...

p.s. Rosie O'Donnell is in porn? Oh dear.

At March 27, 2008 9:59 PM, Blogger My Boring Best said...

Pie - Well, looks like you're going for the cold-hearted "public record" thing. I think we all are adults here and realize how the Internet works. But thanks for reminding me of the obvious.

My point is that there is a way to discuss things without having to make an ass out of somebody that is your friend.

I'm okay with disagreement on an issue. I mistakenly thought this was a "safe" forum to disagree without having to be made a fool of. I was wrong.

That I am somehow made to feel as if I "outed" myself, and therefore entirely responsible for some hurtful behavior on Mando's part is ridiculous. Anybody who looked at the comments would know who said what. I didn't "out" myself.

I made the mistake of expecting my friend to treat me as such in a public forum.

At March 28, 2008 12:22 PM, Blogger DrDon said...

Mando - See, here's the thing. I think you are trying to apply consistent rules to human behavior and thought. In my mind, this is a mistake. Simply because Jesse Jackson did not enjoy the popularity during his candidacy that Obama does is not proof that race plays NO part in this election. It is merely proof that race is not the sole determinant.

I feel like a broken record but if 90% of black voters support Obama, you cannot say this has nothing to do with race. If it only had to do with qualifications, wouldn't his approval ratings among blacks and white be somewhat similar or at least close? Blacks favor Obama 2 to 1 compared to whites. That means either they know a lot more about him than white people or they're voting for him because he's black.

Now certainly some white support for him is suppressed by racism, as Pie points out. But he also gets a bump in white support by the white guilt folks so I think that's a wash.

So you say, if it is just about race, why didn't blacks support Jackson as strongly? Well, first of all, Jackson is pretty powerful in the black community. He also had a much higher level of support among blacks during his presidential bid than he did among whites so I still think there was a racial disparity.

However, I think you also have to look at the fact that humans of all races like a winner. Even blacks knew that Jesse Jackson had no chance of winning the nomination for president. He did not receive nearly the coverage or kid glove treatment that Obama has in the media. He's also a much more polarizing figure than Obama. For these reasons, I think even the black community had trouble getting too excited about him.

With Obama, they see a real shot to have a black man in the White House and I think this has galvanized their interest. Look, we can debate this all day but since these primaries began, I have seen countless black voters interviewed on TV who have said something to the effect of, "I think it's great that a black man has a real chance to be president." Not a smart man. Not an accomplished man. Not an experienced man. Not a uniter. A black man. That's what the focus of a lot of voters is.

And why would it be anything else? Do they know Barack Obama? Do they know anything about him? Do they know his voting record? Has he even really explained his potential policies, how he plans to pay for the reforms he keeps talking about? No. They don't know anything about him. The know he's black, seems smart, and actually has a chance to win and that's enough for them.

And you don't know him any better than that either. Neither do I. And I can make the same argument about Clinton and McCain, except that since they've been around longer wwe have more of a record to look at with them.

So we should all, myself included, stop acting like we're the smartest person in the room and admit that the decisions come down to gut feelings and personal choice. You hate George W and the last thing you want to see is another republican in the White House. That being said, I'd argue that on a purely logical basis there are probably ways in which McCain is better qualified than Obama. Doesn't mean he'd be a better president. This is just all about how we feel about the candidates and we all try to support our positions with "facts" that we think we know.

Ultimately, we don't know any of these people and they don't know us. Nor do they care to. You talk about John Edwards. Do you think that Obama gets his hair cut at Best Cuts? He's a multimillionaire too. Have you seen his house? Okay, it's not like Edwards' or Bush's but my house could probably fit in Obama's garage.

I think we all make the mistake of thinking/hoping that any of these people are like us, were like us at one time, or even care about us. I think that's a greivous error on our part. I work my ass off and spend very little of my money because I don't think any of these people will do anything to help me or make sure I'm well cared for when I get older. It's up to you to do that. I gave up on government or politicians solving problems long ago. What you'll find is that the economy will, on it's own, start getting better, probably around the time the next president takes office. He/She will get all the credit and everyone who supported them will feel vindicated, until the next recession. Unless the president is just horrible, as Bush has been in many ways, I think the president is practically irrelevant.

At March 28, 2008 5:12 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

My point was not ever that it's wrong to think Obama is getting votes because he's black (or in the case of our AP reporter, perceived to be black). Of course he is. But he is also, clearly, getting votes for other reasons -- because he's perceived to be a uniter, because he's perceived to be smart, because he's perceived to be a visionary, because he's perceived to have enough experience. He is not, as Geraldine said, only on the list because he's black. And, fat white guys who say the same things and who run for president -- at the moment, a very thin market indeed -- are not being denied an opportunity to do those things.

My whole point in raising the Jesse Jackson spectre was to emphasize that obviously, there's a lot more to what makes a candidate popular than skin color, despite what Ferraro said. She's wrong. (And if I may, she was, up until shortly after making that statement, raising money for Hillary.) I'm sure there were white guilt voters in his demographic too, just not as many, and as you point out, probably not as many black voters either. If there could be a president worse than Bush, it might be Jackson. But, at least the job he is doing is the right job for him. Bush couldn't do a better job than my son could of putting our groceries in our reusable bags. He's an idiot.

The number of effective Presidential candidates of color we've had over the last few decades -- one -- pretty much reflects what you see in the boardroom. Of the Fortune 500, only about 6 or 7 of the CEOs are people of color. Shitfire, I think it's about damn time we had a black candidate, too.

My point was merely that the issue of race as raised or thrown around in this primary is not, and should not, go away after the primary. Or, after the election. When people say things like what is being said on blogs and to constituent groups and in cafes and classrooms and anywhere else, it's time to deal with it. And evidently, we suck at dealing with it. Isn't it time for change in that department, too?

Other points before I go check on dinner and my children:

1) Regardless of what we all feel about the Presidency and how far removed it is from reality, the role of President is hugely powerful. As you say, everyone likes a winner -- especially other countries. While I agree that any one of those candidates if elected is not going to make my life easier, that doesn't mean I thumb my nose at the opportunity to vote for the individual I would most like to see in the top position representing the United States to the rest of the world, which will only get smaller as my children get bigger. Casting a vote isn't about saving my own ass; for heaven's sake, that's my job.

2) I am sorry to do this, but swiping at Pie? She probably doesn't care, but, Boring, it's unfortunate that folks here can't stop by your password-protected blog to get a little perspective on this whole conversation about my blog and how ill-used it is to drag down my friends. As much as I appreciate your direct delivery and the fact that you've written some truly outstanding and very moving articles, there are also many pieces that were swipes at all of humanity, opportunities to belittle people you don't even know, and not only the occasional use of the word "stupid" but the liberal and regular use of the word, "retarded," a habit I picked up and eventually broke myself of as I could see it was inappropriate.

Speaking of cold-hearted, I don't recall you having actually met my good friend Pie, whom I've known for about eight years. She continues to be one of the least cold-hearted people I know, judging by the way she's hung in with me and helped me and other friends through some pretty challenging times over the last couple of years. The warmth, understanding, perspective, honesty, humor, and affection she offers on a continuous basis like that of Shameless, Shadow, and a few unnamed others have made the difference in getting through what appears to be an unending litany of stupefying moments in a life otherwise too long. She could also tell you that my phone number and email addresses haven't changed. If friendship is a hot button for you, it might best be expressed by staying in touch with folks you call your friends.

At March 29, 2008 10:17 AM, Blogger DrDon said...

Okay Mando, I think I've got the point about Obama. I guess I just don't think that this makes him any different than Hillary. Right now, except among black voters, he and Hillary are about neck and neck. That means a lot of voters also think Hillary is smart, well-qualified, etc. Since their poll numbers among whites are pretty even, a lot of the bump Obama has received is from his overwhelming support from black voters, support that is at least in part based on race. I think this is what Geraldine was really getting at. Not that I'm defending that old crow.

Also, to clarify, when I talked about politicians or government helping me, I really meant the royal we. I consider myself in the same boat as a lot of people. Trying to save for retirement, pay the mortgage, keep up with inflation, and have a little fun along the way. I don't expect government to do those things for me but I do expect them, and elect them, to be a watchdog over things I cannot control that affect my ability to do those things for myself.

For example, Bush (and Hillary and Barack) are talking about spending my money (taxpayer dollars) to bail out people who may lose their homes to foreclosure. I don't want my tax dollars spent this way. Most of those problem mortgages are the fault of the people who signed on the bottom line. Why should I now pay to help them? I put a 30% downpayment on my home, got a fixed rate mortgage, and bought less house than I could afford because that's the right way to make sure you stay solvent. So now some of my tax dollars have to go to people less responsible than me? People who bought a bigger house than mine with no money down? Ridiculous and the bailout plans are nothing but corporate welfare. The banking and investment industries have lobbied Washington to save their asses from their own greed and mistakes. Who's going to pay for it? Me. And people like me who did the right thing. Nobody's offering to lower my mortgage or interest rate. Shouldn't they reward the people who were fiscally responsible and not those who weren't?

But this is how topsy-turvy it has become in this country. You're almost better off spending every cent you make, not saving, just having fun and being irresponsible because our wonderful government, in the form of my tax dollars, will bail you out. And both Clinton and Obama are talking about continuing this same trend in an obvious pandering to voters. That does not give me great confidence in either of their leadership skills.

A true leader makes hard choices. A true leader might say, "You know what? Not everyone in America can have a house. It might be the American dream but if you can't afford it, you can't afford it. And those of you who can afford a house, you may not be able to have a $300,000 one. Not everyone can have a house that looks like it should be on MTV Cribs or Better Homes & Gardens." But instead of making Americans face harsh reality and demanding that people grow up, stop buying every new toy they think they have to have, and expecting them to behave like responsible adults, we simply bail them out. That's not leadership, it's cowardice.

So yes, on the world stage the president is still a powerful figure and you're right, a president who is perceived well by other nations can help this country. But I still think many presidents are ineffectual domestically where they refuse to stand up to corporate lobbies, refuse to force Americans to confront harsh realities, and refuse to do anything to reign in pork, pet projects, and government waste. To the extent that these things are not addressed, and I see no evidence any of the current candidates will do so, then I still think the president is irrelevant in a domestic capacity.

But, as I always say, I'm certainly not the smartest guy in the room and would love to be proven wrong by someone who will lead these country back to a place of respect and prosperity.

At March 30, 2008 6:23 PM, Blogger Mando Mama said...

Well there we agree. I am a single mom, I bought a very modest home --so my son and daughter could have separate bedrooms and we could "shore up" against coming education costs. Even with the condo fee, I am paying not much more than I would be if I were still living in a two-bedroom apartment on the other side of town. The place badly needs new carpet but I just can't justify it because we will probably need a new furnace next winter. I do feel very frustrated that I'm carrying my weight and will possibly be carrying the weight of a lot of other people who weren't as careful as I was. I don't want people to lose their homes, but should they get to stay in them if it means I have to make even more sacrifices? That doesn't work for me. And as frustrating as this is, what it probably means is that I have to get on my Senators' asses about it, and maybe some folks at the state level, and my lender. So the work is likely to be on me, but when hasn't it? And yet, here we have millions of people who evidently weren't capable of making the same simple choices I've made or have the sense to watch what the hell they're doing. You're right; a real leader would reward those of us who didn't screw everything up, and try to find rational, fair solutions for the rest.

Well, good luck with THAT, right?



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