Saturday, January 3, 2009

Peep Game

I'm about to put y'all on.

I mentioned this in my last post, but I wanted to elaborate on it and leave y'all to consider my reasoning over the weekend.

Barack Obama needs to worry about being labeled a coward.

Before some of y'all come at my neck, take your time and read my thoughts.

For the past two years, Obama has mastered the art of avoiding conflict without appearing too weak. He's sidestepped most of the controversies his opponents and the media have tried to involve him in, and he's been amazing at keeping his cool and refusing to be angered when insulted or discriminated against.

In the words of the immortal Andre Benjamin, the brother ain't cool, he's ice cold.

But, while Obama's laid back demeanor won him the White House, it also exposed him in other ways. African Americans voted for Obama overwhelmingly, but I think we all can admit that our votes were as much about the moment as the were about the man. Sure Obama was the most qualified candidate, but he also represented a major racial checkpoint. His election was a definite sign of black people's progress and that drove the massive support he received from us as much as his attitude and intelligence.

In fact, I think more militant black people wavered constantly in their support of Obama. I'm not even a militant, and I know I was conflicted at times. I wanted the brother to be more fiery, to call attention to historic wrongs and demand redress. I wanted him to call out sniveling Republican operatives on their racist attacks, and dress down the pandering media that never challenged mainstream mindsets. A part of me was disappointed that Obama didn't use his platform to finally force America to honestly assess itself in a mirror, even though I understood that there was no way he could do that and get elected.

Eventually, I got over it.

The thing is, now that the media and white people have watched Obama succeed despite their doubts, they now are questioning his placid manner. Some of this is in response to Obama's constant promise of change, but most of it is because the media thrives on controversy and they want to maintain the ridiculous ratings they enjoyed during the campaign. Obama is being goaded to take broad and decisive action because the media understands that no matter what action he takes, or whether he's successful, it will be news.

And that's why I think he's going to be labeled a coward.

I see the media quietly laying the groundwork for this meme with stories about whether Obama has the "mettle" to lead this country in a time of distress. I see them belaboring the point that now is not the time for a president who considers things from every angle before acting. Slowly, the media is creating the narrative that Obama is so afraid of conflict and drama that he will never take a stand on any controversial issue. Despite the fact that Obama has yet to be officially sworn in as president, they are criticizing him for not doing something to solve the world's problems.

This is actually a fairly predictable ploy.

Over the past eight years, the media have been repeatedly bitch-slapped by President Bush and the Republicans. Initially, journalists went along with most of the president's policies because the decision makers in the media shared his beliefs. As public opinion has shifted, the media has pushed back against Bush, but for the most part it's been too little and too late. The average American has far less trust for journalists now than before Bush took office, and it doesn't appear things are getting any better.

Logically, the media sees an Obama presidency as a chance to regain their stature.

Obama is still vulnerable to negative press, and unlike most politicians, he does not seem interested in buttering up the media to control his image. Sure, he's benefited from positive coverage for the past two years, but that was the result of what he represented not his own savvy. Obama has decided that transparency does not mean media access, and that stance has not endeared him to journalists dependent on leaks and anonymous sources to break news.

Truthfully, I don't see a way for Obama to avoid being labeled a coward without violating many of his key political principles. The media must create that narrative, so that they can justify the outpouring of criticism that Obama is sure to receive once he dons the presidential mantle and the country continues its descent into economic hell.

There is no way Obama can correct Bush's screwups quickly, but that won't stop the media from demanding he do just that. And in order to justify their critiques, journalists will have to create a narrative that places the blame on Obama because continuing to blame Bush just won't capture the public's attention.

Keep watching and reading and see if I'm right.



Salsa said...

I agree you but I also know this; 'Man schemes a scheme and God schemes a scheme but the scheme of man is dependent upon the scheme of God'.

OG, The Original Glamazon said...

Interesting take. I was just telling my BFF that I expect that Obama is hold close to the middle of the road so he can be bold and do a few bold things that will progress this country.

While there is huge success in being a centurist there is also some negatives to it.

I'm just poised to sit back and see what Obama does, I mean after all people didn't think he would be win with his cool demeanor.

His appeal to me is that ice cold unrattled confidence. And I don't think the media (even Fox) can take that from him. Swagger is in his DNA and the real swagger not the kind that jay, ye, weezy, and TI have either. The grown educated Imma lead this country like you ain't neva seen- WATCH ME swagger.

Happy New Year Big Man I hope you and your family have a blessed and prosperous new year!


the uppity negro said...

Well, I hear ya and I agree with you.

But I had one of my best friends at my Kwanzaa event earlier this week who later told me that another girl who flat out said "I don't like Obama" was in fact an Uncle Tom because of her dissent for Obama.

In fact she sounded like me because she read the list of Obama's less than fiery stances and his "personal responsibility" tour he took with the various churches and NAACP meetings following the Jeremiah Wright fall out. Now my friend really isn't a kool-aid drinker, but I think he's still indicative of the pass we've ALL given Obama--we usually say "if he said what we wanted him to, then he wouldn't have gotten elected" and we move on and become content with that.

Now, I'm not a fan of using Bible verses to support my point, but I think the writer of Revelation was onto something when he wrote his letter to the church in Laodicea that when it's time to fight, one HAS to pick a side. Obama's inability to pick a side, as I think you have aptly noted is setting up to be his Achilles' Heel.

That being said, the guy is not president yet and he's been quite clear that he's not and has deferred to Bush on most things. Granted I'm not at all pleased with Obama's cabinet picks for the most part, and I wish he'da kept his DAMN mouth shut on the Roland Burris issue out here in Chicago (and I think him opening his mouth yet again is a proof positive just how non-Chicago politics that he really is, because black folk are threatening to not elect our current Sec. of State for holding up Burris' appointment) I said I was going to give him the customary 100 days that most everyone else, media included afford the new incoming president.

emma said...

I agree that Obama runs that risk, but I also think that many of us on the political left have bullying syndrom. We fell we have been beat up on for so long and now we want revenge. We don't just want political wins, we want to bully the bullies. One thing that I have noticed about Obama is that he seems to not have this syndrom. He's not a man who feels beaten down or victimized in anyway. That's rare for any human being regardless of politics, race, gender, sexual orientation, etc. He knows he has to pick his battles wisely and his instincts, no matter how they seem to playout at first seem to be better then his critcs or his hand wringing supporters.

Obama is not perfect and sometimes, like all politicians he will hedge his bets, but I can't tell you how many times I questioned what he was doing (or wasn't doing) during this election, including his belief that he could actually win. Those times that I thought Obama was making the wrong play, I was wrong and he was right. I wanted him to rip Johnny Mac a new one during the debates, but it turns out his calm demenor won out and Old Man River came across as angry and unstable. I wanted him to call Palin out for the ignorant heiffer and joke that she was, but he knew that all she had to do was talk without a teleprompter for America to see what an unqualified fool she was. I wanted Gov Bill Richardson for SoS, but now it looks like he won't even be able to serve as SoC because of what may just be a bullshit FBI investigation, but bulshit the administration doesn't need.

I won't like everything he does and I reserve the right to critique him, even though I do love him. But I have learned to stop being a Chicken Little when it comes to this man. Maybe there is someone out there who can out think and out hussle him, but I've seen little evidence of this from the media or his political opponents. Maybe he will be his own worse enemy like Clinton, but right now I just can't get up in arms about anything yet. Not as a liberal or as a black woman.

That includes his cabinet appointments, who work for him and ultimately will do whatever the fuck he tells them or be fired. The man is cold blooded like that. Barack loves Michelle, Malia and Sasha. Anybody else can get their walking papers at anytime so I'm not stressed about how progressive his cabinet is. I'm watching his ass becaue he's the HNIC. I also can't trip on his view that anyone appointed by Blago would be a problem, even if they are black. I don't live in Chicago so I don't know what Burris's deal is. I'm sure he's a good public servant, but he must not have believed he stood a chance in hell of being the Senator of IL without this appointment. And that's not about race since they have elected two black Senators already. No one in their right mind should have teamed up with Blago. And I can't believe that black folks in IL are falling for such a blatent move at playing the race card by Blago, Burris and Rush.

We have a long tough road ahead and I sometimes wonder if there is enough TUMS, Pepto Bismol and high blood pressure medicine to get us throught it. Hopefully, PEBHO can keep his calm even if none of the rest of us can. Our man has been called everything form a radical, leftist liberal to now not progressive enough and too consevative for some. He's been called the Messiah and the Anti-Christ. He's been too black and not black enough. He's been a Muslim and a racist black Liberation Theologist. He had the audacity and bravery to run for the presidency as a black man with the middle name Hussein and now apparently he runs the risk of being viewed as cowardly.

Jesus Christ! Given all of that, PE Obama just needs to do his own damn thing as he sees fit. If you got called all of those things in a less then two year time period, wouldn't you stop giving a shit what other people had to say about you? Wouldn't you come to the conclusion that pleasing everyone wasn't possible? Wouldn't you just do your damn thing too and say fuck all the rest because grown folks can be worse then children with their whining, bitching and moaning? A smart, self-assured sane person sure would.

Here's to PE Obama being smart, self-assured and sane. That's just my 2 cents.

E.J. said...

I thought that ya boy needed to be more fiery too, but when he wasn't, apparently he knew what he was doing because he won. He may not be fiery, but at least during his campaign, he was relentlessly consistent in his arguments and his criticisms of McCain. Personally, I think he is brilliant and has amazing foresight to run when he did despite the incredible odds against him. He has and will make mistakes, but looking at the big picture, his vision and decisions so far have been right on, so I'm willing to trust that until given reasons not to do so.

As for the media, this is what they do. They build you up; then they bring you right back down. Exhibit A: Sarah Palin; and for exhibit B, I give you Sidney Torres. lol

But seriously, since the media is going to take him down anyway, I see no need for me to go along with them and start creating self-fulfilling prophecies of failure for him fulfill.

Deacon Blue said...

Big Man,

I think you may be right.

I don't think I care, though...and I hope Obama doesn't either. If he gets slapped with "coward" but can get the job done (or at least get part of the job done and do the rest partially completed with a lot more competence than Dubya), I'll be happy.

I look on my own life and some of the people that underestimated me. In those cases, my patience and willingness not to try to be what they expect or want has served me well. In the end, I've tyically had the "last laugh" as it were.

I think back to Jimmy Carter and the labels of "weak" and "ineffectual" he got slapped with after his presidential years. But the fact was he tried, and people realized that, and in his elder statesman years he's been a powerful force.

Dubya has run this country into the ground but he is largely going to fade into obscurity personally speaking. He ruined everything but no one cares about him much.

Obama may get labelled a coward, but that isn't necessarily a bad thing.

If he keeps his eyes on what's important, he might have the last laugh (and justifiably so) over all his critics.

Big Man said...

Emma and EJ

thanks for the comments. Great points.

EJ, you are particularly right about Torres. I remember when he was considered the trash king because of how clean he got the French Quarter. Now he can't do anything right.

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