It makes perfect sense that, in a country that seems more and more about the symbolic value of things, as opposed to reality, the first major political scandal of the new year involves nothing concrete or physical, just words. The controversy surrounding Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid is not just funny, it’s stupid to boot, and it goes a pretty long way toward demonstrating why his party has failed on every front.
The Nevada Democrat caught volcanic heat for remarks quoted in a new book about the epochal 2008 campaign. We already knew that the Republicans were in total free-fall that year, with a pathetic nominee and a worse batch of strategists and advisers who took an American hero and made him look even weaker and more doddering than second-term Reagan. (Which is quite an accomplishment, given that Reagan cultivated that gimmick on purpose to insulate himself from complicity in the Iran-Contra mess.) The mere presence of Sarah Palin on that ticket is now regarded as evidence of a larger strategic collapse, an extreme version of John Kerry’s role in securing victory for Bush-Cheney in 2004 by picking the noxious John Edwards as his running-mate.
What we didn’t know, and are only now learning about, is that the Democrats were a whole hot mess of their own. By offering the most honest depiction of 2008 yet seen, Game Change, by John Heileman and Mark Halperin, promises to be the first “must-read” book of the year, in terms of general entertainment value, and specifically indispensable reading for political junkies. The publishers have done an amazing job of whetting the public’s appetite with tidbits so juicy, in some cases, that they could have potentially changed history had they come out contemporaneously. And that is the big revelation: that both parties deliberately kept quiet about their issues with Barack Obama because they viewed his victory as our country’s best chance to escape a whirling vortex of debt and death that their “bipartisan efforts” had driven us into.
Reid remarked in private that Obama could win because he was “light-skinned” and because he had “no Negro dialect, unless he wants to”. Well? The tragedy of Reid’s statements is not that he made them, but that he was right. Obama was able to draw support from segments of White America that would have never supported any other black candidate, precisely because of how his blackness was finessed by his handlers. Obama had the advantage of being thoroughly-versed on these issues, as evidenced by his painstaking efforts to teach himself the dialect of black clergy—Martin Luther King’s other gift to his people—and his ease at blunting the sharpest edges from the liberation theology he learned in those churches.
In Chicago they still talk about Fred Hampton and Mark Clark, Marcus Garvey and Wallace Fard, George Collins and Harold Washington (who many believe were also murdered); they talk about COINTELPRO, which has been excised from the revisionist tales told about the civil rights movement. How many black men have seen the shattered face of Emmett Till? Not nearly enough!
They talk about these things, but not on TV, and not in mixed company. Baby Boomers have short memories, and for them the future is just an abstraction. Obama has never revealed how much was revealed to him, but we know that he learned how to do the impossible: get a black man elected president, with overwhelming white support. It is the alchemy of advancement; it is the dream of all those black parents out there who still bother to raise their children, even though the streets never lack for mindless “soldiers” willing to kill and/or die for the white man’s drugs, the white man’s money, the white man’s consumerist fantasies that have ruined the world.
Hell, there’s nothing more “authentically black” than having whites debate your blackness. It rings true for me. My mom sent me to Catholic school for my first three years, inculcating a way of speaking that has been fodder for thousands of racist jokes from all sides, not to mention countless beatings and a permanent spot on the bottom of the ‘hood hierarchy. To this day, barely a week goes by without my meeting a reader who exclaims “Wow! I had no idea you were black!”
Harry Reid knows the truth. His state was built by the very mobsters that black men have been trained to worship since Coppola made the first of his “Godfather” Mafia recruitment films. Without Lucky Luciano, Meyer Lansky and especially Bugsy Siegel, there would be no Harry Reid, just as there’d be no Obama without Al Capone and the Ford Foundation. Like 9/11, Obama was allowed to happen, and the wave of scandals due to pound his agenda into the sand (Tiger Woods-style) is merely an expression of buyer’s remorse from the losers who bought into something—and someone—they didn’t really understand. Obama, like his very name, gets blacker by the day.