By Anthony L Hall
Here are some of the unassailable and distinctly non-racial reasons former Secretary of State Colin Powell gave for endorsing President Obama for re-election on the October 25 edition of the CBS Morning News
When he took over, we were in one of the worst recessions we had seen in recent times, close to a depression. The fiscal system was collapsing. Wall Street was in chaos, and we were in very difficult straits… And I saw over the next several years, stabilization come back in the financial community, housing is now starting to pick up, consumer confidence is rising. The president saved the auto industry.
I also saw the president get us out of one war, start to get us out of a second war, and the actions he has taken with respect to protecting us from terrorism have been very, very solid. I think that we ought to keep on the track we’re on
Anthony L. Hall is a descendant of the Turks & Caicos Islands, international lawyer and political consultant - headquartered in Washington DC - who publishes his own weblog, The iPINIONS Journal, at http://ipjn.com offering commentaries on current events from a Caribbean perspective
I guess this is why so many people were shocked to hear John Sununu, Mitt Romney’s campaign co-chair, react by declaiming with indignation that the only reason Powell endorsed Obama is that they’re both black. But far from being shocked, I was not even surprised.
After all, most whites seem to think that the only reason Obama won over 90 percent of the black vote in 2008 (and is likely to do so again this year) is that he’s black.
No doubt this is why the lips of Senator John McCain, the 2008 Republican presidential nominee, were dripping with racial paternalism and condescension when he reacted to Powell’s endorsement as follows:
All I can say is: Gen. Powell, you disappoint us. And you have harmed your legacy even further by defending what is clearly been the most feckless foreign policy in my lifetime… Well, I’m just saddened because, you know, I used to be a great admirer of Colin Powell. We were friends
. (FOX News radio, October 26, 2012)
The problem of course is that Sununu and McCain’s racist reaction, as well as this general view of blacks voting along racial lines, are belied, among other things, by the fact that:
• Powell endorsed George H. W. Bush Sr. instead of the black Reverend Jesse Jackson in 1988.
• Most blacks supported John Kerry instead of the black Reverend Al Sharpton for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004.
• The purportedly homogenous black vote was almost evenly split between Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama during the race for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2008 -- until Obama won by garnering more white votes than Hillary.
• Bill Clinton and every other white Democratic presidential nominee has won a similar percentage of the black vote ever since blacks were allowed to vote, belatedly, in 1964.
• There’s glaring hypocrisy inherent in the fact that whites have been voting along racial lines in presidential elections, as a matter of course, since the founding of this republic -- until Obama gave them a viable racial alternative in 2008.
That said, let me return to Sununu’s criticism of Powell. And bear in mind that what this race-baiting gnome said about Powell last week comes on the heels of him saying that Obama is a “lazy” and “incompetent” person who “needs to learn how to be an American” a few weeks ago.
I took a lot of flak for asserting in my October 5 commentary, Super-rich Irony
, that only racism explains why so many rich white folks who benefited most from Obama’s presidency (with policies that rescued the US economy from the brink of depression, created record corporate profits, and doubled the stock market) are nevertheless insisting that he has been an abject failure.
Well, perhaps my critics will be more persuaded by Army Col. Lawrence Wilkerson, Powell’s former chief of staff, who echoed my assertion in rather stark and unambiguous fashion as follows on Friday:
My party, unfortunately, is the bastion of those people -- not all of them, but most of them -- who are still basing their positions on race. Let me just be candid: My party is full of racists.
The real reason a considerable portion of my party wants President Obama out of the White House has nothing to do with the content of his character, nothing to do with his competence as commander-in-chief and president, and everything to do with the color of his skin. That’s despicable
. (Daily News, October 27, 2012)
Clearly this explains not only Sununu’s remarks but also those of the many whites who are so racially vested in seeing this black president fail that they cannot bear to acknowledge any of his undeniable successes.
And don’t get me started on how morally repugnant and unpatriotic it is that Romney’s entire campaign has consisted of demonstrable lies and a fiendish prayer for negative economic and unemployment numbers to finally give credence to his doomsday message about Obama’s policies.
Divinely, nothing demonstrates how little his prayer has been answered quite like the economy growing at very positive 2% in the second quarter, unemployment falling last month to its lowest in four years (at 7.8%), and yesterday’s October jobs report showing the greatest increase in eight months. Like Powell said, the country is on the right track.
But America’s original sin of racism remains even more insidious and bipartisan than Wilkerson laments. Apropos of this, I took an equal amount of flak for asserting the following when Hillary Clinton declared that (white) Republicans were treating (white) Democrats like slaves:
This … demonstrates the insidious entitlement white liberals have been granted -- by politically compromised black leaders -- to make all kinds of racial jibes with impunity; so long as they play their race card, ostensibly, in the interest of the Democratic Party.
In this case, it only added insult to the racial offense that Hillary made these remarks in the front of an ‘Amen’ crowd at a black church in Harlem -- where she ‘came back home’ like a proverbial prodigal daughter
. (“Hillary: Republicans Treating Democrats like Slaves,” The iPINIONS Journal, January 23, 2006)
And, more recently, I was compelled to condemn VP Joe Biden in my August 16 commentary, VP Biden, Stop Your Dog-Whistling About Race…Now!
, for assuming this entitlement when he too stood in front of an “Amen” crowd of blacks and intoned in patronizing fashion that Romney wants to “unchain Wall Street” but “put ya’ll back in chains.”
So, because I’ve been upbraiding whites of both parties for years for their race-based attacks and presumptions, I was not at all surprised when the Associated Press
published polling results last week which show that, far from ushering in a post-racial America, Obama’s presidency has liberated racial attitudes among whites towards blacks.
In fact, racial prejudice in America has increased since 2008 and much of that prejudice is directed towards the man the nation sent to White House four years ago.
The AP used a survey that measures ‘explicit anti-black attitudes’ and found that 51 percent of Americans now harbor such racism. That’s a three-point rise in the last four years
. (Capitol Hill Blue, October 28, 2012)
Moreover, supporting my contention that this racism among whites is bipartisan, there’s this:
The poll finds that racial prejudice is not limited to one group of partisans. Although Republicans were more likely than Democrats to express racial prejudice in the questions measuring explicit racism (79 percent among Republicans compared with 32 percent among Democrats), the implicit test found little difference between the two parties.
That test showed a majority of both Democrats and Republicans held anti-black feelings (55 percent of Democrats and 64 percent of Republicans), as did about half of political independents (49 per cent).
(Associated Press, October 27, 2012)
Incidentally, it’s an indication of how irrational this racism is that, on everything from welfare to taxes, Obama’s policies are far more beneficial to the tens of millions of whites who comprise the majority of America’s poor. Yet polls indicate that the majority of them will be voting for Romney -- whose policies not only favor the rich but, like his pledge to repeal Obamacare, threaten to make these poor whites even poorer.
These findings should disabuse anyone of any residual expectation that Romney’s Mormon faith would prove a greater liability for his election than Obama’s black race would prove for his re-election. In fact, I’m on record stating my suspicion that many whites voted for Obama in 2008 more as a gesture of racial absolution than of political faith. These findings bear that out. And having thusly absolved themselves of their sins of racism (with this one, historic act), many of them now feel liberated to give way to their racial prejudices without fear of being called racists.
This is why many commentators suggest that racism is the Trojan Horse that will defeat Obama on Election Day. I disagree; not least because only rabid Republican partisans can vote for a man like Romney who has shown repeatedly that his tongue and core values are as slippery as quicksilver.
But more than that it remains my abiding belief that there are still enough fair-minded Democratic and Independent whites who will be loath to contribute a presidential legacy that granted two terms to George W. Bush and many other (white) presidents whose first term was anything but a success, but only one to this (black) president whose first term was a success ... by any objective measure. After all, only (bipartisan) racism would explain such a farcical legacy.
VP Biden stop
In support of Obama