Mark Davis right but mostly wrong about why we celebrate President Obama
True to form last week, Mark Davis gave backhanded praise for America’s warm welcome of President Barack Obama before laying the smack down for most of his Dallas Morning News Column. Click here to read Davis’ “Historic, yes -but also political.”
Here are a few passages from Mark’s column written from D.C. to give you a little flavor of his premise.
- On the occasion of this most joyous of inaugurations, my emotions are mixed, yet not contradictory.
- Witnessing the elation of real Americans celebrating the history of the moment was uplifting. I met a Missouri church group that had traveled overnight to arrive in the bracing cold of Washington, only to face the prospect of standing for hours to watch the swearing-in from a mile away. Only the darkest of hearts would be unmoved by their smiles and tears.
- While the obliteration of a racial barrier is always good, the inauguration love-fest was first about politics. If you doubt this, imagine how the crowd, and the coverage, would have differed starkly if our first black president had been a Republican.A President Michael Steele or President J.C. Watts would have been pilloried in black America and viewed as some kind of space alien by the media.
- Barack Obama’s blackness makes his ascendancy historic. But it is his politics that ignite the celebrations. Gather a mixture of jubilant inauguration attendees and worshipful TV talking heads; ask them about the most historic black achievements before Jan. 20, 2009, namely the service of Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice. Instructive silence will follow.
- But let us dispense with this silly notion that we need to be “post-partisan.” While his dinner with conservative pundits was very nice and the Rick Warren inaugural invocation magnificent, Barack Obama has ideas about how to handle the war, the economy and every other problem America faces. Each of those ideas has an alternative that should be forwarded energetically and civilly.
I always get a chuckle out of Mark Davis, whether I’m listening to his show or reading him in the paper. Where does he get a hypothetical suggesting “A President Michael Steele or President J.C. Watts?” Wouldn’t Steele or Watts have to get the support of their own party before that could even happen?
J.C. Watts left Congress -in part- because his party was more willing to prop him up as their token that give him leadership posts that his seniority deserved. And poor Michael Steele, he gets very little love from the GOP.
Davis is right, if Clarence Thomas, J.C. Watts, or Michael Steele were the first black president, then I doubt that African-Americans would have descended upon Washington at the same levels. Pride yes, elation, not so much. Even a stopped watch is right twice a day.
But that has more to do with the racist tradition of the Republican party than pure politics. Really, the Republicans’ politics of the 1960’s and 70’s was all about race, and they haven’t gotten past it in much of the South. So to think that African-Americans would celebrate a party that tried to ensure we wouldn’t have the right to vote or access to an equal education is ridiculous.
Yeah the Democratic Party started a lot of those racist policies. But they decided to take a different path, and the Democrats who did not embrace civil rights jumped to the Republican Party (aka Trent Lott, Strom Thurmond). Black folks give the Democrats credit for at least reaching out a helping hand, even if that hand has sometimes cost us. But an open hand of assistance beats a closed fist of opposition any day.
Not sure why Mark wanted to use a fairy tale scenario to poo poo on our parade, but it’s not unexpected. I probably would have watched The Price Is Right over a Clarence Thomas inauguration, but Condi Rice…..that’s a different story.