Political Miscellany 6/3/08

A lot of black politicians supported Hillary Clinton’s presidential run, and that could put their careers at risk. Now that Clinton is on the cusp of losing the nomination race to Barack Obama, it’s being reported that she’s asking Obama to help her peeps out:

In addition to seeking Obama’s help in raising money to pay off some $20 million-plus in debts, Clinton is known to want Obama to assist black officials who endorsed her and who are now taking constituent heat, including, in some cases, primary challenges from pro-Obama politicians.

Speaking of mending fences, an LA Times article talks about how Clinton will need to repair her relationship with black New Yorkers in the aftermath of her election race with Obama.

Even as she continues her longshot presidential bid, Hillary Rodham Clinton faces a political rift in New York, where black leaders say her standing has dropped due to racially charged comments by her and her husband during the campaign. African American elected officials and clerics based in New York City say Clinton will need to defuse resentment over the campaign’s racial overtones if she returns to New York as U.S. senator.

State Sen. Bill Perkins, who represents Harlem, said constituents recently phoned him because they wanted to demonstrate outside Bill Clinton’s Harlem office against comments by the former president.

Belated congratulations to Karen Bass. Bass has become the first black woman to lead a state legislature, by virtue of being selected as Speaker of the California State Assembly. She assumed her duties on May 13, 2008.

Bass is from the 47th District of California, which includes many parts of Los Angeles county, including Westwood, Culver City, and Baldwin Hills. She is the vice chair of the Legislative Black Caucus, and has commissioned a report to research the basic demographic profile of Black Californians including the basic social and economic conditions. The State of Black California report included a statewide organizing effort to involve Black Californians in identifying their concerns and making legislative recommendations.

We wish her the best in her groundbreaking role.

Did you know? Only seven African Americans had previously been selected as head of a state legislature since the Reconstruction:
• Cecil A. Partee (D-Chicago), President of the Illinois Senate (1971-73; 1975-77)
• S. Howard Woodson (D-Trenton), Speaker of the New Jersey Assembly, 1974-75
• K. Leroy Irvis (D-Pittsburgh), Speaker of the Pennsylvania House of Representatives (1977-79; 1983-89)
• Willie L. Brown. Jr. (D-San Francisco), Speaker of the California Assembly (1981-95)
• Daniel T. Blue, Jr. (D-Raleigh), Speaker of the North Carolina House of Representatives (1991-94)
• Herb Wesson (D-Los Angeles), Speaker of the California Assembly (2002-04)
• Emil Jones, Jr. (D-Chicago), President of the Illinois Senate (2004-present)

Boyce Watkins of BlackProf.Com has an interesting piece titled Barack Obama Election Advice: Black Denunciations that Just Might Do the Trick. It talks about how Obama has had to play the “denounce/renounce/reject” game because of comments made by people he knows or has known.

As Boyce puts it,

Barack Obama is a nice guy, and I really want to see him have the chance to become president. After all, it appears that we’ve decided that having the first African American integrated into the highest office in the land is more significant than anything we must sacrifice in order to make that happen.[…]

So, I put together a list of suggested denunciations that can keep Senator Obama out of trouble in this campaign. He’s already denounced several black religious leaders and abandoned his church of the last 20 years, so he might as well get rid of anything else that might keep him from having a chance to receive complete validation from America. Black children should learn a lesson from all this: give up whatever you must in order to become successful. You are not quite good enough by being who you are, so you would be wise to disown all threatening aspects of your culture.   ”Mainstream” acceptance (translation: working at a predominantly white university, corporation or media outlet) is what makes you important in this world.  Don’t you forget that.  You can come back and work with black people if you can’t get a job anymore.

1) Medgar Evers…
2) Martin Luther King…
3) The other black “rabble rousers” …

And the list goes on. I think Watkins is going overboard on this. It seems like he’s equating Obama’s criticisms of Rev Wright and Reverend Phleger with being a denunciation of black people and black culture in general. That’s a real stretch.

PS, Obama has invoked the name and message of Rev Martin Luther King, Jr in several of his speeches.

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