Exploring the Eclipse of Equality

Archive for October, 2012|Monthly archive page

Beyond Racial Reductionism: Let’s talk about race.

In Collective and Chosen Trauma, Culture, Domestic Politics, Media and Politics on October 28, 2012 at 7:45 am

Remember back in 2008 when Colin Powell went on Meet the Press and made huge news in endorsing the first African American Presidential nominee from a major American political party? It was a much bigger deal than when he did it again the other day. His comments in 2008 were powerful. Among them were the following:

“Well, the correct answer is, he is not a Muslim, he’s a Christian. He’s always been a Christian,” he said. “But the really right answer is, what if he is? Is there something wrong with being a Muslim in this country? The answer’s no, that’s not America. Is there something wrong with some seven-year-old Muslim-American kid believing that he or she could be president? Yet, I have heard senior members of my own party drop the suggestion, ‘He’s a Muslim and he might be associated terrorists.’ This is not the way we should be doing it in America.”

In other words he was outraged that the Republican Party was demonizing the guy with coded language that not only was incorrect, but also toxic for civil peace and economic prosperity. Part of why General Powell supported the president was that he was different from other people and it was important to stand with when that basis of difference was attacked in coded or direct language.

Fast forward to last Thursday and we have John Sununu attacking Powell’s 2012 endorsement because he said it could be explained, in part, by his reflexive support for a race comrade. As Charles Blow put it in the New York Times this Saturday, this has all the hallmarks of race coded language and smacks of what he calls racial reductionism. I totally get what Blow is trying to do with this piece and I am sympathetic to it. With his unique position at the Times, he is in a better position than anyone else to denounce race baiting attacks in the public sphere and to match these comments with clarifying data that provide the educated reader with statistical support of an unorthodox kind for the argument. Read the rest of this entry »

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It’s the Congress, Stupid: How Obama Won and why Romney’s Winning

In Class and Social Stratification, Domestic Politics, Media and Politics on October 17, 2012 at 8:57 am

Like everyone else, I’m trying to decide what I think about the Presidential debate last night. Having just processed the revised draft of media interpretations this morning, I think one thing is now clear: Obama won the debate last night. He won it in several ways: He fought back and looked like he cared; he tripped up Romney on substantive points of partisan division; he deftly branded Romney a prevaricator; he stared him down on foreign policy in Libya; and he ended the show with a compelling dig about the 47%.

Even so, Obama is losing the fight. I still consider Obama the favorite to win the November contest, but even if he does win, he rather limps over the finish line unless he can mobilize a compelling narrative about how the economy works and what progressives would do with it to improve American and global standards of living.

You know what I mean. Many of you are dedicated Obama supporters and went into this debate breathless and perspiring in dread of a repeat performance of the first debate. When Obama fought back, you were excited and even more relieved, but when the topic came to the economy and what the candidates would do with it, you thought, “Obama’s not as good on this as he should be.”

Switch to the other side for a moment. For those who went into this debate skeptical or even critical of the President, Obama looked awful on the economy. His holster appears empty. He comes armed only with arguments about what kind of tax cut he would pursue and what measures he would take to shrink the deficit. It’s like he’s searching for the best rock ballad to sing in the Sunday choir. The form doesn’t fit the context.

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Joe Says it a’int so: Biden’s debate performance stops the bleeding

In Class and Social Stratification, Development, Domestic Politics, Media and Politics on October 12, 2012 at 9:23 am

Nothing serves to pull a writer into the public conversation like a campaign cage match. This is precisely what brings me back to the blogosphere, because that is what we saw last night when Joe Biden won the sole Vice Presidential debate the way  Mitt Romney did, by simply being himself and not the caricature of himself that he plays on our TVs.

Biden was last night what he always has been, the elder statesman with a heart, not the bufoon his critics make him out to be. What you learn in watching Joe Biden perform is that some people come off better in long sittings than in soundbites. Biden is a high mean, high variance performer and it simply isn’t helpful to pillory him for verbal slips. It is the central tendency of the sentiment that carries with him and this was on display in this debate in a way that has been missing to this point in the campaign and perhaps in the President’s whole term. Last night, Joe showed up to say it a’int so and if you had the ears to hear, you heard something that will matter for your life for quite some time.

Here is the key moment:

And I’ve never met two guys who’re more down on America across the board. We’re told everything’s going bad. There are 5.2 million new jobs, private-sector jobs. We need more, but 5.2 million – if they’d get out of the way, if they’d get out of the way and let us pass the tax cut for the middle class, make it permanent, if they get out of the way and pass the – pass the jobs bill, if they get out of the way and let us allow 14 million people who are struggling to stay in their homes because their mortgages are upside down, but they never missed a mortgage payment, just get out of the way. Stop talking about how you care about people. Show me something. Show me a policy. Show me a policy where you take responsibility…And now, all of a sudden, these guys are so seized with the concern about the debt that they created.

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