Somebody Has To Say It…

October 8, 2008

I Hate You So Much Right Now

Let me begin by thanking Kelis for that rather catchy anthem. You didn’t have to whoop bro’ like that in the video, but I ain’t made atcha.

Last night, somewhere between “That one” and the handshake that wasn’t, I realized that John McCain is one hostile dude. Actually, I already knew it, but he had done a fair to middlin’ job of hiding it, so when that hate percolated its way to the top, it was actually a bit of a surprise.

But the Junior Senator from Illinois didn’t even let a frown touch his face. I mean, the Old Guy just demeaned you on national television, and you just sit there looking content. Shaft was not even that cool.

I’ve been talked about a few times in my life, sometimes even to my face. There is no overstating the impulse to slap the taste out of somebody’s mouth, and in general, the only thing that held me back was the fact that my employment would probably end shortly after the backhand. So after months of some of the most demeaning and vitriolic comments ever directed at a human being, especially one who’s running for President of these supposedly United States of America, how can The Black Man Who Would Be President stand there, poised beyond measure, and listen to something so blatantly condescending?

It’s because he knows. He knows what Muhammed Ali knew in the seventh round against George Foremen. He knows what Michael Jordan knew when he stole the ball from Karl Malone. He knows what Tiger Woods knows when he sees his name at the top of a Major’s leaderboard at the end of the third round. And he knows what Usain Bolt knew as soon as the starter pulled the trigger.

“I got you.”

 I like the way Big Man  puts it:

Slowly, but surely he is cutting off John McCain’s wind. He doesn’t rush, he doesn’t falter. No matter which way McCain ducks and dodges, Obama pursues him, his mouth filled with a confident smirk. It’s similar to the hungry grin wolves give their prey before they go down the gullet.

You see, Ali already knew Foreman wouldn’t make it to the next bell; Jordan’s game-winning jumper was just an afterthought– all you had to do was look at Malone’s face when that ball got swiped; Tiger knows that no other golfer is capable of withstanding the relentless pressure that comes with having to tee off next to him; and Usain has no opponents, period.

But just winning is not enough. In Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Cask of Amontillado,” our protagonist makes it clear that true revenge requires that the victim not only knows exactly who is getting revenge, but neither the victim nor anyone else can do anything about it. Let’s face it– most Black men just don’t get to visit that place. And for John McCain (and Hillary Clinton before him), that reality has sucked out his very soul.

McCain can’t even look at him, but Obama can stare him down all across the stage. McCain won’t even shake his hand, but that’s okay, because by the time Brokaw told him to move out of his camera shot, it was all over but the cryin’. 

Unfortunately for McCain, I doubt Kelis’s little ditty is available on 8-track, so he may not be able to hear it for himself. But oh, how appropriate it would be as he sits on one of his porches with his space cadet of a wife, stuck in “I could have been,” to have that little ode to acrimony blasting incessantly in his good ear.

September 2, 2008

What if Palin’s Selection Is Nothing But a Scam? The Okey-Doke, Part II

I’m not big on conspiracy theories, but I do believe there is no depth to which the Republican Party, specifically John S. McCain, will not sink during this campaign. Every since Sarah Palin was announced as his running mate, and the subsequent tidal wave of scandals, bully-tactics, and generally bad judgment on her part has arisen, I’ve wondered whether this whole thing is not the ultimate okey-doke.

From all reports, McCain’s first choice was Joe Lieberman, but he essentially had a snowball’s chance in hell of getting him okayed by the Republican power brokers. With all the other qualified people out there, he somehow picks the hockey mom from East Russia, who promptly produces more baggage than a Southwest Airlines Fun Fare. In less than 96 hours, we’ve had Dairygate, Troopergate, questions about the real mothering of Trig, laughing at offensive comments against a rival (cancer, weight), 17-year-old daughter five months pregnant, membership in an Alaska-secessionist party, husband DWI, librarian and police chief fired because they didn’t support her mayoral campaign, staff member fired because he was dating soon-to-be ex of hubby Palin’s friend– can I just stop there? What serious Presidential candidate, in even the most obscure semblance of his right mind, would select someone like that for a potential VP?

One who has something up his sleeve, that’s who. Now I may be as wrong as two left shoes, but I have a gut feeling that Palin will accept the nomination this week in St. Paul, and will subsequently — within two weeks– withdraw from the race. She will say something akin to “In spite of my commitment to John McCain and the American people, the media’s continued distortion of my background, though categorically untrue, has severely undermined my candidacy, and in doing so, is causing irreparable harm to the candidacy of Senator McCain. It is with deep regret, but with the best interests of the American people at heart, that I must withdraw.”

Or something similarly bogus.

No longer bound by the convention (and trying to sell skeptical delegates on Lieberman), and now pressed by party leaders (at least publicly, since they would certainly be in on the flim-flam) to make a quick decision, he gets to choose Lieberman. Palin is the rabbit in a marathon; keeping the pace and holding everyone’s attention until the real stud comes flying by. She’ll go back to Alaska, governing until that plum Cabinet position is given to her as a reward for her “sacrifice.”

Like I said, I usually don’t go for conspiracy theories, but remember that you read it here first.

Update: Well, maybe I was on to something after all. Check this out from HuffPo.

© 2008 by Robert Rice, Jr.

August 24, 2008

Reality Check

I had never seen that look before, at least not from an adult. It was a combination of bewilderment, astonishment, instability, and fear, and as she spoke to me I could tell that the confluence of emotions she was experiencing was not only unfamiliar, but totally unexpected. It was the morning of October 3, 1995, a few minutes after 10:00am. Like an estimated 150 million other people, our lives had just paused momentarily as the verdict of the century was announced. Now, in the aftermath, we could hear the unabashed jubilation just down the hall, where probably every Black employee except me was high-fiving and dapping and generally exalting in the euphoria of O.J. being found not guilty. Now don’t get me wrong; I wasn’t displeased with the verdict, but even at that moment I was wondering what would happen next. After watching the news break with everyone else, I had simply walked away back towards my office, which by and large was the same thing most White employees had done.

She was the Executive Officer (XO) of the command (this was during my Navy career)– the second in command– and from what I’d heard and seen of her, had most likely lived a life devoid of any significant difficulty. In fact, I really didn’t care for her (and as it turned out later, neither she for me) because her comments and decisions consistently showed little understanding of the real world. One of our more heated discussions had centered around granting a waiver for a young Black man who was trying to enlist. He was married with three children, and this XO was refusing to sign off on the waiver because “I don’t think it will be fair to his family, because junior enlisted just don’t make enough money.” Amazingly, at least to me, she couldn’t understand that the young man was currently unemployed and living in the projects of Los Angeles. He was desperately trying to take advantage of the best opportunity in his life, and she was denying it because, quite frankly, she was measuring his immediate future against her own standard of living.

Anyway, as I walked by her office, she glanced up. She’d had her head in her hands, face down. She looked at me and said, slowly, “How could they find him not guilty?” I’m not sure if the question was rhetorical, or whether she really wanted me to help her understand, but I merely shrugged and walked away. I realized that her world, her comfort zone, her understanding of how things have to be– all of this had been shattered when the unimaginable happened. I would have to imagine that she was not alone; all over these supposedly United States, White people were grappling with the unthinkable. Famous Black man, two dead White people, and the courts– the one institution that White society had counted on for decades– had just failed them, undermining the most fundamental of societal rules: White lives must always be protected and avenged.

As I listen and read the astounding rhetoric flowing in this year’s presidential campaign, and often stand flabbergasted at the venom cast towards Barack Obama, I wonder what the morning of November 5, 2008 will reveal. Over and over again I’ve heard White people say “I’ve been a Democrat all my life, but there’s no way I’m voting for him.” Then, realizing what such talk could potentially reveal, they hastily add “He just doesn’t have enough experience,” or “I just can’t buy into his economic plans,” or something equally camouflaging. But if, and that’s an “if” of historic proportions, Obama wins, will we see that look again, now on the faces of millions of Americans who cannot imagine a White House that isn’t, well, White? Nearly 13 years later, the O.J. verdict is enough to send many White people into horrific tirades, railing against the courts, the media, and even the late Johnny Cochrane. Some pundits tried to spin it as though much of America’s racial polarization was being exposed, and the resulting dialogue must be beneficial. The realization, though, has been just as much, if not more, animosity and public rushes to judgment. Michael Vick, though hardly a saint, deserved prison no more than someone ticketed for traveling five miles over the speed limit, but the comparisons to O.J. flew quickly. “We can’t let another one get away” was the not so subtle message, and his sentencing, for some, was a signal that order had not been completely usurped.

For the next couple of weeks we will enjoy the conventions, be inspired or incensed (depending on your political leanings) by the speeches, and might even be entertained, in a deviant sort of way, if Hillary Clinton tries to pull some “No she didn’t” shenanigans in Denver. Then, for a few short weeks, the real mudslinging will begin, with actual issues being tossed on the back burner. Accusations will fly, counteraccusations will immediately follow. For millions of us, Black, White, and otherwise, our personal boogeymanometers will be in overload, as either Obama or McCain will be portrayed as, in short, our worst possible nightmare.

But, the day will come. Many of us will go to the polls for the first time, believing for a change that our votes do matter, that we are a viable part of the political process, and that we are becoming a part of history. And then, when the counting is done, and the 21st century’s first really compelling question has finally been answered, how will America respond?

I pray that it won’t simply be with that look.

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