Tuesday, September 16, 2008
Obama win? Not now, because Sarah's more American...
The Nation magazine considers Sarah Palin an ignorant wingnut ho. If that epithet's something tangible and corporeal in any sense, it gets the big "So what?" Now, how's that mesh with Harvard Law (Barack's alma mater) Prof. Randall Kennedy's recent piece the Washington Post's Outlook section, entitled "The big What if?" (e.g., if Barack loses). Utterly disparate themes?
Well first here's something on Randy. A blue chip black, Princeton '77. A paleo-Obama, like Roger Wilkens or Ken Chenault or Eric Holder, etc. etc. Someone whom the Palinphiles and working class lugs and rednecks and whatever label you wish (and their enablers on Fox or Glenn Beck) could hoist-- symbolically, that is--as antithetical boogeyman and effigy. Randy's a DC native like me, brother to august US District Court Judge Henry Kennedy, Princeton '71 (who's a friend of mine and the thesaurus synonym for "just" and "impartial"). But boogeyman in practice? Not really. Taciturn dude. Funny dude...after you plumb his mind and accept what's amusing to him. He's a gene splice of gadfly and forensic surgeon. A little Bill Cosby, a little HL Mencken, a little Woody Allen. His buzzing, pricking...his biopsies and autopsies.. are more aimed at the Liberal and at "black America's" conventions than at the Right, at white folks (redneck or Wall Street). Look at two illustratative works: Sellout: The Politics of Racial Betrayal, and Nigger: The Strange Career of a Troublesome Word. In the former, he's not vicious at all the species of Muppet which includes Michael "Lexington" Steele or Ken Blackwell or my nigga Justice Clarence Thomas or these mega-preachers. In the latter, he doesn't chasten Southern whites ( nor does he condemn the souls of rappers). I'll leave it to you fanboys and girls as to how to measure the psycho-cultural thesis of his Post piece, but here's a typically Kennedyean conclusion: "I anticipate that most black Americans will believe that an Obama defeat will have stemmed in substantial part from a prejudice that robbed 40 million Americans of the chance to become president on the day they were born black. They will of course understand that race wasn't the only significant variable -- that party affiliation, ideological proclivities, strategic choices and dumb luck also mattered. But deep in their bones, they will believe -- and probably rightly -- that race was a key element, that had the racial shoe been on the other foot -- had John McCain been black and Obama white -- the result would have been different" Note, fanboys and girls--I an 100% sure this Colin Powell's take.
Mine's not that strident (cloaked in Randy's understated prose). Wow--Colin Powell, or Randy, more strident than moi? Yeah, I'm nuanced only in that I take the time to strip some national patina. I do so because I feel I have the background and expertise and swag. Too many liberals, too many black people (particularly the "bourgie" professionals, the crunchy granola dreadlocked arts elite and yeah, even the plain ol' unwashed--the ghettofab and the bammas of the Dirrrty-Dirty South) feel that this is a great country if you dig underneath the crud. Here's the secret that the real America, Sarah Palin's America, keeps unwhispered. Yet they know. And it keeps them in line. Even happy. Ask yourself why, despite the New Deal, hasn't there been a successful social revolution in this country? Why did countless rednecks die on the Sunken Road in Antietam or in Pickett's Charge at Gettyburg for fatcat planters and politicians whose ranks they couldn't ever hope to join based on the odds? Why did the Populist movement fail? Or the Federalist Party whither have to be re-born in costumed forms? Why the almost tedious ebb and crest and ebb of unions? Or why was the Progressive movement a function of the middle class, of elite reformers? Why were muckrackers usually the children of wealthy, educated folk. Still are. Why Andrew Jackson, over the clearly better qualified John Quincy Adams? Indeed...
Because this country is shining and beautiful and wondrous and true to its promise and hope on the surface, NOT under a layer of crud, as liberals, as black folks believe. It's underneath that the rot, the ugliness dwells, ferments, percolates up. Sarah Palin's not an accident of America--she's a reflection of it. She's the reason why Elizabeth Hasselback is a star, or Rachel Ray is the highest paid and recognized "chef" in America. When I was a child, I was told that Tim Conway was the most talented, funniest comedian in show biz. What about Flip Wilson, or this dude Richard Pryor?" I'd point out. Only to be shouted down or met not with hostility...but annoyance. Hmmm. Like I was ruining the tribal religion?
Like Randy Kennedy my heart swelled and my eyes watered when I followed Barack's ascendency, when I saw he and fellow Tiger Michelle together not like George and Wheezy Jefferson or Jay Z and Beyonce or Norbit and Rasputia--but as a symbol of who we could be. Trouble is, Norbit and Rasputia, rumpshaker and head roller and thug, is what we are in the real America, the happy caldera heated by the rotten magma chamber below. And like Randy, I sight to be the gadlfy. I was quoted online, in the Post, in the Charlotte Observer, etc. etc. blowing the horn of concern like Apollo Creed's manager in Rocky when Hillary switched to Mark Penn's strategy. When Barack navigated Jeremiah Wright and Fr. Timothy Phleger by tossing the former under the bus and ignoring the latter (Jeremiah's ego hastened his trip under the Goodyear radials; Fr. Tim was needlessly abused however). And Barack clinched, and arrived in Denver like a Roman General on a chariot and was bathed in love I channeled Harvey Keitel as "The Wolf" in Pulp Fiction, who warned: "Let's not start sucking each other's dicks quite yet." I said we have to serve the real America. Sarah Palin's America. Make Hillary the VP. Win first, sort the rest out later.
Randy Kennedy admits his attraction to Barack based on his "cosmopolitan ethos." Who's ever been elected on that? JFK one because of good ol fashioned machine politics and corruption. You can play the philospher king and install the audacity of hope as state religion after you win. Before, what even Randy, my role model gadlfy understates, even deep between the lines of his Post piece, is that we are a nation of tribes. Look at Gangs of New York below. Again, another indication that Martin Scorsese is a genuis. America was born in the streets. That was his thesis. That's what's real. That's what Barack and the legions of what blogger Field Negro calls "Obamaholics" just do not get. It is the surface manifestation of the crud beneath our glitter.
How else could a silver spoon moron like Dubya be elected? Or can you explain Dick Cheney? How is that creation science is even mentioned without a snicker when faced with, well, biochemistry, advanced genetics, etc.? Because what tribe or alliance of tribes--as unlikely as Ivy League Wall Streeters and Wal Mart Moms--wins, rules. There is no right or wrong. There is what the winner says. Iran is the biggest threat to mankind since Hitler. Putin is an ally...and controls oil and natural gas pipelines coming out of Central Asia. Sarah Palin's daughter, her husband's religious-political proclivities, etc. are none of anyone's business. China does not run our economy; China is good for us. High fructose corn syrup is god's gift to America, and oil drilling and SUVs are our birthright These are the tribal axioms of the tribe which got it's act together and won, despite being out-numbered and out-brained. These, we must obey. The Swift Boat alumni, Fox News, bloggers, Limbaugh, preachers, et al will beat the tribal drums. Even as the Oz-like curtain's drawn open on our economic carnival show this week. So what? John McCain got it. Barack is getting it, only too late.
Sarah Palin is most women. Women who weep in pride when their dullard sons join the military, not when Carrie Bradshaw marries "Big" in a new pair of Manolos. Her daughter is most girls. Teen pregancy and promiscuity is another tribe's problem. Gossip Girl really is how New York looks, lives. Might as well be. For it is the make believe on this surface of glitter. We, not the Palins are living in The Matrix...
Tribe implies constituency. Yuppies and a few co-eds and black folks and a reformed Rockefeller Republicans are not a constituency. Palin's tribe lives on the surface, revels in it. We think Elysium's just beneath. Back in 1984, MTV VJ Martha "Quim" (hehehe) Quinn asked Bruce Springsteen about how the GOP (Reagan Campaign) and George Will hijacked the true meaning of his iconic Born in the USA. After usual crap about it being an underlying patriotic in spirit tune (about the common man's plight) he paused and then mused that many listeners would be prone to take the GOP propaganda meaning--even his own fans. Why? Because they really have nothing else to hold on to. The Boss, as national philosopher. Explains why you'd charge rifled muskets at Gettyburg. Even explains why Tim Conway's better than Richard Pryor. Or my old neighbor, an Air Force bird-Colonel who himself channels Sterling Hayden's General Jack D Ripper character from Dr. Strangelove who says that Palin and her hubby represent "white trash sensibilities." But she is the nominee, and he must support her vigorously. "They'll have cow if those other people win," he said over the mail boxes. "Not Senator Obama himself. Or Joe Biden. I respect them. I used to liaze with the Clinton White House through the Joint Chiefs, recall, bck when I was a daisy fresh captain." Like Sterling Hayden he went on to say that Barack hadn't the head for "strategic thought." But he never mentioned Barack's race (in deference to me?), nor did he identify "those other people" or "They." Plenty of white folks, of Wall Street greed, even bankers and drug company moguls and oil men etc. in the Democratic fold. He wasn't talkign about blacks per se as the other people. But the They was clearly the real America. The people who need to cling to that surface glitter and who whisper about the rot. That tribe who will mobilize 'round Sarah, hell, even if it comes out she killed someone with an unlicensed handgun. Think about that one. Prophetically he went on to say that his cousin made the statement that black males with whom he played football and went to church (bammas down in the Tidewater) seemed more "genuine" than Obama. "Do you believe that?" I asked. "I guess I'm an oddity, too." He replied, "No not to me, but I'm not typical." And well it should be. We are a nation of tribes. Some loose cannon, some nanipulated by others. Tribes nonetheless.
Folks, finally after all this verbal diarrhea on my part is my point: when Barack loses, not if, it is because John McCain bowed to this reality. It will not be purely because of race, as Randy Kennedy relates. Race is something bound up in the power and history relationships whose tendrils have enmeshed this tribal warfare since white feet hit these shores. It soaks this election heavily, but look, it's not simply about the evil racist old white-haired "Endicott" from In the Heat of the Night, versus the articulate, knight-like Sidney Poitier's "Virgil Tibbs." It's Jackson vs. John Quincy Adams. It's Jefferson versus John Adams. That's why I don't get angry over Palin. Or anything on Fox News and Glenn Beck. They are working for the tribe, and there is nothing more American. I think Randall Kennedy would agree with me.