the following is an essay by J. Sakai regarding Barack Obama and the 2008 primaries; it is also up on the Kersplebedeb website.
PRIMARY LOATHING: Is It Real Or Is It Memorex?
by J. Sakai
You got to hand it to patriarchal capitalism. Just when we thought that the Bushites were on the run, and maybe ku klux klan civilization's day is over, they come up with some stunning new maneuver. Like this man of theirs, Barak Obama. A biologically white woman versus a biologically African-American man wrestling live on television for the... white man's big toilet seat of power? This is a mutant, science-fiction moment. So what is it with the Obama Show, anyhow?
There's a split screen with Obama, the interesting story and the boring story.
We all keep hearing the interesting story, best version probably the distorted one white people tell each other at the bar. Like: His real name is Osama, as in bin Laden, and his exotic early childhood was being dumped by his hippy white mom at an islamic madrassa in Asia that was teaching him jihad against America. Then his white grandparents rescued him, raising him in Hawaii at a snooty prep school where he learned race-mixing and dope smoking. The rest is history. Now he's the latest Black smooth-speaking, ultra-liberal hope to "change" America, to go beyond Jesse and Al in getting even more welfare for them. That's like a funhouse mirror, crazily distorted, but strangely it doesn't matter since Obama's whole exciting ride is always someone's fictional script anyway.
Like, yesterday on the #57 Peterson Ave bus i overheard one white woman college student saying to another: "I read on the internet that his middle name is Hussein. 'Cause he's named after Saddam Hussein! They say he's a terrorist. Wouldn't it be what they really want, to plant one of theirs in our government? But that couldn't be true, could it?" This is a thriller. i mean, capitalist elections are phony anyway, so why not make their scripts as entertaining as the soap operas?
The boring story is his actual life and career, which is about waiting on white capitalism and the corporate right. Not about Black people at all (they're just the stage props, the collateral damage in his work as an agent of white change).
He was here in Chicago for years impersonating a community organizer. The only people he excited were himself and the bosses downtown. Mental note: the phrase "community organizer" calls up images of someone going door to door in a poor community, getting folks to get together to march on city hall and fight the establishment that's oppressing them. That wasn't our guy Obora. Instead of organizing poor people to fight the system, his work with nonprofit projects doing a kind of social work, mostly focused on getting individuals to support the system by registering and becoming Democratic Party voters for candidates like himself. Nope, not "community organizer" but political hustler. Boring.
He was just another sleezebag politician on the make. When he tried to get into Congress by unseating incumbent Rep. Bobby Rush (once the suspect head of the Illinois Black Panther Party), he was crushed like a used paper cup. Next to no one voted for him or cared, either.
Obora had only gotten into our boozy state legislature of clowns and the terminally corrupt, because he ran unopposed. Publicly anointed as her successor by the veteran Black state senator Alice Palmer, he used his legal smarts to suddenly go into court and to get her and the three other Black candidates disqualified off the primary ballot in a last-minute surprise, leaving him as the only choice for Black voters--ah, "democracy", it's so great! No wonder Bush and Cheney want to export it involuntarily it to the world.
Mr. Obora spent seven years in the Illinois state legislature as a loyal underling in the Democratic Party's Daley Machine. Earning his "bones" as a normal capitalist politician. Even his wife, Michelle, had to work as an aide to Mayor Daley. Been there, seen that. It should go without saying that Obama is corrupt up to his fishy gills, and never led any fight against the Daley Machine's ku klux klan in blue or anything else that the business establishment wanted. They whistled, he fetched. There was no "Obama movement" because most Black Chicagoans couldn't care whether he lived or died. Boring.
Newspapers going back over his legislative record can't find anything that stood out except his reluctance to take stands that might significantly cost him future white rightwing support, like abortion rights (where he just refused to vote one way or the other on contested abortion rights bills). There was no "Obama for President" talk, because he was just another unimportant liberal politician going along with the big bosses. Although he always says how his childhood experiences in the muslim world make him better able to handle the u.s. empire's international affairs, Obama has hushed up about how when he decided to run for president, his faithful Black staffers who were muslims were fired the next day. See, in capitalism there are no loyalties, only interests. Boring.
But who woulda thought that out of all this, a mutant presidential election would come? Shows, when you get past the endless sea of white men in suits, they can always come up with a better tv script. Again, what's most interesting is what white men's dirty tantrum culture is hitting at with their Obama doll.
Start with a simple fact. Obora has always been a mostly white phenomena. He achieved fame as the first ever Black president of the 104 year-old student Harvard Law Review, which is the most prestigious position that any law student in the u.s. can have. This led directly to his being offered a book contract for what became the best-selling, Dreams From My Father. Interesting enough, Obama wasn't the main liberal candidate for that fiercely contested Harvard Law post. He became the secret candidate of the rightwing Republicans, who didn't have enough votes to win for themselves, but believed Obama's offer that if they supported him and he won, he would always give them a chance to influence decisions. To this day many of his most outspoken supporters are white Republicans, often from the party's rightwing.
To more sophisticated white racists, Obama is like the second coming of Jesus. They love him because he's the long-awaited coming that will seal their triumph over American culture...the liberal Clarence Thomas!
After Obama's Iowa upset, conservative columnist George Will said on ABC's "Nightline": "The two big losers tonight are probably Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton." In other words, it was Black people who were the big losers in Obama's victory. Former conservative u.s. education secretary Bill Bennett also said that night on CNN, Obama "has taught the black community you don't have to act like Jesse Jackson; you don't have to act like Al Sharpton. You can talk about the issues. Great dignity. And this is a breakthrough."
Hey, this is an easy one to figure. Jesse and Al are great talkers (far better than Obora), but mostly are just "doing for self". Al is one of the only old protest leaders left who can still talk that talk and sass the establishment, but neither are anything like militant, much less revolutionary. But these two guys are too Black for most whites. Because their base, their "home", is in the Black community that they rep. Unlike Obama. Who, according to Obama's campaign supporters on the white right like Bill Bennett, has made a "breakthrough" for Black people, by having "great dignity" and discussing "issues" that no Black people by implication could do before him. Exposes what they really think of Black people.
It's hard to remember that only a few months ago, last year, Black voters here polled for Hillary overwhelmingly after a year of Obama's campaigning for president in his own state. Black women voters in his backyard polled for Hillary three-to-one. Refuting the easy assumption that race automatically threw the Black Nation into Obama's operation.
There has been a media and political juggernaut that sprang seemingly out of nowhere. And from that came a big bandwagon. But it isn't any mystery when day after day Obama gets heavily slanted positive coverage in Republican newspapers and television networks. Endorsed by the conservative Republican Party hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, which loves Obama while simultaneously conducting a public campaign in its pages to criminalize and eventually imprison most of the other Democratic Party leadership in Chicago. Major white businessmen and politicians jostled in line to praise and declare for Obama before most of the Black community did. This is an establishment story.
Lots of media coverage about his "silver tongue", his gifts as a speaker, but little media coverage to the fact that the Democratic foreign policy establishment overwhelmingly moved directly into the Obama campaign in 2006, right at the beginning. They never were for Hillary.
Like Anthony Lake, who was assistant secretary of state for Africa and then national security advisor. Lake is one of imperialism's most dangerous minds, as the bureaucratic manager who led the u.s. switchover from a Cold War agenda to a global neo-colonial agenda. When Britain and most of NATO still viewed the liberation war in Zimbabwe as an anti-communist anti-terrorist security priority, Lake understood that the u.s. empire had to switch sides and just bribe the Afrikan opposition. Abandoning the white Rhodesian regime, Lake led the Carter administration right into supporting into power and buying out Robert Mugabe, the dictatorial chief of the Z.A.N.U. Afrikan guerrillas who were supposedly Maoist revolutionaries. Lake arranged for Mugabe to tour Harlem and embrace president Carter for the press cameras ( Mugabe even told reporters that if only Carter would move to Zimbabwe, they would make him their president). Lake also supervised the u.s. military invasion of Haiti, to remove an elected populist government and reinstall the death squads, drug gangs and secret police of the Little Papa Doc era. In the name of "democracy", of course. He and Obama are practically brothers ideologically.
The Obama team also includes establishment player "Zbig" Brzezinski, also a former national security advisor, who helped launch the multi-billion dollar u.s. effort to create a rightwing international islamist guerrilla movement to topple the Russian takeover in Afghanistan. Then there is Harvard's Sarah Sewall, a former defense department official who specializes in covering up human rights issues for the West. Sewell wrote the introduction to u.s. general Petraeus' army/marine corps counterinsurgency handbook that is the new guide for all u.s. soldiers worldwide. (Obama fits right in there). And many more insiders in the corridors of power in Washington...
The illuminati of u.s. foreign policy on the liberal side helped build the Obama campaign and give it weight, while only the somewhat battered ("I didn't know that I was Jewish.") Madeline Albright stands by Hillary. The foreign policy establishment hates Hillary because she really has no foreign policy, only opportunistic permanent campaign tactics. While the illuminati want an activist u.s. policy to aggressively intervene & reshape the world to fit American interests. Obama, who famously declared his willingness to attack Pakistan--but who refused to march with Black youth against white racism in Jena--is their Frankenstein-style project.
After Senator Ted Kennedy started campaigning for Obama, the media began repeating some fool's enthusiastic brainstorm about how Obama was "the Black Kennedy". Which is like more science-fiction. Then, 1960s-era white politicians started telling the media how Obama is the "only" statesman they've seen since John F. Kennedy who was so charismatic and inspiring to hope for change. All this is obviously mostly ruling class propaganda (like the by now enshrined Chris Rock and Toni Morrison bullshit that Bill Clinton was "the first Black President"--you mean, "the first white-racist-Black-President"?). But what can we learn from "the Black Kennedy" thing, anyway?
What no one is saying is that there are practical reasons why JFK's career became like a wildfire in the Black community. And any real comparison with Obora isn't too complimentary to the latter.
While he was running for president, Kennedy made his support for the civil rights movement clear. That was like "the world turned upside down" back then. Remember, no u.s. president had even so much as publicly opposed lynching for close to seventy-five years, until Franklin D. Roosevelt did so in 1938 (after six years in office, and after he was politically invincible). Civil rights is so tamed & taken for granted now, that people don't know how revolutionary it was in its early days when it was free to fight.
When the Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr. was arrested and taken into a Southern jail during the campaign, real fears for his safety were widespread in the Black community. Senator Kennedy phoned the local white authorities, warning them that Dr. King's physical safety had to be protected while the Senator's staff arranged for Dr. King's release. He then called Rev. King Senior and Coretta King, knowing that they would be up in the middle of the night worrying and waiting for news about their son, to tell them that he had moved to protect and free the younger King. No major white politician had ever done anything like that before for any Black family. That was a lightning bolt politically.
And after he was elected, John F. Kennedy had the civil rights division of the u.s. justice department set up an unpublicized, special 24-7 hotline for Southern civil rights workers. Young women and men who were in immediate physical danger could phone collect at any time, and the white Kennedy staffers in Washington would try and get state police to escort them out of the situation (this actually worked more often than not). This was a level of involvement in Black rights that no big white politician had ever done before. To think that Black voters supported the Kennedys then because of his "personal charisma", is really insulting to their intelligence, and way underestimates how big the real changes were that they were forcing on the white politicians and all their empire. Compared to this real life drama, in which JFK was a major risktaker, a bold and ruthless player of change, Obama and his supposed charisma are a pretty tiny thing.
It isn't that folks in the struggle back then thought Kennedy was on our side. We were young and naive, not schizophrenic. Just that for a few years, there were three sides at play. It was the Black Nation banging against the violent Southern segregationists and their Northern counterparts (such as the Daley Machine in Chicago). In the middle was the Kennedy Administration, maneuvering to gain from the violent domestic war while ultimately wanting control over it. Kennedy tried to co-opt the civil rights movement while pushing for modernized white supremacy by gradual desegregation.
As we know, the Kennedys used their influence and money to pressure the "Big Six" civil rights leaders to secretly meet with them and agree to stop upsetting America with militant actions. In return, the Kennedys would set up a slush fund for them to expand their budgets and concentrate on winning voting rights, which would add more Democratic Party voters. Local groups that didn't go along would be arrested and violently repressed, while Kennedy acted like he didn't know anything about it.
The once outlaw civil rights movement, a political movement literally outside and against the law, had become neo-colonized. Kennedy also joined the u.s. empire's foreign policy managers in trying to invade Cuba, really invading Vietnam, and ratcheting up the Cold War "missile race" with Russia. So JFK was into "change", all right. His "changes" were the oppression that millions had to rise up against. That's Obama's role model, but he's probably too weak to even try to live up to that.
Some activists are saying that Obama "sold out", which makes as little sense as saying that Bill Clinton "sold out". Some guys are exercising their right of humor by calling him "50percent". And when Jesse blurted out earlier that Obora thinks he's white, we all understood Jesse's wave. But that wasn't really accurate, either. Obama truly, genuinely is African-and-American biologically if anybody on earth is. And since, as Jesse said a while back, the Black community is a community of inclusion not exclusion, Obama may not be typically Black but he has membership. What Barak Obama is not part of is the historic Black Nation, that was forged in the furnace of centuries of slavery and rebellion, with shared working class communal values, that over centuries developed its own culture of resistance fighting towards liberation.
That's why white people--in surveys, the richer you are, the higher your class, the more you love Barak O.--want him as a public signpost to the future. President Clinton's old main political advisor, Dick Morris, wrote with evil hope that after Obama's triumphal debut, "race is no longer a factor in American politics." Obora projects no grievances against the white power, no angers, no edge, no loyalty to his people, no feeling of any debt owed by the past sufferings of the oppressed, no wild and subversive creativity, nothing that made the color Black so feared by patriarchal capitalism. He's "clean", as one u.s. senator infamously blurted out. He's part of 21st century capitalism's new useful hybrids, who are synthetic people.
So to the corporate and government and political establishment, there are only upsides to pushing Obama the synthetic person. He's an "all-purpose cleanser."
Doubtless, some conservative white men were crossing over and voting for Obama in the primaries and caucuses to piss in the well, to create a possibly weaker Democratic presidential campaign. Some of these Republicans might be hoping for a big white racist backlash against a strange African-American seizing the white man's house. Other conservatives were only too happy to push Obama forward if that meant trampling on a woman's face. No lack of woman-hating in this campaign. Even the tv networks felt free to let their woman-hating rip, well covered up as it was by sugary praise for Obama. According to the CBS/New York Times poll, from January 23, 2008 to the end of February 2008, Obora's support among white men skyrocketed from 23% to 61%. Explaining much about his primary surge. While Hillary's support among white men only fell from 38% to 33%. In other words, roughly half of white men polled wanted a white male prezy --Edwards, whoever--but switched to the only other male left standing rather than have Hillary pollute the men's room. And that's the liberal men's primary.
Some of the establishment see a President Obama as the perfect public image, as America Inc. thinks of repairing all the damage done to its interests in Africa, the Middle East, Asia and Latin America during the crazy Bush regency.
But for the capitalist establishment, most of all there must be New Orleans, standing like a bombed city on the plain, wrapped in towering clouds of shock and destruction, spilling refugees in all directions, visible as a wound from across the world. A year ago, New Orleans was the biggest story about the Black Nation. A story of ethnic cleansing by the u.s. empire, with no right of return by its internal refugees. Like lost Palestine. Today, after the establishment's Operation Obama has seized the headlines and the world's imagination in scripted living color, the u.s. looks so fresh and exciting. It's really diverting. And who can remember about New Orleans, anyhow?