Monica Roberts

Barack Needs A Pee Wee Reese To Step Up

Filed By Monica Roberts | August 25, 2008 5:00 PM | comments

Filed in: Politics
Tags: 2008 Election, Barack Obama, LGBT history, Monica Roberts, politics, race, race relations

The Democratic Convention is kicking off in Denver today (wish I could be there).jackie robinson and Pee wee reese.jpg

Since the Beijing Olympic Games just ended, I'm still in a sports oriented frame of mind. I tend to focus on baseball after the All-Star break but with the Olympics happening, my sporting attention has been devoted to that quadrennial sports festival.

I was watching a forum on C-SPAN this morning sponsored by Politico and The Denver Post, which had as participants Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr (D-IL) Rep. Jim Clyburn (D-SC) Dr. Cornel West, Tavis Smiley and former Virginia governor L. Douglas Wilder, the first African-American elected governor since Reconstruction.

During the commentary, Rep. Jackson said something that Rep. Clyburn cosigned on that I totally agree with.

Barack needs a Pee Wee Reese.

Pee Wee Reese, for those of you not familiar with the Jackie Robinson story, was his roommate and team captain of the Brooklyn Dodgers when he broke into the major leagues in 1947. Reese refused to sign a petition that would have led to a threatened Dodger player boycott if Robinson joined the team. His friendship helped Robinson not only ease the transition with his Dodger teammates, but eventually the entire National League. They also became one of the most potent double play combination in the sport during the 40's and 50's.

One of the restrictions that Jackie was under when he became the first African-American major league player was that for three years he couldn't fight back or lose his temper, no matter what was done or said to him.

During his first road trip to play the Cincinnati Reds, the fans there taunted him unmercifully with racist slurs during pre-game warm-ups. Pee Wee walked up to him, engaged Robinson in conversation and put his arm around his shoulder, a gesture that silenced the ignorant fans. During that difficult three years as their friendship grew, Reese helped keep Robinson's spirits up as Jackie's brilliant play began to speak for him.

As a matter of fact, outside Louisville Slugger Field, the minor league ballpark here, there's a bronze statue of Robinson and the Louisville native at the entrance to the stadium capturing that moment.

What we are witnessing right now is a remix of the Jackie Robinson situation played out in this presidential political campaign, but substitute Sen. Barack Obama for Jackie Robinson.

senator obama_flag.jpgHe is trying to break the color line at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He's capable of running a negative campaign, but has to run a positive one because an "angry" Black man won't get elected president. He also has to walk a political tightrope that John McCain doesn't. He can't appear to be "too Black" for the white and Latino/a electorate or "too White" to the African-American community. He can't make mistakes because as a "First Black" he gets judged far more harshly than a white person in the same position. He also doesn't get the luxury of responding angrily to obviously stupid, racist or asinine MSM questions.

We have already heard the idiocy expressed by some disgruntled Hillary supporters that they will vote for McCain since Hillary wasn't the primary winner or chosen as his running mate. We haven't even begun to see the worst of the racist rhetoric that will be thrown at him by the right wing and the GOP even though they're already slinging their code worded racist slogans courtesy of Faux News and the Right Wing Noise Machine.

  • "Presumptuous," "arrogant" or "elitist" (think 'uppity n****r)
  • "Not ready to lead" (the same coded rap on our intelligence they used to say about African-American quarterbacks, coaches, managers or CEO's)
  • "Lacks experience" (so did the resident-in-thief, Bill Clinton, Ronald Reagan, and Jimmy Carter before they won the presidency)

What is needed at this juncture is a Pee Wee Reese to step up in the Democratic Party, put their arm around Barack's (and Michelle's) shoulders and say emphatically this man is alright and he'll make an excellent president. That alone will help allay the fears of all the (mostly white) people who want to do the right thing and vote for Obama but need that reassurance.and validation from another white person that this man is okay.

sen. joe biden.jpgIt's probably one of the reasons why Sen. Joe Biden is now the VP nominee instead of Sen. Clinton or some other Democratic woman like Governor Sebelius. Sen. Biden can do what Barack can't in this campaign - be the attack dog trashing the so-called "maverick" at every opportunity.

But Sen. Biden can't be the only one. If the Democratic Party is serious about having the Obama family move into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue on January 20, then we will need multiple Pee Wee Reeses to step up. The bottom line is that, as an African-American, I'd like to remind you that we are the most loyal constituency in the Democratic party over the last 40 years. We have voted for Democrats of all ethnicities during that time period, even for people we weren't all that enthused about.

And as part of that loyal constituency, we expect the same or greater level of reciprocal support for Sen. Obama from you as white Democrats that we African-American Democrats have shown for Lyndon Johnson, Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Jimmy Carter, Walter Mondale, Michael Dukakis, Bill Clinton, Al Gore and John Kerry.

I not only see the big picture in terms of Supreme Court judges, whether a Democrat or Republican is sitting in the most powerful office in the country directly affects the quality of my life and how much cash ends up in my wallet .

It also speaks to something I've said for quite some time now. If you want progressive policies, you have to elect progressive politicians to enact those policies.

John McCain is NOT a "maverick"; he's a committed conservative. Anybody that thinks that he'll change or is friendly to GLBT issues is making the same mistake they did eight years ago by allowing themselves to be hoodwinked by George W. Bush and his compassionate conservatism snake oil.

There's no doubt that Barack Obama has the education, the talent, the judgment, charisma and the temperament to lead this country. He is already respected by many world leaders and would do much to restore our tarnished standing in the world.

He is one of our best as African-Americans and the best candidate we've set forth as a party for the office in probably a generation. I'd hate to think that Sen. Obama could possibly lose because of petty jealousies, lack of vision or people still hung up on harboring centuries-old prejudices against African-Americans and not get a chance to show, like Jackie Robinson did a half century earlier, he's got the talent to excel in the presidential game..


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Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 25, 2008 5:21 PM

This is what a McCain or Obama presidency will be like, except it won't be thousands marching, it'll be hundreds of thousands.

ABC (Australia) reports that "In the United States, thousands of anti-war protestors have marched through the city of Denver to the site of the Democratic National Convention.

An estimated 5,000 police and security personnel, including the Secret Service, are on high alert, as helicopters patrol overhead.

The Denver convention falls on the 40th anniversary of the 1968 Democratic convention in Chicago which erupted in violence as anti-Vietnam protestors fought running battles with police."

Obama and McCain = war = Nixon.

It's sad that the fact that Biden's a white man was probably part of Team Obama's calculus, but we can't escape the world we're living in.

Perdue,
As usual, you got it wrong.

McCain + Republicans = war

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 26, 2008 6:17 AM

Roberts says “Perdue, As usual, you got it wrong. McCain + Republicans = war”

It’s that history thing again Roberts. If you had any inkling at all about US history you wouldn’t even try to excuse the war policies of either party or their terrible consequences.

You’d know that the US attacked Spain to steal Puerto Rico and murdered tens of thousand of freedom fighters in the Philippines. You’d know that Wilson campaigned to enter WWI on the side of England and France to protect the war loans American bankers made to them and that he invaded Mexico to stifle their Revolution. You’d know that Harding and Coolidge ordered several attacks on Latin American countries. You’d know that that Kennedy attacked Cuba to end their Revolution and that LBJ attacked Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos and the Dominican Republic. And you’d know that Clinton and Bush are responsible for the deaths of tens of thousands of Afghans and over a million Iraqis. It's not war, it's genocide. You’d know that in all these wars, including the present one that Republicans and Democrats supported one another’s wars.

Apparently you don’t know any of that. The only thing you do know appears to be limited to “My Country, right or wrong”.

To me, Barack Obama's not perfect, but he is probably the best Presidential candidate that can emerge from the present primary and caucus system. Whatever his experience, he has managed his campaign well. I don't believe for a moment that Obama will continue the war any longer than necessary - I recognize that there will have to be an "Iraqization" of it, and that we will continue to have obligations in Afghanistan. The high security is not there because Obama asked for it (bodyguards and security personnel are more a hassle for those being protected, than for those being protected from), but because those are the requirements of the times in which we live.

We never get the chance to vote for the "perfect" candidate, and probably, if the Bilerico readers were to vote on the "perfect" candidate, there would be many choices. You vote for the best of the two. Comparing Barack Obama to John McCain is akin to comparing Albert Schweitzer to Albert DeSalvo. Obama may not be perfect, but like JFK and Bill Clinton, he's smart enough to learn in office and listen to his advisors. Everything in McCain's demeanor and past indicates that he is unable to listen to anyone else, does not take advice well if it is in conflict with his preconceived notions, is apt to react rashly and be driven by anger rather than reason, and is as dumb as a box of rocks.
It's the simplest choice I've had in a Presidential election, and I cast my first Presidential ballot in 1976, so I've cast a few.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 26, 2008 6:12 AM

Polar when you support McCain/Obama style ‘Iraqization’, ‘phased withdrawal’ and continuing the US invasion of Afghanistan you‘re simply supporting a continuation of the war. And it’s extension into Pakistan. a plan favored by both Obama and Biden, even though Pakistan has nukes and Biden calls it the most dangerous country in the world.

Iraq is a rehash of Vietnam. “Vietnamization’ becomes ‘Iraqization’, ‘phased withdrawal’ is the same and Cambodia and Laos become Iran and Pakistan. After Nixon was elected with fake promises to end the war with Vietnamization and phased withdrawal it took seven long years for the Vietnamese resistance and the GI and civilian antiwar movements to compel American withdrawal and the unification of Vietnam.

Saying “You vote for the best of the two” is an admission of defeat. It's not the best of the two it the lesser evil and voting for Obama of McCain conforms to the plans of Halliburton and Texaco to continue and widen the war and of other corporations to pursue even more union busting anti-worker laws like NAFTA and to keep ENDA gutted. It accepts that the GLBT communities are not worth mentioning by name and their joint policy of pandering to bigots. It agrees that working people and farmers in Canada, the US and Latin American will have to undergo more steep declines in our standard of living because of Clintons NAFTA, which both support. Voting for a lesser evil accepts condemning people to death because they both pigheadedly oppose socialized medicine.

The bad news for both parties is that we won't accept it. In fact we’ll fight your parties tooth and nail.

“Comparing Barack Obama to John McCain is akin to comparing Albert Schweitzer to Albert DeSalvo” is a kinda way too 'true believerish' and way over the top. Actually they agree on lots of things from the war, to pandering to christians and on economic issues, to name but a few. There are no substantial differences between them.

Robert Ganshorn Robert Ganshorn | August 26, 2008 5:32 AM

Monica my Dear,

Thank you as always and I hope your conclusions are right. I hope we have finally come to appreciate the value of people rather than flesh tone. I want to believe in the possibility of true international peace. I certainly want to see the United States reevaluate everything about herself because if she does not choose to from within it will be forced from without.

I heard that instead of the tens of thousands of protesters they were expecting, there were about 1,000 in town. From what I am hearing here, this won't be an issue.
On Thursday evening, when Senator Obama will be addressing upwards of 75,000 people in Invesco Field at Mile High Stadium, it will fall on the anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King's, "I Have A Dream" speech.
From some of the speeches I heard at the recent National Stonewall convention, we in the LGBT community have good reason to be optimistic that there will be supportive legislation signed by Mr. Obama. He fully understands the LGBT community and its needs. I believe they will be mentioned Thursday evening because he knows that we have dreams, too.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 26, 2008 8:54 AM

shakay, ABC Australia reports that there were 5,000 police and thousands of antiwar demonstrators in Denver.

Your facts may come from news sources accostomed to self-censorship. That's not uncommon since the Paytriot act was passed. Or maybe the Australians were just engaging in a little anti-American reporting. I'll keep reading the foreign press and the left press to get the full story.

Your pro-war dismissal of the antiwar movement is on a par with your shakay, ABC Australia reports that there were 5,000 police and thousands of antiwar demonstrators in Denver.

Your facts may come from news sources accostomed to self-censorship. Thats pretty common since the Paytriot act was passed. Or maybe the Australians were just engaging in a little anti-American reporting. I'll keep reading the foreign press and the left press to get the full story.

Your pro-war dismissal of the antiwar movement is on a par with your deliberate naïveté in projecting your 'dreams' onto a pair of politicians who don't give a rat's ass about the GLBT communities.

Perdue, I grew up in radio. You're not telling me anything my father didn't tell me 20 years ago and was one of the first things as a member of the media he taught us.

My father not only taught me and my siblings to not only never rely on one news source for the information I need to formulate my opinions, but to question what I was hearing, no matter where it comes from and their motivation for framing the story that way.

I have to watch the BBC and CBC just to find out what's happening in my own country and that's sickening.

I also get news from a true and true source you don't get in Australia, the African-American press.

Perdue, I recognize militarily that removal of hundreds of thousands of troops and contractors, along with billions in military paraphernalia, is a logistical nightmare that is going to take time. You can't snap your fingers and have them out in a day. History proved Nixon's "Vietnamization" policy to have been right, although Iraq is a much smaller conflict (about 35% of the troops of Vietnam at peak). I very much remember those difficult times, and while I agree that we never should have waged war in Iraq or Vietnam, the fact remains that the withdrawal must be done in an organized manner. Nixon was wrong on many things, but on Vietnamization, he was right.

I also recognize that we have an entirely justifiable conflict in Afghanistan. The Taliban want control back, and they should not be allowed to have it. Pakistan, next door, as you pointed out, is unstable and has nukes. I'd rather have Hamid Karzai running Afghanistan than the Taliban.

I will point out that Obama IS a Christian, as is his wife. I am a Christian, and I'm proud to be one. Stating your beliefs and faith is not pandering. I will also point out that it is entirely possible to be a member of the GLBT community, or support rights for the GLBT community, and be a Christian; in fact, it's not the least bit unusual, at least where I live. I would hazard to say that many Bilerico posters and readers are Christians. The great majority of Americans happen to be Christian, and it is unreasonable, politically, not to accept the fact that they exist. Christians are not going to vote as a bloc for the GOP this time, although the fundies will; polls indicate that moderate Christians are more concerned about the economy, about health care, about ending the war, and about "green" issues, and less about abortion and glbt rights, than they have been in the past 20 years. Obama has made his support for our rights clear, and that is fine with me. McCain has made it clear that he does not. Christians are recognizing that changes must be made, and McCain won't make them.

George Bush was selected (not elected) in 2000, as a result of the outsized ego of one man: Ralph Nader, and those fools who voted for him in states like Florida and New Hampshire. In particular, in Florida, if 20% of Nader voters had voted for Gore, the past 8 years would have been very, very different. Then as now, fools were running around saying "there's no difference". I have one word for that: BALDERDASH! There are no end of differences between Obama and McCain, starting with IQ and working its way down from there. The question Rick Warren asked both on the subject of Supreme Court justices illustrated that with ample clarity. I stand by my statement that they have little in common, other than the fact that they're running for President and are both members of the Senate.

Bill Perdue Bill Perdue | August 27, 2008 11:01 AM
"Then as now, fools were running around saying "there's no difference". I have one word for that: BALDERDASH!"

Such language!

Here is the only done real difference I can see.
The owners and leaders of the Republican Party are pro-war, anti-worker and saturated with homophobes, racists and misogynists. They depended on the christers, who are anti-GLBT bigots for the most part, to get elected and now they're owned by them. TRepublicans no longer bother to lie about it.

The owners and leaders of the Democratic (sic) Party are pro-war (like you), anti-worker and saturated with homophobes, racists and misogynists. They’re pandering to the christer vote, largely composed of anti-GLBT bigots, and if that group elects them they’ll own them. Democrats have an increasingly hard time lying about it.

McCain and Obama agree on continuing the genocide. The blood of countless deaths will be on their hands, and the hands of their supporters. The antiwar movement is pledged to stop them.

McCain and Obama agree on Free Trade Agreements, opposition to socialized medicine and doing nothing to alleviate poverty.

McCain and Obama both oppose same sex marriage and their parties cooperated to rub out our agenda. They compete for the christist vote.

Lets be clear who we're talking about in terms of these christers. The three abrahamic religions and their various cults share an irrational hatred of GLBT folk. Quakers, unitarians, some Jewish cults and a tiny number of islamist cult leaders are exceptions. All the big cults are our sworn enemies and the difference between the pope and protestant leaders and the Iranian ayatollahs is one of ability to do us harm, not intent.

I can't follow your reasoning on the war. Vietnamization was a total failure if your intent, as ours was, was to end the war and save lives. We didn't give a damn about US commercial and political interest then and we don't now.

Vietnamization and phased withdrawal were failures because the ‘phrases’ were strung out over seven years, involved deliberate terror bombing and massive napalming of civilian targets (that’s why McCain got shot down and punished by the Vietnamese), deliberate and widespread chemical warfare, the invasion of Cambodia and Laos and the collapse of those nations. In short – genocide, just like Iraq.

That's a failure in my book because my sympathies lie with working people, not the rulers of any nation. Nor did Vietnamization save the Quisling government. It fell like a house of cards. Vietnam was reunified and independent. That’s what ended the war then and a similar process will end this one, and the sooner the better because if Obama or McCain are allowed to stay the killing will go on for years, and spread.

"I'd rather have Hamid Karzai running Afghanistan than the Taliban."

Sorry to be blunt Polar, but I have a newsflash for you. You're an American and it's none of your damn business who rules Afghanistan or any other country. The Afghans, Palestinians, Iraqis, Pakistanis and the Iranians are the only ones who can win against the islamists and the ruling rich of their nations and the longer the US is in the region the longer that will take.