Saturday, January 05, 2008

Hillary’s "House Negroes"

By Bernie Quigley for The Free Market News Network

I’s a free nigra, just the same I follow Massa Frank. Pomp, the Free Negro side kick of Frank Reade, Jr., pulp fiction adventurer of the 1870s

We are people who were formally Africans who were kidnapped and brought to America. Our forefathers weren’t the pilgrims. They didn’t land on Plymouth Rock. The rock was landed on us. Malcolm X

One of the most interesting aspects of the Iowa results is the surprise and enthusiasm of conservative commentators – David Brooks and even Rush Limbaugh – for Barack Obama. Perhaps they are not old enough to experience an authentic political awakening like that which occurred with the rise of John F. Kennedy.

Ronald Reagan is their closest memory, but that was different. That was stabilization and a return to reason by a country marred by chaos and assassination which for a dozen years before was making America ungovernable. We are at a critical change now like that between Eisenhower and Kennedy and again between Kennedy and Reagan. Those of us who heard the Obama stump speech a month before anticipated win in Iowa and New Hampshire. Those of us who brought our kids: Mine had never, not for a moment, shown any interest in any politician. But they rushed the stage after Obama’s stirring oration; legend now even before the New Hampshire primary.

Perhaps the long campaign cycle has done some good after all. It took a long time to get to know Ron Paul who at the end of the day gutted what was left of the Republican Party, leaving its entrails strewn across the Plains. It took a long time to get to know Obama. With Paul, the heart which brought forth the Republican rise of Ronald Reagan has shifted. Ron Paul is the new ride, leaving Fox News, the Rottweiler Republicans, Richard Viguerie and the Christian Right in the dust. And with Obama the political world begins again.

In hindsight, Senator Clinton was possibly the best contender for Obama. Her husband has brought the silvered Everly Brothers hair up here at every instance and it is clear by now to everyone up here that this is Bill’s ride. His is the Elvis curse; he refuses to leave the building and will be a continuing embarrassment to himself and to the country- like Elvis in Winter in the god suit in Los Vegas - to the bitter end.

Polls up here and elsewhere show Hillary to be the candidate for women over 40 – 45% of whom support her in New Hampshire. The ads that come to my mailbox every day to pitch Hillary always feature such a woman; neither old nor young, neither particularly smart looking nor dumb. But all white, all women, all from the same moment in time between old and new but not either.

Clinton’s was exclusively a generational package. It scorned the older generation and kicked it aside – including the wise men and great men in the party like John Kenneth Galbraith and George Kennan. And it is fully apparent to the young ‘uns that they have no relevance to the Clintons. Voters under 30 voted 60% for Obama in Iowa.

Reports up here in New Hampshire now are all about the calm in Obama’s camp while the Clintons are in a panic. As always, they send in Bill – described this week as a “relic” by one of the papers. 40% percent of Hillary’s bid was the free ride which came from marketing potential by venues like CNN and Fox – CNN had at least three stories about Hillary “not running” even before the ’06 races. It’s gonna be a hard rain with these guys. But if you watch generational demographics which would occur naturally on say Daily Kos, a young person’s political blog, Hillary had a zero rating as of last summer and the Clintons never had a chance.

Like the tides, the generations cannot be stopped: When Obama passed Clinton last April in fundraising; when Mobil gas put an Obama look alike in their gas ads last February, the Fates had cast their spell and even the Hunka Hunka Burnin’ Love can’t save the crusty vessel.

The Democrats began a new ride in the world when Jim Webb was elected to the Senate in Virginia in ’04. It is Webb, who would make a great VP with Obama; it is Tammy Duckworth, an Iraq war veteran who lost a race for the Senate in Illinois; it is Mark Warner, who pioneered “post partisanship” or “across the isle” politics in Virginia before Arnold stole the fire; it is John Lynch, governor of New Hampshire who follows in Warner’s path with enormous success; it is Joe Sestak of Pennsylvania and Carol Shea-Porter of New Hampshire. It was a small flame cupped in the hands in ’06 before the Clintons attempted to snuff it out.

Too late. History begins with one person and only one or two are remembered: Washington, Lincoln, Grant and in our time Eisenhower, Kennedy, Reagan. And now Obama and in a year – maybe by February – no one else will matter.

Bill, Hillary and myself grew up with the fierce people; the best and most beautiful among us died before 30 and if they didn’t die of their own passion they were gunned down, like Malcolm X and John Lennon. But strangely enough, the fierce ones, more than the rest of us, seemed to die anyway, like Otis Redding, killed in a plane crash and Jerry Rubin, run over by a car. So today it is odd – even tiring – to see a generation remembering itself in a selection of blue-eyed, blond mousy hair, slightly over middle-aged women who all looked like they went to Mount Holyoke or Wellesley – segregated schools for rich white girls back when – pitching Hillary for President. In Obama’s great stump speech he says they want him to wait until the passion is boiled out and this, they say, is experience. (Experience? Was not the medical health care management plan of Hillary the totality of her White House experience? Was it not the greatest federal management fiasco of modern times before Katrina? Was her fierce support of the war on Iraq for two years leadership?)

But what I want to know is how can a group of black Baptist preachers in the South unite to show their support for Hillary at the historic moment when a black man is running a juggernaut, in the words of David Brooks, to the Presidency of the United States. In the days of the fierce people, Malcolm X, the fiercest of the lot, used to call people like this “House Negroes.” They are free men, as Pomp says, just the same they vote for massa. He’s got the silver hair. He plays the saxophone. And he loves the colored girls don’t cha know. And to show their loyalty, they’ll even vote for the Arkansas governor’s missus. “He loved his master more than the master loved himself,” Malcolm said of the House Negro, and identified fully with the master: “If the master was sick, the House Negro would say, ‘What’s the matter, boss, we sick?’” That will be something to tell the grandchildren.

When I saw Obama speak up here last month I knew our country and the world which has been waiting us for the last ten or more years was on to a new awakening. And the three people who came to my mind were the fierce people who died in their moment way back: Otis Redding, Malcolm X and Jack Kennedy. They are all different but they shared a moment that lit something which remains: Otis Redding brought the soul of a sleeping South; a soul which had formed faith, love and oratory in the South white and black for hundreds of years to Detroit and to the rest of us and made us a part of that soul; Malcolm who was not afraid to die and not afraid to live; the Field Negro, he called himself, who came to push the House Negroes out of their fawning, complacent and submissive spot in the white man’s parlor. And Jack Kennedy who brought élan and world spirit and a change in America from Head to Heart.

These three were prelude to the moment; to this moment which awakened in the world again last week in Iowa. And we will be finished for awhile with politicians who hire technicians and stylists to teach them how to smile. And the world will begin again with Obama whose smile reveals an inner state of joy as its soul’s beginning and primal life force.

The first President we have had who had that smile since JFK.


Citizen Ben said...

A beautiful essay Bernie - something of vision and poetry. Thanks for sharing it.

Anonymous said...

Great article. You have forgotten that Howard Dean has put people in every state of the union to make sure Dems win. He began the "Take Back the Country" effort. We will win if the machines aren't hacked. I sure would like to know where Karl and the Texas boys are right now.

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