With “Coal Black And The Sebben Dwarves” As The Cartoon Short Before The Feature...
If you watched the Republican National Convention a week and a half ago—and by cracky, it was entertaining, in that “There's an oil slick on the racetrack...wonder if the drivers'll see it in time?” kind of way—there were things you could not help but notice.
There was the utter non-discussion of any specifics insofar as policy. Venom only...no curing medicine to speak of.
There was something under “State Property / Troma Studio”-level staging and production values.
And...there was the usual quadrennial paucity of Black faces in the arena..
But on that latter note, this year's deficiency of darkitude was especially pronounced. Unlike previous years, there were virtually NO congressional representatives or elected officials of merit to even consider using as obvious “chips in the cookie”. We are a LONG way from the halcyon days of the mid 90's where there were gobs (meaning like...three or four, max) of
woefully misguided, self-haterific embarrassments prominent Black Republicans all too happy to smile and gleefully reflect video lights from their shiny brows as they showed and proved for the party. Time was, you couldn't go six hundred feet at a gathering like last week's convention without running into some silly, misguided Negro—there were the likes of a J.C. Watts, or a Gary Franks proudly cake-walking about. If you got lucky, you'd see a Larry Elder and a Ken Hamblin shooting “Who can debase thyself more?” darts at one another.
But those days are gone, as John McCain would say, “My friends”.
Every election cycle for the last 25 years, we have been told / threatened / hyped to all holy hell about how that year was going to be the “Year of the Black Republican”, and how seemingly only through that prism could a Black person possibly eke a path to high elective office.
The 2006 mid-term elections was to have been the breakthrough moment for all this afro-ed aspiration come-to-fruition. You may remember that as the year the GOP's Ken Mehlman was put in charge of leading a trio of naifs through the rocky shoals of the election season where they would emerge as the victorious Neo-Negro-Cons who would change everything for the GOP after their decades of outright hatred and then benign neglect of Black folk and their issues. That trio consisted of Ohio's Republican gubernatorial candidate, and king of ballot chucking and fucking, the odious Secretary of State Kenny Blackwell, the barely opaque, glad-handing goof of a Pennsylvania Senate candidate, and former Steeler great Lynn Swann, and lastly...Maryland's Lt. Governor Michael Steele—he of the oleaginous personality and hyper-willingness to badly buck-dance to any tune his racist party masters played.
This trio—“Three The Soft Way” were championed by a grasping Mehlman and a semi-clairvoyant GOP. I don't doubt for a second that with their predilection for focus-grouping everything under the fucking sun that their marketing guru Frank Luntz didn't come across the factoid that people were more willing than they'd ever been to vote Blacks into high office than ever before, and that knowing that, it would be the ultimate coup if the next batch were Republicans.
If you close your eyes, you can almost see the GOP rubbing their hands together with glee and malevolent hubris alá “The Simpsons'” Monty Burns over this grand plan's potential success.
But then, as it always does...reality intrudes. That trio—“The NO-Jays” had absolutely no pull in the Black community, finding themselves so reviled by “folks” that were they set upon by cops “Rodney King”-style and then spotted by passing Black folk, said people'd look at who was catching hell—and think for a minute or two before maybe saying “Hey...that ain't right.” And with nary a scintilla of “soul” to them to even pique the interest of the grasping “guilty” or the open-minded O-something amongst White folks, their respective campaigns were D.O.A.
We could have told them it would go that way. In fact—we did. Or rather, Steve Gilliard did. Steve was relentless in his pillorying of 'The Three Bourgies' (and was not alone in doing so Heh-heh...)and rightly predicted that they would be as popular as a second half-season of the UPN's infamous “The Secret Diary of Desmond Pfeiffer”. What Steve pointed out repeatedly was the simple fact that these charlatans' willingness to suck up to a party that utterly hates people who look like them would read to even a half-witted voting public as a major disconnect with reality, and thus—“color” these clowns as laughably out of touch. And as far as the opinion of African American voters went, “Negroes” (to use the dated Stanley Crouch-ism” ironically) who would play along with the self-hating perfidy these three did are to be shunned, mocked, and given the same level of respect as their racist string-pullers.
It's why Steve went there with the allegedly “brutal” Michael Steele blackface image he ran. You'll note that the loudest cry of “foul” over that came from many of the wingnut blogosphere's biggest known racists and xenophobes—and that's not surprising. Racism is rooted in many things—self-esteem issues, fear, and stupidity paramount among them, and that's something the right has, if you'll pardon the pun..“in spades”. I don't suppose people that stupid would understand much about the history of blackface and its context in terms of Black folks. How it started out with White performers “blacking up” to condescendingly diss while copping the exuberant performance styles in Black culture at the time. And then, seeing their culture being mined for gold in this harsh way, Black performers cannily took the style back, by blacking up themsleves, doubling the effect by slyly mocking those who'd mocked them (while gettin' p-p-p-p-p-paid!) while simply out-performing their one-generation removed burnt-cork brethren as the original targets held the keys to “the style”. Then, as many post-reconstruction White performers gave up the ghost on the practice (it was harder to do than it looked), a few Black artists—some of them quite gifted (like Bert Williams), continued to play the roles, but for mostly affluent White audiences, in effect ceding control back to those who so mercilessly mocked Blacks in the first place. And how Blacks took that sort of “shining” for the man very personally, as those portrayals of docile and dopey Black simpletons / victims before laughing White crowds scanned as something macabre when viewed against the backdrop of the rise of lynchings in early 20th century America—also accompanied many times by laughing White crowds. Black America would eventually savage those who continued these stilted routines, and come to re-define the image of “our own” blacking up to depict those who have betrayed us in the worst way. No. Those so-called “pundits” weren't smart enough to get that. Let me amend that. Some indeed were. And most of them played dumb and shocked and appalled to score cheap “You're a racist, too! Nyah-nyah!” points.
So Steele whined. And bitched. And moaned. Ducking holograms of Oreo™ cookies filling the air like Ack-ack fire while grinning beatifically like the wa-a-a-a-a-a-a-ay-too-happy-to-serve brother on the “Cream Of Wheat™” box.
The “offensive” pic was pulled. Right Blogistan's nature got as hard as times in '29 in excitement, but as usual “petered” out prematurely. Why? Because in the end, fuck a crude Photoshop they pressured the yanking of—that image of Steele, and by extension, Blackwell and Swann was something Black America was seeing in them long before anything Steve altered a single pixel on. Every bigot-enabling speech they made as they campaigned was underscored with sub-sonic and all-too-familiar lame shuffle-taps, and subliminally shot through with befuddled Stepin Fetchit-ed head-scratches every ten frames. You had to be “attuned” a certain way to experience all the “extras”, but yeah...they were there.
Black folks have been attuned to that silly-ass wavelength for-Goddamed-ever.
Let me re-iterate a key point here:
'Racism is rooted in many things—self-esteem issues, fear, and stupidity paramount among them, and that's something the right has, if you'll pardon the pun..“in spades”.
The Steele / Swann / Blackwell “play” as stated, was not the first attempt to rope the richly “melanated” in for the okey-doke. It was merely the latest in a series of attempts. But the attempts fail damn near every time because the perpetrators of the folly—Soft-serve racists—in their hatred of Black people routinely feel that they are so much smarter, and Blacks that much dumber that said Blacks will never see through the obvious chicanery in their trojan-horsing of these sad-assed candidates.
It started in the days of black and white television, in the dawn of the modern propaganda age, but long before elected office was the avenue of deception. In the early 60's you had the supremely talented, but politically deficient stalking horses of a post-baseball Jackie Robinson and a recent heavyweight champion in Floyd Patterson being trumpeted by the powers-that-be as the “sober Negroes” the race should follow behind. Now, this is not to say that Jackie and Floyd were dupes or phonies who didn't believe what they were saying (as you can always find a few in any bunch who will be contrarians, and Jackie would eventually disavow the more bigoted bigwigs in his party), but they were given an especially loud megaphone to pontificate from and thus counter the seismic attitudinal shift that was taking place among Blacks (who were eschewing the moniker “Negro”) in America. Jim Brown, Muhammad Ali, Bill Russell and many of sports' leading lights were taking stands against the corrupt and bigoted power structure, and thus Jackie and Floyd were touted as the beachhead against that.
It failed miserably—with the venerable Robinson being looked on sadly by many as an ancient anachronism in the face of a nascent Black Power movement, and with Patterson unable to counter the electric charisma and diesel-powered fists of a young Muhammad Ali.
Attempts to push like “models” waned a bit during the fierier times of the mid-sixties, but would re-surface in the Reagan era with his lame touting of cabinet member Samuel Pierce as the new iteration of “Approved Negro Du Jour”.
...One of the early, operational versions of the transistorized Negro conserva-bot. His immediate forebear was the spark-sputtering prototype rolled out during the Reagan administration, Samuel Pierce. When his bigoted patrons tried to sell him as the sober-minded Black leader the “community” needed, said community clowned him so hard that the air filled with “Ha-has” like a Peanuts cartoon.
That too would fail, as Pierce had all the charm of a cinder-block, and his championing by Reagan—who was hated by Blacks over his cavalier callousness towards them—would render him further the “tan joke” to those he was pitched to. (Condoleezza Rice was being nurtured at this time for later “use” by the same intelligence-insulting cabal)
Moving to the Bush “41” years, we saw the sad and costly for decades spectacle of the Clarence Thomas appointment to the Supreme Court. I said this about Clarence's installation.
But for the conservative movement, Clarence's ascension was a watershed moment. He was the vanguard, the herald of the coming of the next evolutionary step in “Negrodom”. He was the ‘Professor Anti-Malcolm X” that would lead the new race of Black neo-con mutants into the future—“The Anti-Malcolm X-Men”, if you will. Gifted with special powers, they were—they fairly leaped at you, or rather, were thrown into our laps for us to figure out.
These ballyhooed “Ages of the Black Conservatives!” are the demographic equivalent of the “Age of the Jet Pack!” It's comin! It's comin! It's gonna be all the rage! And then, just like those haughty promises of the jet-pack—(we were all supposed to have 'em, right?) it never came. The dream fizzled. When you do see one—be it a jet-pack or an ascendant Black conservative, it's a rare thing indeed. But it's a show. A singular performance for a gathered few. It takes off, flies for a short distance, lands and then is done—with no practical application in the real world.
Clarence Thomas was the Republicans Black conservative “Jet-Pack”—a freaky contraption that seemed cool in practice, but in the end, led to nothing worth a damn.
It was a half-failure. There was no wave of like-minded (read no-minded) Negroes rushing in on his sluggish draft—but his retrograde ass will be on the court until he can no longer continue. Too long a time for too many.
With the “Contract With America” anomaly, there would be a cascade of two elected Black GOP Reps—the “so lame that it hurts” Watts and Franks mentioned up-post, but Franks couldn't get more than two terms out of his duplicity, and Watts would realize “What the fuck am I doing?” and bail from the House when it became clear he was just a a joke to his GOP colleagues on “The Hill”.
Scoot on ahead to Bush “43” and Sweet God, the wheels come off, the oil pan is ripped loose and the shower of sparks hits the gas tank and blows Black conservatism up like an action movie villain's car. Bush would try desperately to foist a fistful of fools upon us, but...well...there's no good way to say this...
George W. Bush was the equivalent of political sickle-cell anemia to every Black person he championed, shook the hand of, or rubbed the head of “for good luck”.
Every one of them dis-credited, dis-carded and ultimately, just plain diss-ed by the audience they played to, and mainly through their own incompetence, avarice and exposure of soul-selling.
The list is brutal.
There was Education Secretary Rod Paige—Dubya's homey from Houston, who was touted as the shepherd of “The Texas Miracle” of No Child Left Behind 1.0. Bush brought Rod along to
Then there was Bush Domestic Policy Adviser Claude Allen—who was sailing along until he got his ass busted for boosting merchandise from a Maryland Target store and then stupidly doubling the scam by trying to return them for illegal refunds. Apparently, the ducats from Wingnut Welfare was just not enough to keep Claude flush with plasma screens and Big n' Rich CDs, so he just had to supplement his lifestyle somehow. Oops.
And my man Alphonso Jackson—Bush's HUD Secretary who stupidly decided he should shoot off his loud-ass mouth about the preferential treatment he was giving to entities who professed love for his “Massa Bush”, and how he would truck no consideration of those who did not slobber at the mention of the president. Which according to federal law was pretty much a violation of long-standing policy insofar as partisan politics should not influence who gets money or consideration from HUD? Well, once Fonzie's fuck-up became public, he too decided to spend some mo' time with his family. Funny how when the shit gets to flying everybody goes from the Harry Chapin dad in “Cat's In The Cradle” to Bob Saget in “Full House”, ain't it?
You almost have to pity poor Lurita Doan—former head of Bush's General Services Administration. She didn't get to pull the “time with my family” act, as this poor wretch screwed up in openly violating the Hatch Act and then maybe performing worse than Alberto Gonzales in mounting a defense for herself. And to show what an embarrassment she was, she actually got fired by Bush, something our “Little Lord Fucked-up-leroy” of a president almost never does. But because her inability to lie even a little bit convincingly jeopardized Karl Rove, homegirl had to go. Immediately. Fuck packing a box from the office. “We'll send you your shit. And by the way...can we have the brick of Post-Its™ you have in your pocket-thankyouverymuch.”
Leaving us with the big two...Colin and Condi.
Colin was perhaps Bush's most capable and in the end, least willing to shuck and jive of his dusky seedlings. Trouble is, the worst example of his playing along helped move this country down the path of throwing 4150 American lives down the toilet of dim-witted presidential hubris. Powell knew he was doing wrong, but “did his job” and then unlike all the others, lost sleep over his choice and apparently couldn't live with himself. But his fuck-up is so awful in what it enabled—a vicious, economy and prestige diminishing war that'll forever be remembered for its fevered selling that he took part in, that he wears a huge, tattooed “F.U.” on his head to this very day and will for many years beyond.
Condi's still here however...moved into an “I fucked up—and I'm outta here” Colin's spot after royally screwing up in her own appointed position. A clear, last-ditch effort by the Republicans to get that vaunted “transistorized Negro conserva-bot” up and running at last.
MASSIVE. GODDAMNED. FAIL
From her diplomatic embarrassments with Russia, to her gaffe-tastic dealings with Venezuela, then her inability to command respect (Her sitting back and simply eating Ariel Sharon's sexist bullshit where he demeaned her by commenting inappropriately about her legs, and her never checking him on that garbage spoke volumes about the kind of diplomatic toughness she'd show), to every silly-assed, mealy-mouthed musing she stuffed to bursting with Rove-fed talking points, she's been a disaster of “Showgirls” proportions. And even as she was blindfolded-ly pináta-ing every vase in the international relations china shop, there were still some in her party trying to push her as some sort of possible candidate or at the very least, a running mate up until mid 2007. Again, hoping to catch the undersea wave that people like Frank Luntz evidently noticed. But she of course was not up to the task, as all the rest were not. When people began to look at her “record”, it was apparent that her Zelig-like nature of invariably being nearest to the heat in almost every historical wildfire of Bush fuck-uppery in the last eight years, was not just a deal-breaker, but a deal wood-chipper / acid-bath / atom smasher.
What was J.J. Hunsecker's line from “Sweet Smell of Success”? “You're dead, son. Get yourself buried.”
That was Condi's chances he was talking to.
Her lacing up cement running shoes for a “run” was it for Black Republican chances. Swann, Blackwell and Steele's hilarious flame-outs were just the pre-coda fanfare. It was a fizzle. Fo' shizzle.
And then, irony would rear its Aunt Esther-beautiful head.
In the wake of the utter devastation of the hopes for Republicans to make cynical inroads into a key bloc of the Democrats' base via the running and hoped-for success of those candidates, we would see Senator Barack Obama begin his run for The presidency and effectively flip the GOP's script, re-energizing the Democratic party—while making...well, cynical inroads into key Republican voter blocs himself.
You have to wonder what that troika from the '06 mid-terms must say when they meet at “The No-Name Bar” they hang out in these days. (as they have effectively become political “No-Names” today) How a mere eighteen months later, for all their ballyhoo and countless millions invested in foisting them on the public...they're on the sidelines, while a Black Democrat does the very thing they were intended to—charm America while pulling in votes across the spectrum, and upsetting the electoral applecart...albeit sideways.
How? How? How?
Well...it goes back to the tricky part about American racism. It's so rooted in hate and de-humanization that when its practitioners really start messing with the works via Rube Goldberg-ian / Mission: Impossible-complex plots, and playing super-cynical head games with it, their inability to help themselves from insulting people's—most importantly Black people's intelligence is the self-inflicted ass-kick that wrecks the plan. Mehlman, and Rove and the rest of the Republicans' brain-trust haughtily figured they could just run a slate of vanilla-valued ice-milk (not even ice cream ) candidates and somehow think everyone would see them as the new triple-fudge-ripple—but with one-quarter of the soul, and none of the messy allegiance to progressive ideals.
New-Coke-Negroes. And of course, nobody wanted 'em. Bring back the “Old” Coke...but put it in a new can, and “Mmmmmm-mmmmmmmm!” Goes down smooth.
There may be a debt Barack Obama owes this collection of idiots, tools and charlatans. Much the way President Bush's head-shaking incompetence may have opened the door for America to consider someone so radically different from him as Chief Executive, so too may have “The Three Bourgies” (and Condi's) political bed-shits (as front folks for Bush and his “people”) have greased the skids for more dynamic and super-competent examples of Blacks in high-office. I do admit to laughing my ass off at the likes of MSNBC's Joe Watkins. his pitiful, wall-eyed buddy Ron Christie, and CNN's sad, thrashing Niger Innis wanly spin against history's tide and their own creeping obsolescence...like tar-trapped dinosaurs braying as the meteors and ice-showers rain down upon them. Steve'd be laughing too. Long. Loud. And hard. Even though he knew the joke better than just about everybody else and had the Goddamned punch line tattooed on the back of his hand. Obama's ascendancy into the void they so tenously held space in just makes the laughter that much heartier.
I mean...a year and a half ago, these clowns just knew...knew they were the cutting edge. And now?
Let “The Godfather of Soul's” first three sentences here complete the thought.