It was an unbelievable sight. The Democratic President of the United States wandering into the White House Press Room followed closely by the former Democratic President of the United States. Barack Obama and Bill Clinton looked awkward as they situated themselves on the riser behind the podium.
The White House Press Corps knew that the two hottest tickets in the Democratic Party had a meeting, but they never expected what unfolded next. Reporters were hastily rounded up by press officers and told to go to the Briefing Room.
President Obama wanted everybody to know that President Clinton supported the deal—some would call the “unholy” deal—he made with Republican congressional leaders to extend tax cuts for the rich in exchange for extending unemployment benefits for the jobless.
It seemed of utmost importance that President Obama spread the word that the popular Bill Clinton agreed that Obama had negotiated the best deal he could get. Mr. Clinton said it might even work to improve the economy over the long term. But tax cuts for the rich? It’s alien to everything the Democratic Party has stood for historically.
But then came the biggest shock of all. President Obama left President Clinton in charge of the briefing to field reporters’ questions, because he said he had to go to a Christmas party. What??? He left the Grand Master of Communication to explain his bewildering cave to the Republican leadership; something Mr. Obama couldn’t make the public understand.
After that spectacle I was reminded of the great Louis Armstrong. Throughout the years Satchmo frequently said, every black man had to have a white boss to put his hand on his shoulder and who would say, “This is my n—–.” The words can be found in a biography published in 1983 called Louis Armstrong: An American Genius, by James Lincoln Collier.
Of course, Armstrong was born in the segregated South, lived under Jim Crow laws, and fought to get his music off the “chittlin’ circuit” into the jazz mainstream. He thought the only way he could do that was to have a powerful white man on his side.
Armstrong said, “If a Negro had the proper white man to reach the law and say, ‘What the hell you mean, locking up my n—–?’ Then quite naturally the law would walk him free.”
That was Louis Armstrong’s reality. But his words from long ago pricked my consciousness when I saw the Obama-Clinton dog and pony show at the White House.
Now, I’m not calling President Obama the n-word, nor am I calling President Clinton his white boss. I do not demean the real accomplishments the President has made over the past two years. I’m just saying…I’m just saying that by trotting out Mr. Clinton, President Obama did nothing to help the growing view our leader is weak. Republicans who want nothing more than to see his presidency fail, are dragging him around like “Bo” with a ragdoll. The President doesn’t appear large and in charge and he doesn’t seem to be able to get down with the people.
Barack Obama has only 2 years left. His New Year’s resolution should be to find his spine.