Yesterday op-ed by Bob Herbert of the New York Times really got me nuts. It was the straw that broke the camel’s back. I don’t care which party “gets it” or not. That is not even a relevant question.
That we have a president named Barack Hussein Obama is in fact a delivery of his campaign promise of change. The fact that he is decried as not that much different from other presidents is another delivery of his campaign promise of being President of all citizens, not just blue states.
You see, you may not have noticed, but the President of the United States is African-American. Now, I am a middle-aged, white, Jewish lesbian (MWJL). And I have no idea what it is to be anything or anyone other than who I am. But from my perspective (for what it is worth):
The President may be post-racial, but the country is not. (We are making progress and, as we do, sometimes there is backlash that makes us think we are losing ground.) The fact of his presidency is a challenge to much of the nation. The fact that he is continuing some of the Bush policies in matters of war means that his opponents (the Grand Old White Man Party) need to frame his domestic policies as so radical as to threaten our very existence as a nation. Thus, the charged rhetoric.
Because it is, at least in part, about race. (Please no eye rolls — I am a MWJL, remember?)
Lest we forget that John McCain and Sarah Palin got a lot of votes and stirred up fears of the end of the reign of the Old White Man.
Remember when he let a little of his anger show when Professor Gates was arrested? You would think that he created an international incident. All he did was call the actions of white cops stupid. Imagine George Bush doing that. Not even a blip on the radar.
Listen to the racist language of the Tea Party. These people are scared that they will be treated the way they have treated minorities. They know that karma can be a painful boomerang. So, now that the Establishment is run by an African-American, they are fighting the Establishment tooth and nail.
I had an epiphany the other day about DADT. The President is Commander in Chief of a military run by conservative white men. When he leads, they need to follow. So, he needs to show he will listen, too. So, maybe he needs to protect DADT for now as it winds it way through the courts and the Congress.
The President is the embodiment of the American dream, with the picture-perfect American family. But he is not a reflection of America yet, but an aspiration of what America can be. We all have some work to do.