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December 08, 2011 11:36 AM African-American Liberals Know How to Love Their President

By Keith Humphreys

Jonathan Chait’s much-discussed essay in New York magazine indicted the left for being perennially, loudly and unrealistically disappointed in Democratic Presidents. In Chait’s view, much of the left ignores the constraints on Presidential power (e.g., Congress, of which Drew Westen et al seem to be in ignorance) and doesn’t have the stomach or attention span for the slow, daily grind of governance. He also charges the left with crippling their own leaders with faithlessness and then blaming them when they are thereby forced to compromise with the other side. Chait sees these patterns as almost entirely independent of Obama, being instead a style, outlook and set of norms among liberals that goes back for decades. In short,

Liberals are dissatisfied with Obama because liberals, on the whole, are incapable of feeling satisfied with a Democratic president. They can be happy with the idea of a Democratic president—indeed, dancing-in-the-streets delirious—but not with the real thing.

Related themes were sounded by Nicholas Kristof, who attacked the “hold your nose as you vote” chic fashionable among some leftists (emphasis mine):

Many Democrats and journalists alike, feeling grouchy, were dismissive of Al Gore and magnified his shortcomings. We forgot the context, prided ourselves on our disdainful superiority — and won eight years of George W. Bush.

All of this is true of a certain type of liberal in the U.S., but I wish Chait and Kristof had taken the time to exempt from criticism the most stalwart segment of liberal America: African-Americans. Perpetually indignant white liberals could learn a lot from them.

Opinions polls continue to show extremely high approval ratings for President Obama among Black Americans. But even the high proportion of Black people who tell pollsters they “approve” of the President doesn’t begin to capture the feelings that go beyond approval and extend to love and admiration (after all, if you think the President is, you guess, doing okay on balance, you say “approve” to a pollster). It’s not hard to see these intense emotions in many African-Americans if you know where to look.

I recently wrote a piece suggesting that the Obamas should campaign as a couple, which was picked up by some websites with sizable African-American readerships (e.g. Jack and Jill Politics, The Smithian). In that more Black-dominated part of the web, I saw more unreservedly positive comments about the President than I have read in the past year in all of what I suppose are my typically white Internet reading habits. Gone were the usual jibes that Obama is an “Eisenhower Republican” or “plutocratic sellout”. Indeed, many people referred to him (and his wife) as heroes and inspirational leaders, among a number of other cynicism-free superlatives.

It reminded me of an event I attended last year in the East Room of the White House. As a group of us who had worked on the President’s AIDS strategy awaited Obama’s arrival, an African-American woman asked me to give her my spot near the lectern so that she might shake the President’s hand. She had in her purse a glove which her sister had made her promise to put on immediately after any handshake with Obama. Her sister wanted no one and nothing to touch the hand the President had touched until she herself removed the glove and experienced her hero’s touch, even indirectly. I was so touched by her and her sister’s devotion that I moved myself and a few other people out of the way to give her a chance (she got her precious handshake, and left the White House joyfully gloved).

I can hear a few white liberal noses curling at this account of shameless President-love: how fulsome, how unsophisticated, how jejune. But I would say how human, how bravely committed and how encouraging to a President who needs more than truculent, nose-holding liberal voters behind him to accomplish great things.

Why Do African-Americans So Love Barack Obama?

Another story from the White House: Tom McLellan and I were in the White House Mess, taking a new, Asian-American member of the Administration to lunch. The man espied an African-American White House staffer whom he had known years before. They both jumped up in surprise and hugged each other in recognition. And then a second squeeze and loud laughter. As Steinbeck once wrote, I thought I saw the beginning of a tear in their eyes but maybe it was in my own. I knew what that second hug meant: We. Made. It. People of color made it. From slavery and Jim Crow and racial oppression to the West Wing. I will always be grateful to President Obama for making this possible, but as a white person I cannot fully understand experientially what those two fine men and countless other people of color receive in their hearts every time it hits them that the President of the United States is an African-American.

Understanding that reality, I cringe at the white, alleged liberals who call on Obama to acknowledge that his is a failed presidency. They want the first Black President in history to, effectively, announce that he is a bumbling affirmative action baby, apologize for being so uppity as to have ever assumed otherwise and resign in disgrace so that Hillary Clinton or some other qualified (i.e. white) person can lead the party. Would that such white “progressives” were required to focus group their proposal in a locked room with a random sample of 20 African-American women. Fortunately, the President has ignored their call to set back race relations a generation and crush the optimism he has generated among people of color nationally. These attacks on the President, like others, generally go nowhere with African-Americans; indeed they may even strengthen their commitment to him.

But all that said, my own question of why Blacks so love Obama elides the broader reality evidenced by their very high approval ratings of a white Democratic President, Bill Clinton. Blacks have a special place in the hearts for Barack Obama, but fundamentally, if you are a Democratic President, Black people in this country have your back.

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What Some White Liberals Could Learn From Black Liberals

Many white progressives have remained loyal to the President they elected. But imagine the situation if all white liberals were as consistently supportive of their Presidents as are Black liberals. President Obama would currently be assured of easy re-election and the Congress would know it, making his negotiating hand infinitely stronger. Democratic donors could re-direct money to Congressional races secure in the knowledge that Obama’s re-election was a lock. Instead, like all Democratic Presidents, Barack Obama knows he is leading an army in which some of the troops (as Chait notes) were calling him a traitor even before he got sworn in and an increasing number are looking to abandon the field. In that situation, a rational commander looks for an accommodation with the other side because he can’t win with a half-committed army versus a fully-committed one. A subset of white liberals are thus creating the conditions for their own disappointment, and for that of those white and black liberals who have kept the faith.

Why aren’t white liberals as consistently supportive of their Presidents as Black liberals? Despite massive, heroic progress in racial equality in the United States, white people still get their way more often or not. And it’s easy to get used to that. Black people, even highly accomplished Black people, are more aware that all change is resisted, good things don’t happen without years of sustained work, and that often you have to work twice as hard to get half as much. They don’t expect a yellow pony for a birthday present and thus they don’t feel that someone has failed them when it isn’t delivered giftwrapped to their door. That makes them the grown-ups of the American left, whom the hold-your-nose set would do well to emulate.

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

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Keith Humphreys is a professor of psychiatry and behavioral medicine at the Stanford University School of Medicine.
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Comments

  • fu on December 08, 2011 8:36 PM:

    Oh goody, now we're 'traitors' in addition to all the red-baiting garbage from the last time you pinched out a loaf of this nonsense. Plus, race-baiting! It's a goddamned crypto-fascist shit sandwich.

    I'm voting for Obama, like almost everyone else you're defaming. But if he loses, I'll at least take comfort that bootlicking scum like you will be disappointed.

  • TerryS on December 09, 2011 12:18 AM:

    "bootlicking scum" ??

    Wow, someone is having a little temper tantrum.

  • EnoughIsEnough on December 09, 2011 1:16 AM:

    Wow Fu he hit a nerve. Every word is the truth. But you are and others are too close minded and full of hatred to EVEN turn it over in your pea brains. Look at the graph. Can you read the graph? Yes it is true that AAs have supported Dem Presidents, sometimes holding our noses. But we have known that Republicans cater to and answer to the wealthiest among us. And since we had no civil rights or no real voting rights prior to 1964 few of us fell into that category of "wealthy". So yes, we voted for those who we believed had the growth of the middle class and the poor at heart and it sure wasn't the Republicans. Here's something else based on your comment you will never understand. I am 62 years old. I lived through segregation. I never thought I would live long enough to see an AA president in these United States. Even though I had family who fought and died for this country in every war since the Civil War. I had uncles who came back from WWII and couldn't take a piss at a gas station; or sit down at a lunch counter. Two cousins came back wounded and it didn't make a damn be of difference how they were treated. People call it Jim Crow. Personally, I hate that term. We AAs lived under apartheid. So the USA has evolved enough to elect an AA president and the racists have come out of the woodwork - both right and left. And get this. When you tell the truth as Keith has done IT IS NOT RACE-BAITING or what's the other term y'all like to use "PLAYING THE RACE CARD". Well I got news for you. We don't live in a post-race America. Maybe you never saw the racist signs or received the the racist emails about President Obama and Mrs. Obama. Maybe you've been living under a rock since 2007. But rest assured we haven't. And I hope 100% of AAs turn out to vote for President Obama. Of course the Republicans are doing everything in their power to suppress the vote, but we ARE FIGHTING BACK.

  • Sue B on December 09, 2011 1:19 AM:

    I'm white & you are right on! Its discouraging when "my people" (working class whites) don't have the good sense to recognize & vote in their own best interests.

  • MJ on December 09, 2011 1:43 AM:

    Thanks for writing this. I know you'll get lots of vituperative push-back on this, but as an African-American with a lot more to say on this topic than the hour allows, I want to let you know how much I appreciate the courage it took for you to have put these thoughts in writing.

    It's too late for me to elaborate now, but I'll come back & write a bit more later.

  • Cha on December 09, 2011 2:30 AM:

    I happen to be Irish and do love PObama the way those who are the smartest large voting block of AA's do. And, I love them for that, too. This is our Country and I appreciate that they realize what all he's done and tried to do for everyone. The haters gonna hate and the profiteering left are haters and they have plenty of suckers slurping that shite up.

    As for fu's ignorance willful or otherwise..I'll just say fu.

  • Cha on December 09, 2011 2:45 AM:

    And, I want to thank you, Keith Humphreys, for writing this article of what I've thinking about. I frequent those blogs you mentioned and more..also, there's a blog you might not be aware of that is a mixture of pragmatic peeps who are very positive about what this President has actually done and will continue to do for our country and its people and it's.. http://theobamadiary.com/

    She just got over 6 million hits so quite few know about it. :)

  • C. on December 09, 2011 3:47 AM:


    Thank you so much for writing this, it is absolutely spot on.�

    It is terribly short-sighted of these white liberals who forget that they will need this most reliable liberal black base and President Obama to elect any of their future dream 'progressive' candidates.

    Yes, at the moment they might be enjoying an unusual and dubious love-fest with their equally rabid anti-President Obama friends on the right - even collaborating with and fundraising for the opposition to spite President Obama.�

    The very same spin masters on the right who would have cast monuments in President Obama 's honor had he been one of theirs, but who now delight in helping the left tear down one of their best.

    These same white liberals who will rage, scream bloody murder and denigrate when President Obama delivers on a long elusive liberal dream, but falls short in their opinion because it wasn't delivered in their perfectly imagined version..

    These same white liberals hold President Obama in contempt for falling short of their ever moving goal post standards of perfection, but gush and fall all over themselves lauding Jon Huntsman for tweeting that he believes in evolution!

    The same white liberals who now insist with a straight face that Dick Cheney who while in office for 8 long years never did a single thing policy wise for the LGBT community in spite of having a gay daughter, is to the left of President Obama who has passed more pro LGBT legislation than any President in history.

    They grasp for cover behind every contrived issue and are perpetually outraged about every single inconsequential thing that gives them one more reason and validation for their unfounded anger and contempt towards President Obama.

    They are incapable of giving him any credit whatsoever and when proven wrong as they have often been, they only dig in and ramp up their attacks and insults instead.

    What has been most ironic is that in a bid to destroy and take down President Obama, they have only succeeded in mostly destroying whatever credibility, support and influence they once enjoyed and wielded.

    Most of us who once strongly identified with this crowd are stunned by what we have been witness to, but are now more determined than ever to ensure the re-election of this exceptional President �- in spite of them...

  • Cool on December 09, 2011 8:36 AM:

    I have had the same thoughts you have written about regarding "white" liberal/progressive anger or disappointment or whatever you want to call it to black support/love for BO. The dichotomy between the two most definitely can be summed up as blacks understanding that you can't get all the things you want, having to work extra hard to get what you want and even though you are disappointed, you are used to it so you continue to have faith because eventually, through persistence and hard work, it's going to happen. Think about the CRM. Blacks didn't get what they wanted right away and they didn't sit around and whine and complain but continued to have faith and worked extra hard to get what they wanted. Even though Kennedy didn't exactly support the CRM, he was still loved by the black community. They still put his picture up in their homes and continued to have faith and patience. They didn't go around calling him 'weak' or a 'failure' or 'compromising' or whatever BO is being called.

    And I'm glad that you highlighted the affection blacks have for Democratic Presidents and that it's not just a "black on black" love thing going on. It's a different mindset about life between blacks and whites. One group is used to disappointment and it doesn't affect our 'stick-to-it-ness'. We keep going on...hoping...because if we responded like the others to disappointment and give up hope, we have nothing else...

  • Anonymous on December 09, 2011 11:02 AM:

    As a 65 year old African-American woman, let me say that I agree with all you have said.

    One more thing, however, African-Americans in general are very astute observers of life and men. We have had to develop this skill in order to survive(literally).

    Therefore, understand that in President Obama we recognized instinctively that he was the one we never believed we would see. We would not have supported him if he had not passed our tough African-American "test". We would have sensed a lack of authenticity and readiness almost immediately,and he would not have gotten our support. We knew he would be held to a higher standard than other presidents, but even we did not know that standard would be raised somewhere beyond the sky! But,he has proven his excellence over and over again since being in office.

    We recognize,(unlike what some may think)that he is only a man. We don't see him as deity, and so we get behind him to hold him up. That's because we see how viciously he is torn down on a daily basis. We know how that feels, for most of us have experienced some of that in our own lives.

    This is not a black thing; this is about worthiness, not perfection,for no man is perfect. We are proud because he has proven himself worthy while being black and only a man. We would give the same support, as you have rightly said, to any man or woman who we deemed worthy.

    Mr. Humphries, you are about to be tarred, feathered, and boiled in oil for speaking the truth. I cannot bear to read some of the comments you will receive, for they will remind me too much of the AA experience.

    But don't let the charges of "race-card" and race-baiting
    get you down, or make you back down.

    I applaud you and appreciate your insight. It took a lot of courage to write this, so know that I and many others have got your back.

  • Anonymous on December 09, 2011 11:04 AM:

    Humphreys! Forgive the mis-spelling of your name.

  • itgurl_29 on December 09, 2011 11:41 AM:

    As a black woman and supporter of President Obama,I thank you for this article! I see the hatred this President receives from too many white liberals and it boils my blood. They have have accused him of being an affirmative action baby. They've accused the most feminist President in history of hating women. They have accused him of homophobia. They've called him weak. They've questioned his manhood. It is disgusting and has opened my eyes that too many white liberals are no different from when it comes to race than the most hateful and extremist elements on the right.

    He has made incredible progress. Progress that I've seen in my own life. My sister was able to finally undergo surgery to have uterine fibroids removed because of the Affordable Care Act. The same piece of legislation that to many white liberals call a disappointment. They wanted to "Kill the Bill" that has saved the lives and improved the heath of so many people.

    I thank the Lord for this President everyday. I know some white liberals mock that, but yes, I pray for his success and safety. Every single day. I see my father and brothers and uncles in him. I see a little of myself in him. And I'm proud that he has had a successful 3 years. Nothing angry white liberals say can change that.

  • nospin on December 09, 2011 1:11 PM:

    "These attacks on the President, like others, generally go nowhere with African-Americans; indeed they may even strengthen their commitment to him."


    Bingo - hand that man a prize. The more President Obama is unfairly vilified, the more determined we are to stand with him and cover his back. Period.

    Why? Because this isn't new. We understand what this man has to bear and so we hold him up when others seek to tear him down.

    President Obama is a good man that has accomplished great things in perilous times. There is still more work to do and not enough time to do it in. We don't have time to waste. So regardless of all the things thrown at our President from all sides, we will stand with him, lift him up and help him to continue to Press On one step at a time.

  • nospin on December 09, 2011 1:15 PM:

    One thing you didn't really touch on.. . .How does this behavior against President Obama impact long term support from the black community? What happens in 2016 AFTER President Obama leaves office?

    Folks are going to have to work extra hard to mend fences. Lots of folks will be out of luck. I sure as heck know that I won't forget.

  • theresa on December 09, 2011 1:34 PM:

    I was shocked in 2009 reading so called liberal blogs how racists these liberals were. It opened my eyes that there are racist white liberals.

    These white liberals that have disrepected President Obama and his family will be coming to the black community for our support in 2016 to vote for their candidates. The blowback will be astounding, we will not be used.

  • June on December 09, 2011 2:17 PM:

    I had some trepidation in clicking the link when I spotted the headline for this piece, but am so glad I did. Thank you, Humphreys, for putting into words the reasons why I feel compelled to push back against the constant stream of misinformation and just sheer nonsense out here that astonishingly often emanates from those who claim to be liberals/progressives.

    The time of the HCR debates was a real eye-opener for me. It became so clear to me that the two HCR sacred cows of those who identify themselves as liberals - a public option and single-payer - seemed overwhelmingly to be just excuses to rage against this president. Why? Because even though they professed to care about these things, they didn't give a shit when "the father of the public option" - Jacob Hacker - wrote a piece in a mainstream magazine explaining that his idea of a public option was that it be used as a means to an end, not the end itself. Near the end of the tussle over passing HCR, Hacker publicly included in his article ways that the existing bill could still be brought into line with his original vision of including a public option. The President's Proposal included every one of Hacker's suggestions, and those suggestions made it fairly intact into the final bill. Hacker also rightfully pointed the finger at Joe Lieberman for putting the kabosh on the public option, and he called Obama the most progressive president of his lifetime. Yet, out here on the blogs and in the forums, not a single poster who would rather have "killed the bill" than not see it include a public option, had even made it their business to keep up with this kind of information. Next, on the subject of single-payer - the final bill includes an under-the-radar way for single-payer to be instituted state-by-state, but I have never seen any "It's simple - single-payer!"-type posts show any awareness of, let alone thanks for, that provision. Finally, there were very little kudos from so-called liberals/progressives for the amazingly good things that were and are in the bill - things that are now tangibly saving lives, just as predicted. During the debates, they just didn't seem to give a shit that people's lives would actually be saved because of this legislation; "disappointed," and "Obama is a corporatist" just became the meme of the day.

    And you know, it still hurts when I think of how prominent voices in the LGBT community constantly called Obama a coward, when from week one of his presidency, he was meeting for over a year with military heads to lay the groundwork for the repeal of DADT. The military is a very rigid structure with rules and regulations for even how many sheets of toilet paper you can use to wipe your rump (in basic training in any case - I'm former USAF). Obama recognized the best way to handle the repeal of DADT was to put in a solid foundation within the military first. And while he was quietly doing this, several public faces (almost of them, white) of the LGBT were tearing him to shreds. They felt free to call him a coward, but I haven't seen many who have had the courage to offer him an apology. Rachel Maddow did do a mea culpa on her show, but that was primarily for having incorrectly publicly assumed that the lame-duck 111th Congress wouldn't pass the legislation. Many times on forums, I saw the civil rights movement referenced in relation to the repeal of DADT, and often I observed how the posts of those who lived through and were affected by that movement, who dared to suggest that what was missing now from the invocation of the civil rights era was an understanding that significant change takes patience, perserverance, sacrifice, endurance - I saw those posts met with the most vile vitriol you can imagine.

    (Didn't mean to go on for this long! But --)

    Humphreys makes a very good point about how African-Americans in general (especially baby-boomer AAs - the newer generations may have different perspectives) can recogn

  • Plantsmantx on December 09, 2011 2:18 PM:

    They want the first Black President in history to, effectively, announce that he is a bumbling affirmative action baby, apologize for being so uppity as to have ever assumed otherwise and resign in disgrace so that Hillary Clinton or some other qualified (i.e. white) person can lead the party.

    Oh, come on...LOL. That's bull. It's not reality. It's just you playing the game of ascribing right-wing motives to liberals who are dissatisfied with Obama, and even trying to suggest that they are right-wingers ("alleged liberals").

    How can you approvingly quote Chait and Kristoff saying that liberals tend to be dissatisfied with Democratic Presidents, then attribute their dissatisfaction with Obama to racism? It's no different than white rightists recognizing that black voters have consistently given their votes to Democrats in overwhelmingly high numbers, but still insisting that they voted for Obama in similar numbers "just because he's black".

  • Plantsmantx on December 09, 2011 2:24 PM:

    nospin said:

    One thing you didn't really touch on.. . .How does this behavior against President Obama impact long term support from the black community? What happens in 2016 AFTER President Obama leaves office?

    What do you expect they will do after 2016? Vote Republican?

  • June on December 09, 2011 2:55 PM:

    Okay, At Plantsmantx, it's a valid question - no, in general, we will not be looking to vote Republican. But this has been an educational time - so-called liberal/progressive candidates who have spent their time railing against this president at every opportunity (Dennis Kucinich in OH, and Jonathan Tasini in NY come to mind) will not just be able to march in and take the black vote for granted; we will be looking at candidates who are genuinely interested in progress. And who knows? Some of us may even be running ourselves.

  • Plantsmantx on December 09, 2011 3:12 PM:

    Kucinich? You may well be making a moot point. Isn't he more than likely going to be gerrymandered out of his district? And if he runs out of a Congressional district in Washington State, will they be enough black voters there to keep him from winning?

    I'd never heard of Jonathan Tasini, but after a bit of Googling, I see that he's planning to run against Rangel. How much of a chance would he have even if he wasn't critical of Obama?

    In any case, I interpret nospin's comment as a threat that black voters will desert the Democrats as a party after 2016. I don't see that happening.

  • Brian T. Raven on December 09, 2011 4:27 PM:

    Wow! Thanks so much Mr. Humphreys. A wonderful and useful article.

    All Democrats should read, and then re-read (in late October), the following articles (in addition to this one):

    1.) Jonathan Chait's article - because it's true as well, though generally more true for whites. http://nymag.com/news/politics/liberals-jonathan-chait-2011-11/

    2.) Shankar Vedantam's article about bias. Because we've all got it, so we all need to learn about it, and we need to use that knowledge to help us make rational decisions. There are no high horses around here - EVERY one of us is constrained by bias. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/articles/A27067-2005Jan21.html

    I voted for Obama because I believed him when he said he wanted to govern all Americans. I still do. He's the most intelligent, measured, wise, practical, effective, and inspiring candidate we've seen in our lifetimes, and bias is so powerful it can blind us to that.

  • Candi151 on December 09, 2011 4:30 PM:

    Like everyone here commenting, I to, am very proud of our First AA President. He came into a situation that was worse than anyone ever thought and handled it very well. Like one of the commentators said above, he's not perfect, no one is, but he is a President of the people & doing what is right for the people, instead of Corporations. I am not AA, but a white Hispanic female and I'm proud to call him my President. I'm sure that most Hispanics, when the time comes, will also have his back.

  • June on December 09, 2011 4:32 PM:

    @Plantsmantx, last I read, Kooch may be planning to primary Marcy Kaptur in Ohio. Tasini already tried running against Rangel and bit the dust - Rangel's district can't afford the luxury of Tasini's "principles," one of which was to advocate vociferously for the demise of the healthcare reform bill - after which he got the bright idea to run in a district with one of the highest rates of diabetes in the state.

    I understood your interpretation of the question, but it seems my response was not in line with what you've already decided the answer must be.

  • Plantsmantx on December 09, 2011 4:44 PM:

    I interpreted nospin's statement.

  • June on December 09, 2011 4:53 PM:

    Yes, I should have used the words "post" or "statement" instead of "question."

  • nospin on December 09, 2011 5:52 PM:

    @plantsmantx

    "What do you expect they will do after 2016? Vote Republican?"

    I expect AAs will vote for people who actually represent our interest vs. paying lip service. There are options and a lot of these folks are not it. Quite a few can go straight to heck for all I care.

  • Plantsmantx on December 09, 2011 8:33 PM:

    You can do that in 2012.

  • cat48 on December 09, 2011 10:17 PM:

    Thank you, Keith Humphreys, for writing about us. We don't get a lot of press other than about how we still support the president (for some reason). I am quite proud of him, and he's done well as a "first." I'm sure most aren't aware how difficult being "first anything" can actually be for a person and their family. They've handled it all really well.

    As you write, I've always had every Dem president's back. Yes, even President Carter, people. He really wasn't a bad person. I could see the good in him. Dems would have much stronger presidents who could get more done, if we could all hang together as one.

    Thanks again.

  • AAMOM on December 10, 2011 7:44 AM:

    I come to Monthly everyday to read Steve. Mr. Humphreys I just added you to "my favorites" cuz I am a black woman and your words expressed exactly what I feel. I post comments daily on a daily daily blog I will not name but it has the word "daily" in it. I gave myself the role of fighting AGAINST other Democrats over whether my President was weak, stupid, dumb, conciliatory, weak, etc. I was even banned for a couple weeks cuz I just could not take it anymore and may have (smile) become nasty. But I got my posting rights back and so now I simply play by the rules and try to present my best argument. But understand, I argue because of my mad love for Barack Obama. In June 2007 I did even know who this guy was. I read his book, Dreams, then started to follow the primaries. I am 60. I went thru Vietnam and Reagan and Clinton and Bush. Could this guy actually win? I cannot believe he won. And he won cuz a whole lot of WHITE people felt the same as me. So thank you for letting me comment and I will be back.

  • luluforever on December 10, 2011 8:29 AM:

    One month after President Obama was elected, I was listening to David Sirota on the morning radio show he has in Denver. Driving to work, paying attention to traffic, I wasn't sure when I heard him say, "President Rahm." But when he called President Obama "President Rahm" a second time, I changed the channel forever. Seriously, if Hilary Clinton had been elected, and had done exactly the same thing President Obama did after the election, I doubt that David Sirota would have been referring to her by her chief-of-staff's last name. It made me feel ill. And it wasn't just Sirota, but so many others. I am a white woman, and these "liberals" I had been reading and listening to throughout the horror of the Bush administration had suddenly turned into bigots right before my eyes.

  • Plantsmantx on December 10, 2011 8:55 AM:

    They haven't turned into bigots. They haven't changed at all, and that's the problem Obama devotes have with them. Unlike Obama devotees, the political convictions they've always held didn't change because Obama became President.

  • JD on December 10, 2011 10:33 AM:

    I am a white man who staunchly supports our president and I agree with just about everything that's been said so far.

    I don't agree with absolutely everything the president has done or said. This does not indicate that PBO is a sell-out; it simply indicates relatively minor disagreements that one might expect whenever one member of the human race regards another member of the human race.

    His many accomplishments, his obvious competence, his sure judgements and his positive agenda far far outweigh any disagreements I might have with President Obama. Even when and if I might disagree with him, his faithful shepherding of a rational and humane vision of America have led me to trust this president.

    I, too, am sick of the whining left wing and their "poutrage". It's ridiculous and shows no accounting for institutional constraints. These folks need both a civics lesson and a massive dose of humble pie. I thank God (unashamedly) that it is President Obama and not President Kucinich in the White House, for an inflexible and dogmatic program would surely have failed.

    I also agree that A-A voters are very often taken for granted by white liberals and the Democratic party. I do urge all Democrats of all races to focus on the choice between the Democratic and the Republican points of view during every and any election.

    Punishing future Democratic nominees would only help one group of people, the Republicans, who have shown themselves to be one of the most dishonest, arrogant, selfish and altogether frightening parties in our history.

    I know that many white Democrats have not had the president's back. As a Virginian, I have made my displeasure about this crystal clear to elected representatives. But let's not cut off our nose to spite our face. Such self-destructive behavior is characteristic of just those "emoprogs" we deplore, not of those who through steadfast allegiance to President Obama have enabled his great success.

  • June on December 10, 2011 1:35 PM:

    It's wonderful to see that not only African-Americans have posted comments in this thread in support of Pres. Obama. Reading through your posts has been encouraging.

  • Pamela on December 10, 2011 7:47 PM:

    It's not a blind, mindless loyalty. It's all about policy. African Americans support the political party with the best policies for their overall well-being.

  • Pamela on December 10, 2011 7:50 PM:

    Plus, African Americans don't suffer from amnesia. The Democratic Party and Dem politicians aren't perfect or squeaky clean, by any means, but they sure as heck aren't today's GOP.

  • exlibra on December 10, 2011 7:52 PM:

    I'm white and, although American only by "adoption" -- I was naturalized in 1984 -- I've been paying some attention to US politics since then, in order to vote sensibly. '08 was the first time I voted with enthusiasm, rather than for a lesser evil. And I still break out in smiles when I see our First Family. When was the last time US had a President (and a First Lady) who had as much smarts and *class* as this one?

    I have no time or respect for the kvetching classes, who spend all their time picking lint from their belly buttons and complaining about Obama. You want him to do more, get off your butt and find him better partners to work with. Like, 60 *reliable* Senators (not DINO slimeballs).

    So, you're welcome to call me an Obamabot. When the campaign called last week, I promised to do what I did the last time -- cook snacks for those who sit at the phones and talk to people. I can't; my spoken English is "funny", but I'd not stay on the sidelines for anything.

  • John on December 11, 2011 11:07 AM:

    I'm white, upper class economically, advanced degree, worked in both the Civil Rights and anti-war movements and a progressive. I will NOT vote for Obama under any circumstances. I don't think he has the political instincts to deal with the Fascist Right in this country. Too many times he has played Charlie Brown to Boehner's Lucy and missed the football every time. Too many times has has given in on major issues like taxes and Wall Street corruption. I will not vote for the lesser of two evils (Obama) nor will I vote for the eviller of two lessers - Republicans. If Obama loses it's because he did too much in the view of the Reactionary Right and exactly nothing to change this country's tilt away from Progressive government.

  • bobbyp on December 11, 2011 11:07 AM:

    heh....I wonder what this thread would have looked like in 1932 as the AA community began the transition to becoming the most solid of Democratic Party voting blocks, supplanting the southern segregationists.

    As for 'racist liberals', I am reminded of those who dare to question Isaeli policy being immediately tarred as anti-semites by the VSP's in the so-called insider liberal community in our nation's capital and amongst our liberal elite pundits such as Chiat and Joe Klein.

    You going to play that card next, Mr. Humphrey?

  • bobbyp on December 11, 2011 11:13 AM:

    Rest assured Mr. Humphry, if President Hillary Clinton had made the same moves as Obama, I would be among those traitors in the liberal camp you would so roundly criticize. Of course, then you would simply call us a bunch of misogynists....oh wait, they already happened during the '08 primaries.

  • Foster Boondoggle on December 11, 2011 7:53 PM:

    Hmm... The GOP took over the House of Reps. in 2010 because not enough of the Democrats' base showed up at the polls. Those "stalwarts" who always have the Democrats' back couldn't be bothered in an off year to show up and provide the party with needed support, so now Obama has to deal with John Boehner and Eric Cantor and their cast of Tea Party loons.

    It's one thing to be delighted that the US has moved far enough along the road to enlightenment to elect a black president. It's another to engage in the hard slog of politics, which, among other things, means showing up at the polls. Not everyone who "has the president's back" is willing to actually invest the effort to show it when it matters, and that includes African Americans.

    So lets save the self-congratulation about how blacks are the heart of the party for after the next election, when I trust we can count on a good democratic turnout.

  • Sgt. Gym Bunny on December 12, 2011 12:37 PM:

    "Black people, even highly accomplished Black people, are more aware that all change is resisted, good things dont happen without years of sustained work, and that often you have to work twice as hard to get half as much. They dont expect a yellow pony for a birthday present and thus they dont feel that someone has failed them when it isnt delivered giftwrapped to their door."

    Like music to my ears...

    Before the election, my dad and a lot of other black men from the old-school were quite skeptical of the Obama presidency. Not so much out of personal hatred for Obama, but because they were expecting Obama to fail by not fault of Obama's own, per se. With the economy in the toilet, they knew that Obama would get a bad rap if he didn't transform shit into gold within 90 days of taking office... If not that, some of these old heads were doing the countdown to Obama's impeachment if he even wiped his butt the wrong way while in the presidential toilet. While it is pretty sad that they had such low expectations of the Obama Presidency, I think it did have the unintended effect of Obama's exceeding their expectations. I haven't talked to my Dad yet about the likelihood of an Obama II presidency, but I bet he's probably having a good laugh at the GOP traveling circus that's trying to put him out of the office.

    Ironically, I know he had a hearty laugh at the train wreck of Herman Cain's campaign!!! I bet he never thought he'd live to see the day when he could laugh at (not with) a black candidate running for a major party's presidential nomination. That's a real treat: knowing that black people still have standards...

  • June on December 13, 2011 11:01 PM:

    @John -- not for nothing, but the fact that you're "white, upper class economically, advanced degree, etc., etc." means you have the luxury of having no skin in the game. It astounds me that many who claim to be well-educated remain willfully ignorant of the progressive policies of Pres. Obama and also never offer up a good argument as to why the prospects of allowing the Republicans to default on our debt, to throw millions out of work, and to raise everyone's taxes would have been the better, more progressive choice. But I guess it is much harder to recognize the short-and-long-term positive impact of Obama's policies when your only real question is, am I going to make a lot of money this year (with a Democratic president in place) or am I going to make a lot more money this year (with a Republican president in place, i.e., lower taxes.) I really wish you could hear yourself. You come across as no friend of progress. You're Exhibit A of what Humphrey's is talking about.

  • josh on December 14, 2011 6:02 PM:

    @June (and others)
    Please read what John actually wrote and ask why he wrote it. He isn't talking about his own taxes. (And the Republicans would not raise everyone's taxes, that would be a progressive policy. Maybe this was just a typo of some kind?) He's angry about Obama's continued failure to actually negotiate from a position of strength or to achieve real gains in tax policy or pursuit of corporate corruption. Given the 'Fascist' tag, I'm guessing he's also angry at the president's defense of illiberal, unconsitutional abuse of executive power. Those are issues where we all have 'skin in the game' and they are genuine liberal concerns.
    You may argue that Obama isn't given enough credit for the good things he has done, or that he's doing the best he can given the circumstances. But that is a disagreement about strategy or about where the reality of political posturing and negotiation lies. Please, please understand that liberal critics of the president are coming from a place of legitimate concern for progressive issues. You may think they are wrong in their assessment of what is possible or of how the politics of criticism will play out, but they aren't racists or some sort of traitor to the liberal cause.
    Like most liberals, (and even some conservatives) I was proud of my country, that it had come to a point where the election of a black man was a reality. I want Obama to be a successful president and I understand the desire that he be a symbol of hope and progress to AAs and all under-represented groups. I am proud when he speaks for a better future and when he stands up for the things I think he should. But I fear it's not enough. I'm disappointed when he protects illegal wire-tapping and cracks down on government whistle-blowers, when he empowers wall-street insiders and echoes Republican talking points. I'm afraid whatever gains he makes will be eroded by the next Repub president or congress and that he's given up too much too early to claim what victories he can. Basically, I'm tired of watching the conservatives lurch to the right and the Democrats running to catch up and play Republican-lite.
    None of that means I won't vote for him or work for his re-election. But I understand the frustrations of those who say they won't and it isn't about race, they had the same frustrations with Clinton and Carter. Most of the critics are hoping the criticism will prompt Obama to act more like the leader we want him to be. Partly that's because those actions are good in themselves, but also because they will give people a reason to vote for him. We're lucky that the Republican field is so weak this year, but Obama is still in danger and it's not because liberals are leaving him in droves, it's because 'independents' and undecideds can't be relied upon and because voter turnout among his supporters may be low. I think the column gets it wrong on the numbers and the motivations, needlessly antagonizing people who should be allies.

  • June on December 15, 2011 12:17 AM:

    @Josh -

    Again, I say that folks like "John" and those who write apologias for them do not have to contend with the real-world consequences of following through on declarative statements like "I will NOT vote for Obama under any circumstances." The rest of us have to contend with the short-sightedness of posters like John who in their "liberal" fog sit out the vote and deliberately deliver the travesty of a Speaker Boehner to this nation -- then the "Johns" have the nerve to complain that the president is not doing enough to push back against the insanity they themselves aided.

    If the Tea Party-controlled House had really had its way, it would have shut down the government every other week by now, thrown millions off unemployment, thrown millions out of work and wreaked whatever other havoc they could have on the country. Obama staved this off time and again, and got the best of them in return, but that's not good enough for "liberals."

    Sidebar: What Obama got in return for a two-year extension of the Bush tax cut:
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/issues/taxes/tax-cuts

    And again, not for nothing, what's happened to critical thinking in this country? I'm sick and tired of a the same old "liberal" talking points that do not take into account the legislative process, or real-world current events.

    For example, the headline in business news today read that Goldman Sachs had their worst year since 2008, and that they've had to let go of a historic amount of partners. Pull up a financial chart of their stock and it's been headed down during most of Obama's term. Could that have something to do with the SEC under Pres. Obama hauling them in for hearings on how they fleeced their customers? Just maybe? What about the president's insistence on stress tests for the banks, and his structuring of the bank bailouts that were signed into law by Bush? In fact, the Bush bailouts were so completely overhauled under Obama, that the banks paid back the taxpayers far ahead of schedule just to be able to get out from under all the restrictions. Yet certain "liberals" pooh-pooh that sort of thing in favor of continually sniping from the sidelines. In fact, in my book the only thing that distinguishes "liberal" hate-ons of Obama from teabagger hate-ons of Obama is that teabaggers get the facts completely wrong, while "liberals" seem to prefer to just willfully ignore the facts (see my first post in this thread).

    And it's stunning to me that on this day when Pres. Obama honored his promise to end the Iraq conflict and to bring all our troops home, you instead choose to give an impassioned plea for "John" who in his wonderful upper-class world has pledged to never vote for Obama again based on, from what I can see, his view that Obama has not turned the United States into a giant set for a remake of "Dr. Zhivago."

    I have no use for "liberals" who are so far left that they are almost indistinguishable from far right. The result is that they aid Republicans in gaining positions of power, while self-righteously pointing the finger at the rest of us for not being "liberal" enough. In other words, in the real world, that kind of stance is essentially useless to progressing Democratic causes. How are we supposed to move forward when such "liberals" have dedicated themselves to cutting the knees out from under us?

  • Dana on December 18, 2011 11:00 PM:

    You know what? If Obama had stopped torture, I'd give him every single bit of the rest of it.

    As an Asian-American raised mostly white, I don't pretend to know what it's like to be African-American. But I wept with joy when Obama was elected, even though I'd held my nose to vote for him - because of what his election meant for, and about, America. I thought I held no illusions, but I was wrong.

    Torture is totally within the President's authority (not to mention totally illegal and totally immoral). With a stroke of a pen and strong words, he could've stopped the United States from torturing our prisoners. He chose not to and has continued to choose torture every day his presidency continues. Whatever else he has done or tried, that evil overarches it all.

  • Audrey on December 19, 2011 5:35 AM:

    Oh please Dana, spare us the faux outrage. Torture - are you kidding me? Seriously. How incredibly phony and dishonest. Sorry, but nobody is buying what you're selling.

  • Dana on December 20, 2011 4:49 PM:

    @Audrey, I don't even know what you're getting at. Is torture acceptable to you, or are you unaware that the victims of torture in domestic prisons are disproportionately African-American? In either event, if you can't even understand why someone would be outraged by torture, then only the Tea Party is buying what *you're* selling.

  • June on January 16, 2012 2:21 PM:

    @Dana, I've just come across this thread again and am stunned to see your completely inaccurate charge against Obama. Where do you get your news? How in the world are you not aware of this executive order, signed just two days after Obama's inauguration, meaning it has been in place since JANUARY 22, 2009:

    Executive Order 13491 -- Ensuring Lawful Interrogations
    http://www.whitehouse.gov/the_press_office/EnsuringLawfulInterrogations/

    If you really care that deeply about the issue, this information is not at all difficult to find.