By Saswat Pattanayak Despite his constant denial of race dynamics necessary to dissect American political roadmap, Barack Obama is going to be the first American President to be judged, also by his color. During his first year, several cartoons, news articles, political mentions – both innocent and deliberate – have brought up the issue of race, associating with him. Senator Majority leader Democrat Harry Reid’s reference to Obama as a “light-skinned” black man “with no Negro dialect unless he wanted to have one” is the latest in the series, rejuvenating the race debate towards the end of Obama’s first year at White House.
What has remained a constant, however, is the manner in which Obama has classically ignored the racists. For him, they really do not exist. For his one-God-one-freedomland-America, people simply cannot be racists, let alone him being a potential victim. When he did candidly refer to a despicable law and order situation in the country and called the Cambridge cops “stupid” for having arrested African-American scholar Henry Louis Gates, he immediately had to apologize through a beer party hosted in honor of the white police officer. Despite this, Fox News’ Glenn Beck threw racial slurs at the president. Rupert Murdoch came out to support Beck. Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh threw racial slurs at Obama’s Supreme Court nominee Sonia Sotomayor. New York Post came up with a cartoon depicting the author of the stimulus bill as a rabid chimpanzee, largely perceived by Americans as an ugly portrayal of Obama. Congressman Joe Wilson shouted “You lie” to the President on his face inside the Congress, deeply reminiscent of “you lie, boy” usually used to shout down slaves. Yet, the President nonchalantly kept thundering silence over all the racial uproars.The president preferred to stand by the media image of “post-racial America” he projected to have wooed, and replaced the reality of race relations with it. In Obama’s first year at office, his worldview dictated that it was not the United States which had the systemic problems of socio-economic patterns, it was the world outside. And to address the world outside, he stormed into Afghanistan in an unforeseen ferocity, ordered bombings at Pakistan, allowed for escalations in the Middle-East. America’s ecological concerns continued remaining as indecisive as its official stand on Gitmo detainees. In Africa, Obama continued to blame black people for their own plights, clearly absolving neocolonialism’s roles. Most of Latin America remained Obama’s NAFTA scapegoat.
On the domestic front, Obama offered 12 trillion dollars to the Wall Street and promised another 12 trillion for bailouts of the very companies that caused the gravest American economic crisis. He addressed the middle class, made the poor invisible, mocked at the Special Olympics, hired tax-evading disgraced bailout mastermind Timothy Geithner as treasury secretary, promoted several Goldman Sachs lobbyists to oversee the Treasury, and hired Citigroup’s failed billionaire Robert Rubin and a pronounced sexist Larry Summers as his economic advisors. Several of his nominees and appointees including Bill Richardson, Tom Daschle, and Nancy Killefer withdrew from power after their tax evasions were exposed. Under the President’s watchful eyes, America’s official unemployment rate reached double digits while the rich class became richer than ever before.
During Obama’s first year, the anti-war movement has almost disappeared into oblivion. Democratic Party that most profited from peacenik fundraising events has already closed down protests. Right-wingers could not be happier under any other administration. Anti-war sentiments and protests against Afghanistan invasion are scarce, with successful public relations campaign launched by “Brand of the Year”. While keeping his friends at Human Rights Campaign in gay spirits, Obama has continued flip-flopping on same-sex marriage rights. States are reversing legal rights and Mr President is vocally anti-marriage. His doublespeak on gay rights have confused all, but the liberal media. Liberal press are certain if there ever was a champion of equality rights, it is Mr Obama. Media sycophancy has reached a new height, with Obama taking stock. All his failures are declared as “inherited legacies”. All his abuses are declared as goof-ups. All his leadership struggles are covered in the name of hostile colleagues. So, if there is no sight for a universal healthcare, media depict the “struggle” of the president to convince others of the good. The fact that Obama never had a plan for it, the fact that he really wanted a small “public option” affecting 5% of Americans that would remain to “compete” with private insurance giants, is totally lost on the informed press. Just as Obama was not bothered by a racist society that does not spare even an elected head, he was not moved by the onslaughts of capitalism. His single greatest achievement during the first year at White House has been his Audacity of Hope: a hope that everything will emerge brighter from the corridors of American power. A power that he fervently desires, and with “all the president’s men” around him, certainly deserves.