Cross-posted from W.E.E. See You with Zizi’s permission- THANK YOU!
President Obama and America’s Erectile Dysfunction
Posted by Zizi2 on May 08th, 2011
Who knew that to be considered a “full blooded American” all President Obama had to do was pump a hefty dose of Viagra into America’s collective manhood, and unleash our inner Rambos? Truly sad and fascinating all at once! In a split second PBO went from being the target of Trump’s “Negro, show your papers” to Bill Maher’s “Black Ninja gangsta” and now to Glenn Greenwald’s accusation that PBO is a perpetrator of extra-judicial killings. Jon Stewart gave it visual punch with his map of America with a 45 degree erect Florida beefed up with weighty gonads.
As a cultural critic, tracking the racial narrative geography of the birth certificate brouhaha, and soaking up the language that poured out of the public domain on this past week’s news of Osama bin Laden’s demise, has been a veritable journey through America’s existential fears—the perceived loss of virility. Hollywoood has nothing on the breathless media circus that gushed over the details of the operation carried out by Navy SEALS Team 6. In short, President Obama seemed to have suddenly “redeemed himself” in the eyes of many skeptics overnight. Or has he? What changed about this man? What is it with Bill Maher and his obsession with the President Obama’s manhood?
To those labeled “Obamabots” (and I am unequivocally one), Bill Maher’s and Maureen Dowd’s sudden realization that President Obama is one “Black Ninja gangsta” or “cool hand Luke” is downright juvenile. Not that we cannot all enjoy this moment of national catharsis and tempered joy. After the birth certificate and “how did he get into Harvard and Columbia” nonsense dragged many of us PBO supporters to a new psychological low; a painful low which Baratunde Thurston captured poignantly in his Youtube video last week, certainly the surprising news of the successful Osama bin Laden mission was more than cathartic. The strategic, tactical and stealth brilliance of the whole mission, a culmination of one of President Obama’s earliest campaign promises was nothing short of an adrenaline booster. No one could be faulted from screaming giddily or saying a sober prayer for a painful American chapter closed. No question about it.
Video: Bill Maher calls Pres. Obama “black Ninja Gangsta”
But what is galling is the professional skeptics’ and ankle-biters’ 180 degree whiplash turn from calling this President a “wimp”, “sissy” “Obambi” now to calling him “Don Corleone”, “Black ninja gangsta” or “badass.” And this reveals the fundamental racial psychosis in this country. To wit, Black males cannot ever be considered as three dimensional complex rational human beings. They can only be pigeon-holed into two categories – dumb or dangerous.
I daresay, the latter category which at this moment of fawning praise for the President would seem (and “seem” is the operative word here) to be a positive attribute because of the killing of Osama bin Laden, I categorically argue that these sudden praises do NOT represent a genuine change of opinion about this President’s stellar intellectual and strategic thinking.
Video: Bill Maher calls Pres. Obama a wimp
Simply put, they have merely changed the frame of the vessel they want to box him into. Same shit different cover; the imagery from wimp to gladiator. The crucial demand on him is to be a permanent physical performer, a hamster on a wheel or Sisyphus on a never-ending stair. And it is a performance that is always framed as a series of disconnected events. President Obama’s critics NEVER link his actions in any given moment to anything he has ever done before. Whatever he does is always “new” and “surprising”. They don’t acknowledge any narrative arc to his actions, and so everything he does is always framed in the historical present, just as old-time anthropologists described the “culture and customs” of “natives” and “aborigines” in the condescending historical present tense, as if they were lab experiments under observation.
And so in the minds of the skeptics, the bin Laden mission could not have had any direct tactical similarity to the President’s decision making about surgically resolving the pirates’ standoff in April 2009. Oh no. His doggedness in the face of ever escalating obstacles could not have anything to do with how we all saw him run his campaign and focus like a Vulcan on the delegate math to win even when his poll numbers were subterranean. Oh no. Nor does it remind us of his persistence in reviving what everybody thought was a dead healthcare bill after Democrats lost Ted Kennedy’s senate seat. Oh no. That he “massacred” the Republican House caucus at their Baltimore retreat on Jan 29, 2010, and again at the second White House healthcare summit on both the policy front and politicking brazenness. Oh no. Nor did this mission demonstrate the exact same cool resolve just as he did find a winning path through the two cancerous legislative houses last December to get a second stimulus for the Middle Class, overturning Don’t Ask Don’t Tell, and the START treaty, or even the recent 2011 budget deal. Oh no.
To the ankle biters he cannot have been competent enough to stop us from falling off the Bush created recession cliff and single-handedly save a whole industry –the auto industry, and jumpstart one – clean energy. Oh no. On the national security and foreign policy fronts (I have no idea why many pundits collapse the two), this President cannot have been a strategic thinker enough to have realized that the Iraq war was a “dumb war” diversion from our real national interests when everyone was rah rah-ing like compliant poodles. Oh no. He cannot possibly have influenced Nouri al Maliki’s eager endorsement of candidate Obama’s call for a “timetable” to exit Iraq in 2008, a shift which Bush himself and Condi Rice both rapidly adopted in the face of changing global winds. Oh no. President Obama cannot be credited with crafting a foreign policy thrust that has gotten prior global skeptics (Russia and China) aligned with our interests (e.g. on Iran, global action on securing loose nuclear weapons, on Libya) Oh no. These and many many more achievements of this President, in the face of virulent bigotry, and the worst obstruction by both political opponents and so-called in-party allies, cannot in any way be signs of a smart thinker and savvy strategist. Oh no. These are all just …well,.. unconnected lucky happenings under his tenure.
And so it follows that in this bin Laden mission, President Obama’s action in the minds of his critics and instant praise-singers now simply is either the outcome of a primal manly scream (we knew he was a black buck somehow), or luck (after all how hard can it be, all he had to do was to say yes), and even then he “dithered for 16 hours”, or an absence (his national security team had to overrule him anyway). Of course, others like former White House Chief of Staff Andrew Card charge that he is taking too much credit:
“I think he has pounded his chest a little too much…He can take pride in it, but he does not need to show it so much… I thought his statement was subdued, but I think his schedule is not subdued. Personally, I think it is premature to go to Ground Zero, in New York. I think my role model in this would be George H. W. Bush, when the Berlin Wall came down in 1989. It was a day to celebrate, but we did not dance on the Wall.”
Oh Really? Yeah That black guy cannot be allowed to bask in the glory of hitting the ultimate jackpot, the very national security and foreign policy trophy that the GOP has falsely wielded all these decades even though their actual foreign policy actions have been nothing but disastrous. That they have successfully hoodwinked the American public into trusting them as “daddies’ has been misplaced is what lies behind Card’s jealous carping. They know the jig is up. As Maher said Friday night, President Obama “ate their lunch”. And I daresay he belched big time after wolfing down their fake trophy.
But this vacillation between weakling and ninja gangsta in the punditocracy’s assessment of President Obama recalls a critical point that Ida B. Wells Barnett made in her famous 19th century text – A Red Record – that explained the rationale for the rise in the lynching of black males. She said that black males went from being perceived as human machines and simpletons during slavery, to being dangerous over-sexed predators whose bodies had to be feared and “disciplined” (i.e. lynched). The twin narrative we are hearing this week recalls this primal fear in the white American psyche – the virile Obama (to the Mahers and Dowds), and the lawless Obama (to the strange bedfellows Greenwald, Yoo, Fox News, and Hamsher) who ordered an assassination mission. As Dowd puts it President Obama had finally put this country’ s “Oedipal ghosts” to rest. It is quite instructive that this past week has called up Sigmund Freud from the grave.
The big lesson from all this is that we actually do have a President Badassssss, but not in the testosterone oozing and hyper phallic puffing sense. Oh no. President Obama does not need any of that. What is making his detractors hop really mad is that he has shrewdly co-opted their fantasy symbols of virility, destroyed their false potency then replaced them with his own mix of smarts and chutzpah – a la Sun Tzu. It kinda reminds you of Langston Hughes’ famous poem, “I, Too, Sing America”
I am the darker brother.
They send me to eat in the kitchen
When company comes,
But I laugh,
And eat well,
And grow strong.
I’ll be at the table
When company comes.
Say to me,
“Eat in the kitchen,”
They’ll see how beautiful I am
And be ashamed–
I, too, am America.
President Obama, sing on brother, sing on…. As the Igbo of Nigeria say, “you cracked your own palm kernels.”