Well I'm going to go out on a limb here, and it may bring a storm of criticism from friends and/or strangers, but I have to say it: I was not at all impressed by the First Lady's speech. Bill Clinton. Even less so. And the frowns and shaking of heads begin. While I may not be as politically savvy as some of my comrades out there with more of their fingers on the political pulse, I do have an opinion about what I have seen and heard so far based on where my finger does lie. My own pulse and the politics of the personal.
(This writing was inspired in part by this one: Michelle Obama Looked Great Last Night...)
Let me just say for the record that I am and was as proud as any other black person in Amerikkka to see a black man and woman as president and first lady. Proud. Damnit. But don't get it twisted. I have every right to critique him as I would Bush, Romney and the like. Why wouldn't I? Why wouldn't you? So let me have my say...
Now, I'm as emotional as they come, but I couldn't muster up one teary eye let alone two. A lot of people said that they cried during the first lady's speech, which made me anxious to check it out. I like a good cry as much as the next person. I kept waiting for that moment...and waiting...and waiting...Nada. Zip. Zilch. Tear ducts as dry as Jan Brewer's pussy must be (I'm guessing). I began to wonder what others saw or heard that I was missing? Yes, her dress, heels, nails, hair, make-up were flawless. She had just the right amount of shine. She most always does. While some have said she is the black version of Jackie O, I'd venture to say that she is her own woman, not to be compared to a white woman, just as I never could agree with folks who said Clinton was our first black president. No. He. Wasn't. He is a white man from Arkansas. A man who ended welfare as we knew it. A man who forced, not "moved" people off the program, not into the middle-class but deeper into poverty. But you all know that. Right? Anyway...
Our current FLOTUS's public persona has been impeccable, too. She has gotten more media attention than any other that I can think of (maybe Eleanor Roosevelt), and she can hold her own. She ain't no joke. No sir. No ma'am. But the way folks were carrying on, one would think it was Mrs. Obama, not Mr. Obama running for re-election. Many of the comments on Facebook have expressed the willingness to vote for her if she were to ever run (and on a Hillary/Michelle ticket...ugh!). But she's not. Her husband is. And while I think that she certainly can effectively deliver a speech much better than Jackie O ever could, it wasn't enough to really convince me to vote for her man again. I'm not saying that Romney would get my vote, either...I'm not that fucking crazy. But I have not been so moved to re-consider an incumbent who has not supported communities under siege from the police, under the constant threat of foreclosures and homelessness, but rather would continue to allow banks to get away with murder (literally and figuratively as some folks have not survived the slaughter). But again, I don't need to tell ya'll this because you know. His silence about what is really going on in our communities has been deafening. His words, however, have not been much better. And since he doesn't believe there is a "Black America, only the United States of America" I have to wonder what Black man or woman in their right mind really believes that shit. The view from where I stand begs to differ.
Read: What Obama Has Wrought and other intelligent critiques by Black Agenda Report.
Bill Clinton, also good in front of a camera and kind of a wizard with words--since so many folks thought he, too, stole the show at the DNC, was still lacking and his rhetoric as full of shit as ever. C'mon, this is the man who, like all the other political sexist hounds before and after him, went in front of the camera and said, finger pointing, "I did not have relations with that woman." However, there were a few truths parting from his lips, not that he's still not great at telling lies: 1) There was no way in hell that Obama could undo all the shit the Republicans managed to fuck up before he took office, not in 4 years he couldn't. Even though he failed to mention some of the crazy shit he did while democratically white and in charge including screwing up Aid to Families with Dependent Children... NAFTA...Glass-Steagall...but i digress. 2) Too many people don't yet feel that the economy has improved, and why in their right mind, would they? 3) In order to bring people into the highly skilled jobs that are left unfilled because of a less than highly skilled work force, we need to educate folks--yet he didn't bother to talk about how hard it is for folks to get into college because tuition cost is through the fucking roof while loan programs and certain grants have been eliminated, and Obama's current student loan program doesn't help folk who are no longer in school but having a hard time paying back previously borrowed money. 4) Poverty, discrimination and ignorance stunts growth. Yes, but this notion of creating wealth for all of us is nothing but a fallacy. A bold faced lie. So is the shared prosperity, shared opportunity, shared responsibility and shared community narrative. It's a myth for those of us on the bottom of the economic ladder who often fight like crabs in a barrel for anything remotely looking like prosperity or success. And what was up with all those "Middle Class First" signs? They were annoying and downright elitist! Poor People First!!!!! I would have been ecstatic if Bill had called that out. As Melissa Harris-Perry so eloquently put it, "Nothing is riskier than being poor in America." She also righteously points out that the so-called safety net never fails to catch and assist the wealthy, but for the poor, that net has holes big enough for us to fall through. Ain't that nothing.
Michelle and Bill, while great orators, failed to address quality of life issues that are being felt by people in my community. There was a lot of quantitative rhetoric spewing about, but nothing qualitative. Again, there was very little mention of the real poverty that people are facing, and that work hard ethic bullshit is tired. The opportunities for "poor folks to work their way into [the middle-class]" are as evasive as the opportunities that were supposed to be afforded us under the constitution and in the rhetoric of just about every politician who's ever run for office. These speeches just were more of the same. And that whole dialogue about healthcare was interesting. My mother, through the generosity of my brother, has had to purchase health insurance in addition to medicare because it is otherwise too expensive to get the quality affordable care that she needs and deserves. My sister in Arkansas, Clinton's home state, informed me today that she has been shopping around for health insurance since what she can receive from her medicare benefits is limited. She can't find a dentist that would accept medicare, and office visit co-pays to her treating physician is beyond her economic means. Our seniors and poor folk on disability still grapple with making a decision between care, medicine and putting food on the table or paying rent or utilities. Opportunities my black ass. It would seem that the poverty, discrimination and ignorance Bill Clinton speaks of is still a lesson lost on the Democrats, too. How ironic that he would say that the Republicans are trying to "end medicare as we know it" since it was exactly what he did and said about welfare.
See this amazing video with Melissa Harris-Perry, who should have been one of the speakers at the convention in my humble opinion:
So, no, neither Michelle Obama nor Bill Clinton restored any faith I may have had in the Democratic party let alone a democratic system. A system so flawed and hypocritical that I don't see it redeeming itself anytime soon. No sir. No ma'am. They had a lot to say (and like this piece, they both have strengths and weaknesses), and I get a sense they believed in what they said, as did many Americans, but it wasn't anything that deeply touched my heart. Too many contradictions. Way too many. They did look good saying it, though. I'll give them that. They get the honorable mention for best dressed speakers at a DNC platform. Michelle's fit was smart and sassy. Those arms and shoulders were seriously sculpted. Weren't they? She is just a damn good looking sista. Yeah she is. And Bill strangely looked younger than he did before or shortly after leaving office. Hmmmm. But the jury is still out on my vote (oh yes, I am voting) or my belief that Obama can pull a rabbit out of his hat in the next four years. The rhetoric just didn't phase me. I'm still checking my pulse.