11/29/07

NPR Roundtable

Yesterday I was on NPR's Bloggers' Roundtable Discussion segment on the show News and Notes. I just listened to the show again--of course, while it was going on, I felt that I was stumbling over my words, but listening again, it didn't seem that way. Of course, I didn't make all of the points I had in mind.

This is always the challenge with these live shows. As a writer and researcher, I write and revise. But on live radio, that's it! You've got one shot, no time to reflect on things.

The other guests were Debra Dickerson and L.N. Rock of African American Pundit.

The first topic was a new survey by the Joint Center for Political and Economic Studies about black voters preferring Hillary Clinton over Barack Obama.

It doesn’t really matter who blacks vote for in the primary. Democrats can count on them during the general election. My former radio co-host, Eliot Morgan, makes the point that the black vote is as mysterious and as unpredictable as who is in Grant’s Tomb.

After every election in which 80 to 90 percent of blacks vote the straight Democrat ticket, we hear that next time, the black vote shouldn’t be taken for granted, that blacks need to be active in both parties. But we can see that according to the Joint Center that almost 90 percent of blacks will be voting in the Democrat primaries. I don’t see any reason that blacks, if they vote, won’t go 80 to 90 percent for Democrats again.

I don’t know when is the last time the black vote has been in doubt in the past four decades.

I was going to admit my bias: I seriously doubt that I'll be voting for any of the Democrats running. When I hear them talking, I'm reminded of the Capital One commercial: What's In Your Wallet? Not only do Democrats want to know what's in your wallet, but they want at least half. That's not to say that I'll be voting for any of the Republicans running. As economist Stephen Moore has pointed out: Republicans were put on earth to do one thing: Cut taxes. And they can't even get that right.

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The second topic was about Obama discussing his use of drugs and alcohol as a youngster. The first question was on whether or not Obama's answer was too honest!

Wait...a politician being too honest? As I mentioned on the show, we should not attack that endangered species--politicians being honest--when it shows up unexpected.

While those of us in the chattering class are constantly seeking greater meaning out of the actions of politicians, I suspect Obama had some strategic moves in mind:

1) He is drawing a direct contrast to the first black president's declaration that he did not inhale. As of late, Clinton and Obama have been chippy with each other.

2) Obama is still trying to prove that he is really black, that he's not a Magic Negro, so he may be trying to prove he has some street cred. Of course, that street cred was probably smoking week in an Ivy League dorm room...

I'm one of those folks who still doesn't understand why people have more credibility on an issue because they've experienced it. I'm not saying experience is irrelevant. But I guess if I want to go on a speaking tour discouraging kids from not using drugs that I apparently I need to start using them and get arrested.

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The final topic was Jesse Jackson saying that none of the Democrat candidates have the right social justice message. In April, Jackson endorsed Obama, but he is now calling him out. Jackson now says that Edwards is the only candidate with the right social justice message.

As usual, Jackson is more impressed with words rather than actions--and the actions he wants would devastate black Americans. As much as Jackson talks about the importance of personal responsibility, you can be sure once there is government policy actually putting responsibility on individuals to take care of themselves that Jackson will be out in front in opposition. The example that comes to mind immediately is welfare reform of the mid-1990s. Jackson was being alarmist talking about America turning its back on the poor.

John Edwards opening his campaign in the Ninth Ward of New Orleans looked to me like a criminal returning to the scene of the crime. He talks about addressing poverty, just as a company he is affiliated with is foreclosing on poor people.

CJL