Obama is Failing the Gays

“Doc, I sure hope you know what you’re doing.”

I don’t know if Marty McFly said those exact words to Doc Brown in Back To The Future, but the idea of the hero trusting the eccentric inventor/doctor/risk taker when no one else does is a staple of dramas far and wide. In that vein, I say this to the Obama administration when it comes to gay rights:

“Barack, I sure hope you know what you’re doing.”

The gay community ranges from concerned but hopeful (Andrew Sullivan) to ready to go to the mattresses (Dan Savage) over the actions and inactions of the Obama administration. Since Obama has been in office he has allowed members of the armed forces to be court-martialed under the Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell statute. His administration has filed a brief in California in support of the Defense of Marriage Act; a law that decrees the Federal Government may not treat same-sex relationships as marriages for any purpose, even if concluded or recognized by one of the states. This is in sharp contrast to promises made on the campaign trail to the gay community.

Until today, I was fully confident that Team Obama was working behind the scenes, making sure when policies and laws were changed; they were changed for good and not subject to crippling opposition. For example, he had to learn from President Clinton’s failure of fulfilling his campaign pledge of allowing gay to serve openly which lead to DADT in the first place.

Now, I’m only partially confident. You can make the argument Obama has made more positive overtures to Iran than gay Americans; he surely has made more public overtures. If you want to be really cynical, you could say Obama is treating gay Americans like the Democratic party has been accused of treating African-Americans; giving them noting but lip service with the knowledge they have no where else to go politically.

I still believe there can be a happy ending to this. It isn’t as hard as the Middle East peace processes and the Americans who would rally against DADT and DOMA were probably not voting for Obama in the first place. I just hope the happy ending happens soon, before I have to join the proverbial group that gives up on the Doctor.


Robert Powell = Sista Souljah

You can almost set your watch to it. At some point during election night coverage on an 24 hour news network, a Republican operative will respond to a media exit poll stating African-Americans vote Democratic by a wide margin by stating the party has to do a better job getting their message out to African-Americans. I don’t believe it Republicans really mean it. Maybe not all Republicans (Gov. Chralie Crist comes to mind) but as a party, it doesn’t seem they want to do the heavy lifting (or any lifting for that matter) to repair this void in their electoral maps.

Which brings me to Robert Powell.

Officer (as of 11pm 3/26) Powell is now infamous for pulling over NFL running back Ryan Moats and his family as they rushed to the hospital to say goodbye to a terminally ill family member. Video from the police car’s on board camera recorded Powell threatening to arrest Moats for running a traffic light as he and others in the car tried to explain their rush to the hospital and methodically holding the occupants there as hospital security guard confirmed the story to write a ticket. The family did not make it into the hospital in time to say goodbye. Because Moats is a football player in football crazy Texas, this has become news. The Dallas police chief has apologized to the family and Powell is on paid administrative leave.

If Republicans were serious about the African-American vote for a moment, they would be tripping over each other setting up press conferences (with the Moats family in attendance) decrying this abuse of power and calling for the termination of the officer (which will probably happen anyway). They don’t even have to mention race, black people will get it. And this case is so egregious, only the most unrepentant racist would dare call this racial politics. Texas governor Rick Perry should be all over this, it is perfect.

But that would mean Republicans actually care enough about the African-American vote to make their own version Sista Souljah. Sure worked well enough for Bill Clinton in 1992.


Don't buy those Michael Steele commerative plates just yet

I guess Michael Steele winning the Republican National Committee Chairmanship is historic, in the way Pumpsie Green being the first African American player to play for the Boston Red Sox (The Sox being the last MLB team to integrate) is historic.

Frankly, if Steele didn’t win the post, it would have been a bigger story. Steele’s last opponent for the post (five other gentleman were up for the position, dropping out when it became evident victory was out of reach) was South Carolina GOP chief Katon Dawson, who dropped a membership of a all-white golf club in 2008. Other candidates were Mike Duncan, the then incumbent chairman (when your party get the national drubbing it did in 2008, the guy in charge of the party doesn’t really have a lot to base reelection on) and former Tennessee GOP chairman Chip Saltsman (who thought it was a good idea to send his associates a mix CD with the “Barack The Magic Negro” parody song for Christmas). If Steele, who is as bland as Oatmeal made with water, couldn’t beat these guys, it would signify the GOP is doubling down on the Real America/Not Real America that worked so well in November.

And Steele loves puppies!

Not to mention Chairman of the Republican National Committee barely gives him the prestige to ensure his regular table at the Mrs. K's Toll House Sunday brunch. Current Virginia governor Tim Kaine is doing the job on the Democratic side on a part time basis until his current term ends in 2010). He moves up the list of people the 24 hour news networks call for punditry, but that is about it.

What is more interesting to me is some conservatives consider his victory an ode to identity politics, as if Steele was any less qualified (he was the chairman for the Maryland GOP before becoming Lt. Governor) than anyone else for the post. While I am sure some of this was bitterness that their respective candidates didn’t win (PUMA’s anyone?), some of it has to be the idea the main reason an African-American candidate for anything wins is because of his or her race. Of course, this did not stop the GOP from giving Steele a speaking part at their national convention; it seems for the GOP, identity politics are okay as long as the identity in question doesn’t actually have any power.