Tuesday, September 16, 2008

C.Y.I.N. Case Study: Angry Black Guy Or Milquetoast Negro?!?

Anyone who's read the site for some time knows I'm an Obama supporter. I've given money, I've taken days off work to volunteer, and I've continually used this forum to lend my backing to the campaign. I support him because he seems to be a different sort of candidate. He is correct in his stances on the issues that matter most to me. His ability to inspire others to contribute more to this country, as opposed to expecting the government to fix everything is right in line with this site's unofficial mission. His intellect, judgement, and willingness to thoroughly consider all options as opposed to deploying on-a-whim strong and wrong rationale when making a decision makes me believe he has the temperament to run this country. The fact that he's the best candidate and just so happens to be black is merely icing on the cupcake.

In short, I'm on board.

[Editor's Note: If you're on board, click on some of them AdSense links so I can cop myself a fresh pair of New Balance for the Fall.]

That's not to say I haven't had my share of issues with Mr. Obama, and I've used this forum to make equally strong critiques of his campaign. His unwillingness to consider offshore drilling, before reversing course without a thorough explanation didn't rub me the right way. Ditto for his support of FISA, which I don't personally object to (it's not like I've got anything to hide), but apparently enough others do. But perhaps my biggest qualm with Barry is the very characteristic that many (myself included, just to further confuse you) cite as his greatest attribute: his unflappability.

I'll give it to dude. Through six tough months of battling The Clinton Machine, he consistently showed class and never stooped to their level of mudslinging. His family, his faith, his patriotism, and his church were under constant attack, but he never "lost it", and he certainly never went into full C.Y.I.N. mode. I didn't care for this approach at the time, but in retrospect, I get it. Obama was new on the scene, and more importantly, he was facing an opponent whose views on the issues were essentially identical to his. When that's the case, as it was during the Democratic primaries, the way to distinguish yourself is with your personality. In short, his coolness under fire drew a huge contrast to Hillary Clinton's constant displays of crying and unbridled rage. It was essential, and well, it worked.

The fullblown campaign vs McCain is a different game altogether. It's like going from winning your conference tournament to trying to make it to the Final Four. You're no longer taking on familiar opponents in familiar environments. Sure, it's the same game fundamentally, but the intensity level rises, and with that, your approach has to adjust. Thus far, Obama has failed to effectively do this.

After he secured his party's nomination, the GOP started picking him apart like we knew they would (despite McCain's promises to run an admirable campaign) and unleashed the dogs. They've painted him as a hollow celebrity, played the race card against him, pulled up his past associations, sicced a programmed Pitbull in a skirt on him, and through it all, purposely distorted his views and experience to comical proportions.

Obama's response: play it cool. The polls: not so much.

Now, with his back to the wall and Americans oddly transfixed on Sarah Palin, it seems like Barry's finally, finally, finally figured out that the way his current campaign is running is virtually guaranteeing a one-way ticket back to Capitol Hill. It took him some time, but he even admitted as much last week.
Sen. Barack Obama and his campaign launched a promised counterpunch against Sen. John McCain on Friday, portraying him as an aging, out-of-touch politician who would cater to "fat-cat" lobbyists and continue President Bush's economic policies.

With two new television advertisements, a campaign memo to supporters and a two-day trip through New Hampshire, Obama sought to regain his footing amid faltering poll numbers, a continuing assault by his Republican presidential rival and rising worries among Democrats about his campaign.

If Democrats were expecting a dramatic change in words, tone or temperament, they did not get it. While McCain attacked him as a pampered, fading celebrity, a sexist and a desperate bully, Obama stuck to familiar themes linking the senator from Arizona to Bush and Washington lobbyists.

Even after being prodded by the audience in Dover, Obama appeared reluctant to get too aggressive. Glenn Grasso, 39, a doctoral student, pleaded: "When and how are you going to start fighting back?"

Obama responded by calling McCain's ads "just fabricated" and "just made up," an answer that spurred some to shout out: "Lies."

In a memo to supporters, Obama campaign manager David Plouffe said: "In recent weeks, John McCain has shown that he is willing to go into the gutter to win this election. His campaign has become nothing but a series of smears, lies and cynical attempts to distract from the issues that matter to the American people."

Plouffe assured supporters that "we will respond with speed and ferocity to John McCain's attacks and we will take the fight to him, but we will do it on the big issues that matter to the American people."
I'm not really convinced that we'll see Barry turn into an attack dog. As much as I want to see this, I wonder if it's even something that comes naturally to him. By turning dramatically changing the tone of his rhetoric, he runs the risk of coming off as contrived, or worse, losing the appeal that so many admired about him from the start, much like John McCain.

Then of course, there's the race thing, which brings me to the point of this post. Many have said that if Obama suddenly C.Y.I.N.'s and morphs into DMX, he runs the risk of being labeled an "Angry Black Man" and blowing the whole wad. I've heard this uttered so often it makes my head hurt, but 99% of the time, it's usually another black person who's saying it. Never mind the fact that 99% of those in the media challenging Obama to grow a pair happen to be white.

So, I guess I have to ask you guys, why in the world do we think that Obama showing some guts and fighting back would suddenly regulate him to "Angry Black Guy" status and deep-six the whole campaign? Are there well-documented public examples of such a thing that serve as evidence for why he shouldn't? I'll admit, I've occasionally thought the same, but I wonder if this isn't one of those things black folks fabricate say amongst ourselves without any real evidence to back it up. Sorta like how we say "Black folks don't swim" or "if that was a black woman, you know..." and whatnot. Seriously, how do we know how the world would respond?

I don't ask this being facetious, I'm really posing the question because I'd like to hear some legit examples. If you've got em', do tell.

Question: Does Obama run the risk of being labelled an "Angry Black Guy" if he starts whoopin' a$$ and takin' names? If you think so, why? Can you think of any real life examples of this audacious double standard?

Obama Campaign Begins Counterattack [WashPost]

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