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"The Arrogance" of Serving While Black...A Rant

By Suzi LeVeaux - Posted on 20 July 2011

I don't think anyone was under some illusion that the election of Barack Obama actually meant the end of racism in America. I'm pretty sure that the President knew it better than anyone.  After all, he saw it every day, from the moment he announced his candidacy. To some degree, he saw it within his own party during the primaries. And he saw it in all ugliness during the general election. For half of this country, he was "That One". No matter how big and clear his victory was. No matter how smart he is. No matter how decent he is. No matter what a true patriot he is. No matter how optimistic and positive his vision for America is.  All that didn't matter. Because at the end of the day, he was still Black.

I'm getting pretty old.  I remember where I was on November 22, 1963.  I've seen many presidents... some were feared, some were hated, some were adored, some popular and some not.  But all of them, without exception, were treated with the respect deserved by the office of the president of the United States.

That is until a black man won the right to occupy this office. It's been over two and a half years now,  and in the eyes of so many, Barack Obama is still "That One".  He is being disrespected and at the same time being held to the highest standard of any president I've ever seen, and not just by the Republican side! He has to perform three times better than any president in history, and even that may not be enough.

For the media, he is many more times just "Obama" than "President Obama". They create scandals out of nothing issues. It took them at least 6 years to start giving Bush a small part of the crap he deserved. It took them 6 months to begin to bash President Obama because he's yet to fix the catastrophe that was left for him.

They use condescending tones when they talk about him, and only mildly less condescending when they talk TO him.  With anyone else, cable news wouldn't dare go to commercials when the president speaks, as they often do now. They wouldn't dare be counting how many minutes George Bush or Bill Clinton were talking. Chris Mathews wouldn't dare make an issue out of Ronald Regan calling members of congress by their first name, like he is not actually the president. They fully cooperate with the Right-Wing smear machine when it comes to President Obama's national security performance... even if almost every independent and military expert actually thinks that he's a terrific Commander-in-Chief.  You'll never see them on TV,  and virtually no one from the Left, in congress and outside, defends the president on this matter.

I don't care about the Far-Right. They're just crazy ignorant Neanderthals. It's the way the beltway and the mainstream treats this president that is shocking. In meetings, Republicans have no trouble interrupting him in the middle of a sentence. They look like they're going to vomit every time they have to say "Mr. President". They all have this Eric-Cantor-Smirk whenever he speaks. Then they go out to spew their stupid talking points, to the delight of the media. Sarah Palin, a woman who can hardly read, thinks that he was "arrogant" towards John McCain, and somehow this is an important news. Because you see, "Obama's Arrogance" is the talking point of the day.

Oh, those talking points... he is arrogant (because he knows the facts better than all of them combined).  He is an elitist (because he uses big words that they don't understand).  He is weak on national security (because he actually thinks about the consequences).  He divides the country (well, he did that the day he had the audacity to win the election).  Worst of all, he actually thinks that he's the President of the United States.  He even dares to say so. How arrogant of him. Somehow it's turned out that the one president who treats even his biggest opponents with the utmost respect is the arrogant one. I wonder why.

I expected that his winning the Presidency would bring out some ugliness, but it's been far worse than I imagined. The racism coming from the Right is obviously clear and shameless, but there's also some hidden and maybe subconscious underlying tone behind some of the things that I read throughout the left blogosphere, even before the end of Obama's first year - 'He's weak, he's spineless, he's got no balls, primary him in 2012'. It would be dishonest to deny that, as we are seeing that meme more and more with the debt crisis.

The fact is that for millions in America, Barack Obama is this uppity black man (Not even a "real" black), who received good education only due to affirmative action, and has no right to litter the sacred Oval Office with his skin color. They just can't accept the fact that the president is a black man, who unlike his predecessor, was actually legally elected. But what's really sad is that it's not just the fringe, it's deep deep in mainstream America .  The ones who say "I'm not racist, but..."

Barack Obama's ability to remain above all of this, to keep his optimism and his strange and mostly unjustified faith in people, while continuing to gracefully deal with an endless mess, is one of the most inspiring displays of human dignity, intelligence and patience  I have ever seen.

Suzi, I don't think it's anywhere near as bad as it could get.  I think, I know any person of color in any position of authority will always be expected to perform many times better than anyone else. It's just the way it is. That person is absolutely aware of this or should be aware. If not they shouldn't be in the position. I personally do not think it's been as bad as it could be. I think it could get waaayyyyyy worse. I honestly thought it would be more contentious by now. But there is always another 1.5yrs and maybe a 2nd term.

I know you're right, mliggs, but even if that's just the way it is, it's still wrong!!   I have never seen so much disrespect, subtle and overt, for a President in my lifetime.  And I've been around for a long time. ;-)  I shudder to think what the coming election season will bring. 

I'm not seeing any of this, Suzi. Maybe it's because I don't watch TV news, but I don't see Obama being treated (that much) worse than Bush except by the usual suspects.

That is, I don't see the widespread disprespect which you are detailing.

I think they're doing as much as they can get away with, and hoping he fails at every turn. I do think that people find it a lot easier to stretch the truth when attacking Obama than they ever did with Clinton, Carter and a whole lot of other Democrats because he is so much different, in terms of race, upbringing, etc.

I am extremely thankful that the economy stabilized after the crash. If we had gotten 25-30% unemployment like some were predicting at the time, I am confident that all hell would have broken loose in this country once Obama got into office. Similarly, there are a lot of apocolypic types out there that want the U.S. to fall apart during the Obama administration so his craziest critics can feel vindicated.

Bingo!  I agree, and see and hear things that astound me. 

As for the economy, I think there are those who want the economy to tank, not only for vindication, but as a political tool to regain the White House.  This is one of the things that is upsetting me the most about the current incarnation of the GOP.   They are willing to risk our whole economy, and the well being of most Americans, for political gain.

If you don't watch TV news, you are no doubt missing a lot of it Tin.  Even with the usual suspects (Fox) it goes far beyond what I've seen in the past. 
I also think you live in a part of the country where bigotry isn't as widespread.  Be thankful for that.

(Standing up and applauding)  Well said Suzi!  Well said!

"Sometimes you're the windshield, sometimes you're the bug."  -- Mark Knopfler

Suzi, this is a spot on observation.  Well said!

Excellent "rant" Suzi. You expressed beautifully so much of what I see and feel. I think the reason it's not obvious to many people is that the Republicans are not dumb, they seem to skirt the line, but know certain lines they can't cross. Then again, they have become more bold so they "old lines" we used to have are being replaced as they push a little further and experiment with a new brand of subtly. The whole "friends with terrorists" thing may end up seeming harmless compared to what is to come. I do think Pres. Obama is handling this flawlessly. He is not defensive or openly angry or aggressive (imagine how that would look for a black man.) Instead, he is calm and debunks every false narrative with action. Have we heard anything more of his friendship with terrorists now that Osama bin Laden is dead? Could we possibly find more of a "family man?" I have been really intrigued with Pres. Obama's mother and I credit her for shaping the life of our president in a way that makes him such a successful President: open-mindedness, understanding of other cultures and diversity, willingness to compromise, not letting others define you and taking baby steps to create big change. Michelle Obama has certainly helped, too. Her support is instrumental.

This is my first post here, although I have been reading since the site first turned up during the 2008 campaign and I first thank you for all the work that has been done to elect President Obama. 

This post really hit me as I see I am far from the only one that knows the injustice that President Obama has suffered because he is considered BLACK.

I grew up in the Deep South (Tightest knotch in the Bible Belt) in Southwest Georgia. I "escaped" there when I joined the Navy at 17 and have never considered more than visiting family members once in a while. 

I did not just see racism, I grew up in the midst of it. Your post, with a few tweeks here (one reallh big one) and there could have been written in the early sixties! Thought I knew more than most white folks about racism. That was until many years ago I married a black woman. That changed my life (and exposure too blatant racism) and I can say this post is so insigtful, eyes really wide open.

Thank you for the post and for the work the folks associated with the Election of President Obama. I myself went from "just a voter in a RED Congressional District in NORCAL to a 2008 Obama National Delegate,"  so I know just how important the work you do is.

Thanks and let's do it again!

Suzi awesome job regarding your comments on the treatment of the President of the United States! You hit the hammer on the head! Curtis I really enjoyed reading your message regarding being raised in the Deep South then moving away, marrying a black woman and discovering the reality of discrimination as it exist in our society. Suzi I really applaud you for your very candid and blatant exposure of the disposition of the “The Powers to be” actions against our President. I don't think it is okay for anyone to "JUST TO Accept IT" no more than a woman should have to tolerate being treated less than a person amongst an all male environment. Simply because Intolerance exists in our society towards women, or someone's sexual orientation, race or religion doesn't mean that they just have to accept it as the way it is. However, there is the awareness of what battles are worth fighting. The reactions and responses towards our President is just a symptom of what continues to persist in our society. Unfortunately, these behaviors raises its ugly head because of the shifting of POwer or Position of the sitting African American President. In any process of change, there is always chaos before a new establishment of change is made. I consider it a good sign that the President is ruffling a lot of feathers and getting under the skins of many because of their own arrogance! Certainly, their Strategy is to pervert every good behavior, deed, spoken word, policy and actions of the President into a negative thing!! I believe open minded, conscientious, self aware Americans are appalled by the treatment of the President (as we should be!). If we are not disturbed by these behaviors, how can change happen? These behaviors will persist!! Kudos to you Suzi for being an advocate for justice!!

Thank you all for the nice words.  We have to work together, and expose this attitude for what it is.  Having been, in my own small way, a Civil Rights activist since the late 60's, and living my entire life in the Deep South, I too have seen racism in all of it's forms.  As a blue-eyed blonde, I hear things, especially in group settings, which expose people's real feelings, because they assume everyone feels the same way.  I've sent a few shock waves through many gatherings, and lost friends along the way. 

Friday night, the President called John Boehner to discuss the debt ceiling crisis.  Boehner did not return his call.  Saturday morning, the POTUS called the Speaker again....Boehner was "unavailable", and did not return President Obama's call untill 5:30 that afternoon.   Protocol in Washington D.C. requires that if at all possible, one takes the President's call immediately.  If not, they return it as soon as humanly possible.  This unheard of breach of protocol, is the most recent, blatant, example of disrespect for this particular President.  Partisanship had nothing to do with it.


Boehner and the entire GOP are marching to the Tea Party tune (especially in the House, they feel they have no choice).

Just wait until the 2012 electons come around, and the people who didn't bother to show up in 2010 because there was no White House race actually go to the polls. That will send another shock wave across the landscape, but it's the Tea Partiers who will be shocked this time around.

Fame is indeed fleeting!




It won't be enough of a shock for Nancy Pelosi to become speaker again.  Republicans will retain the House and likely take the Senate in 2012.

"Republicans will retain the House" -probably, and "likely take the Senate in 2012". Don't think so!

Brandon, do you honestly think intelligent voters will prefer the insanity that has become the House of Representatives to the "threat" of Pelosi becoming speaker again??

The Democrats have a couple of problems that make the chances of them taking back the House slim.  

1.  Blue Dog Democrats are dying out.  There were 54 in the last Congress, only 25 today.  16 of those Blue Dogs have a good chance of being beaten next year.  The Democrats have a huge problem in the South.  Yes, the threat of Pelosi is still toxic in Dixie.

2.  The massive Republican victories in state legislatures in 2010 got very little news coverage.  But this was a major gain for the GOP.  These are the legislators who will decide on redistricting their states based on the 2010 census results.  The Republican legislatures will make sure that many GOP leaning districts get even safer for the party and in certain states will get to eliminate a house district or two.  

Remember that while Congress might get low approval ratings as a body, voters usually like their individual representative which is one of the reasons why incumbents are so hard to defeat.   Too many Democrats seem to be in denial over how BAD their loss was in 2010, one of the biggest in history.  If they had a clue, Pelosi would no longer be the minority leader. 

As for the Senate:

There are 23 Democrats up for reelection in 2012, only 10 Republicans.  GOP only need 4 seats to gain control.

Of the 10 Republicans up for reelection, only 3 elections could even be competitive (MA, AZ, NV).
Of the 23 Democrats up for reelection, retiring senators Kent Conrad (ND) and Jim Webb (VA) have seats that will likely go GOP.  WI and NM also have senators who are retiring where the GOP will be very competitive.
3 Democrats running for re-election are in deep trouble:  Ben Nelson (NE), Claire McCaskill (MO) and Bill Nelson (FL).  McCaskill is almost certain to lose.  There are other seats in the Senate like OH and MI where the GOP with the right candidate could win.  Remember we only need to win 4.



There are seven toss-ups at the moment, six of them Democratic: Joe Lieberman (D-CT), Claire McCaskill (D-MO), Jon Tester (D-MT), Ben Nelson (D-NE), Heller, (who hold's Ensign's seat) (R-NV), Sherrod Brown (D-OH), and Jim Webb (D-VA).

Brown and Snowe's seats are also quite vulnerable, and if either of them lose, it will be to a Democrat, IMO.

It will be an interesting election season, and I think much of the Senate and House outcome will depend on voter turnout, and down ticket voters.

You know that Webb is retiring right? Man, I sure wish that he would run again, or that he would run for president in 2016!

I knew he was retiring after one term.  His seat was formerly held by a Republican, and that's why it's now considered a toss-up.
What is it about Webb that makes you wish he would run for President?? 

He's a strong moderate voice who can appeal to both Democrats and Republicans. He has pro-military and pro-veteran record both as a veteran himself and as the father of a veteran, but with caution towards starting new military actions. He has introduced and stood behind a bill to re-examine the US criminal justice system from top to bottom in order to improve it for both victims and defendents.

I'm not an expert on him, but perusing his website (and having done in the past) there are plenty of things with which I agree with him.

I think that he is articulate and that he has the leadership skills and ethical grounding that the US desperately needs in the Executive branch. Which is probably also why he wouldn't run.

In fact, if there were more Democrats like Jim Webb, then I might even register as one myself. And even better if there were more Republicans like Jim Webb.

Sadly, being the first African American President is not the only "first" President Obama can claim...

Other "firsts" for President Obama which, in my opinion, are sadly a result result of him being the first African American President of the United States:

This is just a partial list but I am sure he will collect many more "firsts" that should not be considered a reflection of his character, but rather a reflection of the character of this country

Good list. 

I think that much of the attacks against the President are because of his race. Because it's not PC to say "I don't like him because he's black," some pretend that the problems they have are based on policy. 
Also, his race (and upbringing) makes it much easier for his opponents to paint him as the "other." Much easier for people to believe that he's un-American, a socialist, evil, or just generally different because he is half-black. Many of these accusations would have a harder time sticking if he was a white guy. 


When I see pictures of signs at rallies of Obama with a Hitler mustache, or signs calling him a Nazi-Muslim-Socialist, I know in my heart those are just being used because they know better than to use the "N-word." 

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