Thank you, Andrew Young, for demonstrating two sides of the same dysfunctional coin. His remarks, reported this weekend, show a real poverty of faith in the power of change as well as a poorly-honed humor meter as it relates to race issues.
First, here we go with the whole "it's not his time" bull. That it's not his time, that Obama is not ready, that the world is not ready for a black man to be POTUS. "It's not a matter of being inexperienced. It's a matter of being young," Young said. "There's a certain level of maturity ... you've got to learn to take a certain amount of (expletive)." "There are more black people that Bill and Hillary lean on," Young said. "You cannot be president alone. ... To put a brother in there by himself is to set him up for crucifixion. His time will come and the world will be ready for a visionary leadership."
Let's ask Mr. Young to tell us the age at which he became Ambassador to the United Nations: 45. Obama would take office at the age of 47, one year older than Bill Clinton was when he took the oath. But perhaps it's not really age; perhaps what Young is really getting at is the fact that Senator Obama has not followed the party machinery's rules for ascendancy or that his street cred as a black politician was not honed during the civil rights era, where any "credible" black politician must have experience. Where any "credible" black politician must have 100% support from black people, as if he is to be judged by the color of his skin rather than the content of his character. Well, it's a new day, Mr. Young. A new era. A new time. Oprah nailed it during her speech today in South Carolina when she asked, "There are those who say it's not his time, that he should wait his turn. Think about where you'd be in your life if you'd waited when people told you to." How many women and minorities (and no doubt white men too) have heard those words about a promotion or a job change? "You're not ready yet. It's not your turn. Next time." It's bull when they say it to you, and it's bull when they say it about Obama.
Next, we move onto the risible statement that "Bill is every bit as black as Barack."
"He's probably gone with more black women than Barack," Young said of former President Clinton, drawing laughter from a live audience. Young, 75, was quick to follow his comment on Bill Clinton with the disclaimer, "I'm clowning." Clowning, perhaps. But in what time, place or manner is that funny? Sleeping with many black women makes you a black man? That fidelity to your wife makes you less of a black man? Mr. Young is a relic, and an unfunny one at that.
But what Mr. Young does show, on a positive and yet ironic note, is the universality of Barack Obama's candidacy. Some will say that Obama's "inability" to get the vote of African-Americans like Andrew Young point to a weakness in his campaign. I believe the opposite is true. Obama is speaking to--and for--Americans of all races and religions and ethnicities and socioeconomics. Obama is not The Black Candidate for President. He's the candidate for President who happens to be black. There is a tremendous difference between the two, and the latter is why people stuck in the cycle of politics as usual can't understand Obama's momentum. They want to have the same old arguments and the same old battle lines because that is the only way they know how to operate; their power and celebrity come from lining up along those same shopworn battle lines every time an issue erupts. The Youngs and the Clintons and Bushes and the Giulianis and the Jesse Jacksons need the playing field to remain the same because their power is derived from keeping it that way. Hence their vested interest in telling us he can't win and it's not his time and not his turn. But as the Senator said today in South Carolina, "When folks tell me I can't do something, that's when I like to do it. That's when I like to show 'em wrong...Don't tell me I can't do something...'Cause we're doing it!"
Click on www.barackobama.com/ to see the videos of today's speech. He's still honing his stump speech, and you can see him take fire about twelve minutes in. The funniest part being where he says, "The name George W. Bush will not be on the ballot," he said, a remark that brought the crowd to its feet for several minutes. "The name of my cousin Dick Cheney won't be on the ballot," Obama added, a reference to their more than 300-year-old, distant family connection. "That was some embarrassing stuff when that came out." And when he says he's "releasing all my kindergarten papers tomorrow" in response to the Clinton campaign's "revelation" that he wrote something called "I want to be president" in kindergarten to show he was lying about not running for POTUS to realize some long-held dream.
Watch the video all the way to the end when he and the crowd are chanting "Fire It Up!" "Ready to Go!" And tell your friends who might be wondering yea or nay: This IS his time. This is OUR time. America needs Obama.
Quickie Bio on Obama: