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October 09, 2008

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Digressing to another political YouTube, check out Republican Minnesota Senator Norm Coleman's press spokesman. (Cross fingers for Senator Al Franken.)

Outkast! (I finally got one.)

Outkast! (I finally got one.)

A lesson in perseverance.

Cooly exploiting racial and ethnic fears which you, the exploiter, don't necessarily share, is ethically worse than sincerely having those fears to exploit. I can't hate the people in the video Eric links to, but I have no problem hating politicians like Palin and McCain. Like selling your vote for $6k in exchange for a $6 million tax break or contract, racial/ethnic baiting is the essence of corruption - not just a bad 'deal', but no deal at all. Sometimes I think we have forgotten why corruption is a bad thing, which is perhaps understandable after having watched the Bush Executive Branch operate for 8 years. Corruption's not bad not because it's inefficient, but because it's *anti-efficient*; it leads to entropy. It's a form of collective neurosis, even.

Eric Martin,
thanks so much for publishing that clip. It brought me to tears. I've disliked brazile for a long time for a lot of reasons but she preached it, baby, like it needed to be said. And on this day when the mccain campaign goes nuts, and the video of the mccain/palin followers went up with the hopped up middle class white trash saying "he's a terrorist...he's got the bloodlines" Donna's words were a cup of hot tea with a shot of whiskey on a rainy, stormy, day.

aimai

To be honest, I don't really understand what Brazile is trying to say there. I saw a lot of passion of course but what are we meant to take away from it.

I watched it a few times and her anecdote about the bus is mostly confusing to me. As a black person, I can fully get behind the idea that we are no longer interested in either metaphorically or literally going to the back of the bus but I guess I just don't understand the context. Who is she arguing with? In what specific sense is she making the case that this election tied to that issue? I found it interesting I guess. Just not very informative.

I think her points were manifold.

First and foremost, she was beseeching her fellow Americans to base their decision in this election on qualifications, rather than race.

Along these lines, the anecdotes were meant to do a few things at least. On the one hand, they were a means to acknowledge how far we, as a nation, have come. On the other hand, they were to show people how deeply painful it is to be discriminated against and denied opportunity and dignity based on gender or skin color. A reminder of wrongs past and, to some extent, present.

Thus, tying it back to the election, she is letting the audience know how and why it is that she doesn't want to feel that any more. She wants to believe that Americans are past that, and will no longer view her as inferior for being black. Or dumb for being a woman.

She wants Obama to get a fair shake, and the very prospect of that occuring, or not, is emotional and cathartic for her. By sharing that rawness and vulnerability, she offered an empathetic opening to the viewer.

At least, that's what I got.

I think its a mistake to hold a speaker at some kind of roundtable discussion to the same standards that we'd hold them to when they are making a presentation or giving a speech. I don't know what she was responding to but its clear that we would have to know the context of the previous speakers and even of the whole event to know how her talk fits in.

For me it was a really complex and nested series of thoughts about race, history, progress, and politics in which her shock that Obama--who never sat in the living rooms she sat in/wasn't raised african american--might at one and the same time win or lose because of his perceived "blackness." I don't think her speech would have been at all the same if the black candidate who was so close to winning the presidency had been Jesse Jackson or someone like that. She's tremendously moved by, and proud of, Obama's accomplishment and also liberated by it from some of her own fears, anxieties, griefs and rages. But at the same time, on some level, she's just stunned by it because he doesn't come from where she comes from. Yet he has stepped forward as a standard bearer and, even more, as a possible victor.

I guess what I'm saying is that I took the slight incoherence or rambling quality of her anecdotes as a natural outgrowth of the fact that Obama himself crosses lots of imaginary social, racial, and political lines for people and so people's reactions to him can be both extremely strong and extremely mixed.

aimai

Thats all fair enough Eric. I guess for me the points get lost in all the personal anecdotes and wanderings. The story about her decision on the bus for instance doesn't seem to me to be a story about the pain of discrimination so much as it is a story about personal defiance and her own refusal to go backward. That's all well and good but I just have trouble tracing that back to a key point about this election.

Your summary helps though. I'll watch it again. Thanks.

I guess what I'm saying is that I took the slight incoherence or rambling quality of her anecdotes as a natural outgrowth of the fact that Obama himself crosses lots of imaginary social, racial, and political lines for people and so people's reactions to him can be both extremely strong and extremely mixed.

That's a pretty fair point as well aimai. I think perhaps knowing the context of her statement, as you stated, would also help.

I agree to some extent brent. You clearly have a valid point. But aimai has a point, too, that in some ways Brazile was kind of free form associating about a bunch of interspersed issues.

To add:

The story about her decision on the bus for instance doesn't seem to me to be a story about the pain of discrimination so much as it is a story about personal defiance and her own refusal to go backward.

The emphasis is exactly as you say, but the underlying truth reveals both. After all, she is saying that even after de jure segregation was ended, many blacks (her mother included) still felt the need to go to the back of the bus and not make eye contact.

That's instructive on the legacy of segregation and slavery. How potent they were. How deep the scars. Even after the date in the book that the legal regime changes, the effects reverberate through many generations.

That ties in to the Obama story today, and the residual racism that impedes him.

(brent: didn't see you acknowledging aimai. apologize for the redundancy)

I mentioned this at TiO as well, that Brazile always struck me as being too buttoned down, something that I took to be the influence of being Al Gore's cmpaign manager, so it was great to see her cut loose.

Might I also recommend this video that has been noted by various people of AFL-CIO's Richard Trumka.

Speaking for myself, I think it really underlines the nature of Obama's candidacy and the way political society has declined that I find myself so hungry for people who are going to pin their hearts on their sleeves and make these kinds of speeches. I have that liberal worry that these heartfelt emotions might lead to ignoring reason in discussing politics, but it seems like the passion that drives a demand for social change has been lacking in the public discourse.

Have to post and run but I wanted to come back and apologize for my hit and run negative comments on brazile and explain why I responded to this video so positively. The last time I remember thinking about Brazile was when her book came out and she was on every news channel talking the kind of "process talk" that Kos and I both hate so much--lectures about what dems should do, and discussions about how she had friends on both sides of the aisle and how the dems should be less aggressive or some such claptrap. I don't really want to see any political figure on the dem side, ever, on TV without a plan and a propaganda point to get across and brazile has been marketing herself (to my eyes) as one of those freelance commenters, good sound bites, no harm no foul political hatchet types a la carville for a while.

In this clip she finally takes the gloves off and admits that *this election matters*--it matters, it matters, it matters and is not, ultimately, to be reduced to a sound bite or a horse race or a gentlemanly "hey, great point john mccain about how obama's a terrorist! that should move your poll numbers!"

I was not an obama supporter in the primary--I wanted edwards, or at any rate I wanted someone truly progressive and pissed off. But whatever, I'm a firm backer of the dems and of obama now and I'm pleased to see lots of commentary, even main stream media commentary, moving away from the studied neutrality of the broders and the bystanders and into the realm of hard reality. This election matters--it will always matter and it has already mattered--in terms of race, history, politics in this country. And none of us can be bystanders any more.
aimai

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