White Boys and Barack Obama

Do They Hear Something Blacks Don't?

Tuesday’s Democratic primaries saw Barack Obama racking up over 60 percent of the white male vote in Wisconsin, riding an unprecedented historical demographic anomaly that will likely send him to the White House – barring a third consecutive general election theft by the Republicans. It appears Hillary Clinton’s goose is cooked.

Once whites demonstrated their willingness to vote for a “certain type” of Black man, in Iowa back in January, it was a foregone conclusion that African Americans would line up in overwhelming numbers behind the Illinois Senator. Before then, all that had held back the tides of Black mass commitment to Obama’s candidacy were lingering doubts that whites would support any “type” of Black person’s elevation to the nation’s highest office. When that dam broke, the African American celebration began. After 400 years in slave hell and Jim Crow purgatory, we’ve finally got a chance! Or so the crowd believes.

Obama wasn’t taking any chances. His strategy from the very beginning has been to flip the historical script by appealing directly to the most backward demographic in electoral politics: white males. This “white male strategy” – smelling eerily of a previous Republican “southern strategy” – required constant assurances to white men that Obama’s run would signal the end of race as a point of political contention in the United States. No longer would whites, especially males, be compelled to answer for their privileged status. A 40-plus year annoyance was nearly over, since Blacks had “already come 90 percent of the way” to equality. Obama told them so.

Reagan-loving whites – especially the white men who have always led the “backlash” against real and perceived African American gains – found themselves wooed by a Black man who understood their sense of revulsion at “the excesses of the Sixties and Seventies.” Wow! That’s the kind of change we’ve been waiting for, exclaimed increasing numbers of white males. A new day beckoned, free at last of psychological harassment from the likes of Reverends Jesse and Al.

Obama is a world-class wooer. His white male wooing is made much easier by the fact that those who consider themselves his “sisters” and “brothers” demand nothing whatsoever from him. Just come home when you get ready, brother. Obama is free to concentrate his attentions on the hard-to-get demographics, especially white men with their peculiar notions of “change.” No need for Obama to promise the hood a damn thing, except that he’ll cut a dashing figure in the Oval Office and make the homefolks proud that he’s there, symbolically representing them.

Republicans and GOP-leaning “independents” (meaning, deep-dyed whites) are crossing over in herds to vote for Obama. They’ve gotten the message: happy days are here again, when the darkies smiled and were careful not to hurt our feelings by telling the truth. That’s the kind of “change” we’ve always “hoped” for, by golly!

The white liberal/left, ineffectual and geographically scattered, are drawn irresistibly to the Black man who regales them with sweet nothings – literally, nothing in the way of the concrete policies for peace and social justice they claim to champion. His presence in their midst is enough. Besides, Obama is someone who is “capable of forging a progressive majority,” they say.

That’s a strange concept, since Obama doesn’t act like a progressive, or claim to be one. But he has no problem with folks gathering around him. He’s a real party guy.

The no-nonsense white men that rule society and cling to ownership of the world were harder nuts to crack; you’ve got to sign a prenuptial to get skin-tight with them. No problem. Before Obama even began to strut on the national runway, he’d won the approval of the Wall Street and military/industrial (and nuclear power) branches of the Money Family. Run-of-the-mill citizens will be barred from state court relief, so as not to jam up big corporations with their silly lawsuits. Energy companies can count on their usual subsidies. The “sanctity of contracts” will not be violated to save homeowners from foreclosure, no matter how deep the credit crisis becomes. The voracious military will be fed an additional 92,000 soldiers and Marines, regardless of what happens in Iraq, to be available for more wars. Most importantly – and this is the really smooth part of Obama’s game – the ever-increasing military budget will make moot all of Barack’s and Hillary’s (near identical) promises about health care, affordable housing, the whole public agenda that has been dangled in front of those fans and groupies in the cheap seats.

Once he gets in office, many of the swooners will find out that he’s already married to the Power Mob.

But that’s OK. Obama knows his most enthusiastic supporters – the ones that claim him as their own as a matter of blood – will stick by him without complaint. Hell, their “leaders” show every sign of allowing him to wine and dine and make promises to everybody else BUT them, at least until he is comfortably in office – maybe for the entirety of his first term. For the time being, though, Black folks aren’t even hearing what he’s saying to the white men or anybody else – they’re just enjoying the music: “It’s been a long, a long time coming, but I know, a change gonna come.”

Oh no it ain’t.

Glen Ford is Executive Editor of Black Agenda Report, where this article first appeared. He can be contacted at: Glen.Ford@BlackAgendaReport.com. Read other articles by Glen, or visit Glen's website.

31 comments on this article so far ...

Comments RSS feed

  1. Mark Wilson/Philadelphia said on February 21st, 2008 at 6:43am #

    This is one of the most delusional articles ever written on dissident voice. Obama is not promising anything to anybody. If the White Male as a byproduct of his potential Presidency gets a release from their transgressions of the past so be it. If the Blacks acheive the ability to tell their children that “with the right message and demeanor” you CAN become President or anything else you want to be, so be it.
    You fail to mention that Hillary had historically high negatives prior to this campaign. Could it be, Glen, that she simply couldn’t overcome that? Could it be that the massses are simply tired of poll tested rhetoric, that Hillary simply can not inspire? That Barrack has the right message for the right time. Could it be that the masses are simply tired of extreme partsianship? If you want to argue “is he capable of bringing ppl together”, fine. If you want to ask; remember Bush was supposed to be a uniter not a divider, as we know he lied. Why, should we assume Obama is not doing the same., I will listen to every word. For you to imply that he has not run a good campaign or that this movement is simply a ploy by the White Male to achieve that “guiltless feeling” you have lost me and are no better than B. Clinton. Who claimed what we saw in S.C. was jsut J. Jackson 2007….
    Glen, it sounds rather foolish and not worthy of print.
    Yes we can!

  2. Myles Hoenig said on February 21st, 2008 at 6:44am #

    As Ed Boyd, an African-American who ran for governor of Maryland as a Green said of Obama, “He’s Lieberman with a tan.”

  3. Max Shields said on February 21st, 2008 at 7:02am #

    Glen, I read your piece on BAR. BAR is a wonderful reprieve from the hype.

    I think you point is well taken. Not just white men, but the particular sort of white men (and sometimes women) who seem to be, if not embracing saying some pretty positive things about Obama.

    But I think you miss a very important point. It’s not just the embacing Obama, as some would have us believe,but who they’re dissing that’s as important – perhaps more so.

    Hillary Clinton is the other side to this equation. Hillary thought she needed to move to the right a couple of years ago. The Clinton gamesmanship is that the left will stay – no choice – and you could triangulate the center and right of center into a faux coalition. It worked for Bill, why not Hill?

    But Bill’s a boy and Hill’s a girl. Now here’s Obama, the everything to everyone guy, the Bill with out the babe’s on the side. A conservative African American – you heard me, Obama may have some progressive rhetoric, but he fits nicely into the right wing model of the ok non-Jesse Jackson African American. And what is more, Obama is a male. I mean he plays basketball.

    A discussion on Obama is never complete without mentioning Obama’s telling remarks, whether about Cuba as others have noted elsewhere, or free trade, or his willingness to invade Pakistan and fervent support for Israel. With all the George Lakeoffisms nicely framed, we still get a glimpse of the neoliberal beneath the veneer that is Obama.

    I cannot remember the last time the media was this completely one sided. The hate for the Clintons runs deep and shouldn’t be discounted when sizing up the phenomenon know as BARACK OBAMA.

    He may become president. He may turn out ok – as these rulers of empire go – or a bloody disaster – ala the current fool. Time will tell.

    Thanks Glen for keeping this real.

  4. Tom Joad said on February 21st, 2008 at 8:19am #

    He’s doing what he has to to get elected. I say good for him. He’ll make a great President.

  5. Max Shields said on February 21st, 2008 at 8:39am #

    Future greatness, on the basis of doing whatever it takes?

  6. hp said on February 21st, 2008 at 10:53am #

    White boys and especially black boys run on purely Pavlovian cues.
    This society of cheaters and the cheated know not what they do, or don’t do.

  7. out of the loop said on February 21st, 2008 at 1:07pm #

    What’s the option to voting for Obama? Hillary and McCain are beyond the pale. The only alternative is not to vote or to vote for Cynthia McKinney if she is the Green’s candidate. There are two advantages to such a vote. 1. She’s right on most issues. 2. One can tell women that one has voted for a woman for President, thus blunting the notion that one didn’t vote for Hillary only because she is a woman.

  8. Bill said on February 21st, 2008 at 2:55pm #

    DAMN….And I thought I was cynical………..

    Maybe you’d like G.W.Dumbass to suspend the constitution, have another “911” type drama and crown himself king until the “emergency” is over?

  9. Tom Joad said on February 21st, 2008 at 3:09pm #

    Max Shields said on February 21st, 2008 at 8:39 am #
    Future greatness, on the basis of doing whatever it takes?

    What would you have him do? Tell it like it is in plain language like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich? Look where they are.

  10. Michael Kenny said on February 21st, 2008 at 3:11pm #

    My take on Obama is that he’s angling for the Vice-Presidency. A Black probably couldn’t be elected President in 2008, but 2016 is another story and Obama will still only be 55 that year. He needs all those delegates to force Hillary’s hand, since I doubt if she would pick him voluntarily.

    Think about it! In the dream scenario, he becomes VP in 2008, re-elected in 2012, President in 2016 and 2020 and retires from the White House at age 63. Worst case scenario: Hillary loses to the Ancient Mariner in 2008 but Obama, with a seat in the Senate until 2010 at least, is in a good position to be the nominee in 2012.

    So naturally, he makes all the “Hillary/Israel Lobby” noises!

  11. Bill said on February 21st, 2008 at 4:13pm #

    Yeah and in 2016 there will be SOMEBODY to say, “well I don’t think America is ready for a black president just yet……..how aout 2050?”

    C’MON PEOPLE, you’ve had 143 years to get used to the idea of equality…at this point it’s just foot dragging and wanting to maintain the status quo.

    This country is dying because of 2 social ills that are virtual kissing cousins to each other. Greed and Racism……some whites walk around and pretend it isn’t quite a problem because they have removed themselves from the human family. They are segregated in religion and social status and forgot the rest of us.

    The problem never went away.

    We need as much diversity in places of power a.s.a.p.

    Enough b.s.

  12. Max Shields said on February 21st, 2008 at 4:18pm #

    Tom Joad “What would you have him do? Tell it like it is in plain language like Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich? Look where they are.”

    So, saying we should invade Pakistan, you think is a good idea?

    You see Obama’s telling you all exactly how he thinks “it is”. His telegraphing it for you plain as day. But you aint listening. You only hear HOPE and simpleton frames (I’m not implying you are a simpleton, btw). That’s just how Bill Clinton got elected. Liberals thought, he’s just doing what he needs to do to get elected then we’ll have “our day”. Didn’t happen. In fact, when he said he was for the death penalty he really meant it and installed 3 strikes your out – and look at the incarceration stats today. Free trade? You bet and then some. He got the NAFTA deal Reagan could only dream of.

    No, Obama’s policies will be interventionists and corporate-driven. This empire will be in good hands with Obama – that is if you like empire. I don’t know whether minorities will benefit. There really isn’t much of coorelation between race/ethnicity and social/economic justice.

    He’s a Dem and committed neoliberal, a protege of Joe Lieberman. See what you want. But so far there’s little to support your “faith”.

  13. E. Bills said on February 21st, 2008 at 4:22pm #

    more irrelevant BAR talk. as a publication, they refuse to be really critical of the HipHop movement–but then they have no qualms about belittling Barack Obama. If he changed his name to Be-Rock, went street (using terms like “babymama,” hoe,” etc) and became quasi-literate, BAR wouldn’t criticize him at all. Their principles are hollow and their logic is inane.

    At the very least, I’d say Obama deserves the benefit of the doubt. Tell us Mr. Ford, et al, why can’t BAR give him that? If hip-hoppers get a pass, why can’t somebody who might actually do some good. It really smacks of the contemporary refrain about African-Americans in this country. . . They have no real leaders.

    Now they have one and he’s playing with the big boys, crossing color lines, socioeconomic lines, party lines, etc., etc., doing things no one has seen in decades–

    I’d say BAR is out of touch with real black agendas.


  14. Max Shields said on February 21st, 2008 at 5:28pm #

    Hip-hop???? What the hell does that have to do with being the President of the USA? Are you guys smoking something? Or is this code?

  15. D.R. Munro said on February 21st, 2008 at 5:55pm #

    Go back to sleep America. . .

    Your government is in control.

  16. Frank Bubo said on February 21st, 2008 at 6:24pm #

    Last time I checked, Barack Obama was a mulatto. His is just as much white as he is black. To look at him in media views, I would guess that he dances more like a white man than a black man. He doesn’t seem to have any soul or any funk, though when he wants to put on the “black preacher” persona, he can do the end of sentence inflections that make him seem a little bit like a cross between Martin Luther King and Jimmy Swaggart.

    Obama is loved by white folk because he is perceived as totally non-threatening. He is skinny like J.J. of “What’s Happening?” He is a schmoozer like Will Smith. He fits in with the cops more than with the Crips. He would be far more at home with Martha Stewart than with Angela Davis.

    The change proposed by Obama is more superficial than substantial. He talks the talk, but there is reason to believe he walks the walk. I don’t recall him ever getting arrested for protesting at the gates of the School of the Americas. He wants to bomb Pakistan. He opposes the war in Iraq, but not American imperialism. He has not spoken of reparations to Iraqis or to American blacks for their ill-treatment.

    Barack Obama is like Michael J. Fox in blackface. I doubt he ever shared a word with Harry Belafonte. He is a product of “the system”. He is a Harvard Man, not a product of Georgetown. If he showed up in the inner city, he would probably get his ass kicked, robbed, and maybe raped, cause he is “pretty”.

    Barack wants change, as in “change the channel”, not change the media.
    He is an administrator, not a revolutionary. Unfortunately, even if elected, he would be coming in at the end of empire and the pending unraveling of the national and international monetary, ecological, economic, and social systems and infrastructure will leave him as helpless and worthless as the second appendix on a set of Siamese twins.

    F. Bubo

  17. Max Shields said on February 21st, 2008 at 7:36pm #

    The bottom line – after listening to Obama and Hillary – ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE (other than color and gender). ABSOLUTELY NO DIFFERENCE.

    With Kucinich and Edwards out of the race no straight talk AT ALL.

    Listen – Glen has the pulse on this.

  18. Hue Longer said on February 21st, 2008 at 11:05pm #


    The aspect of the “Hip Hop Movement” I assume you think Glen should take on receives its prevalence and relevance thanks to a bunch of white men. Why don’t you then take it on?

  19. Marcelle Cendrars said on February 21st, 2008 at 11:57pm #

    Obama is no more Black than Clinton is Woman. They are both White Males…as per what the historical record shows is required to inhabit the White House. It is shameful that so many “dissident voices” join in such “debates” like what you have here.

    Nothing has been learned. For anyone to be harboring notions that “once in office” this or that will be significantly different is…beyond words. The fact that not only have major names on The Left embraced Obama…and major alternative outlets posted their cheerleading…is heartbreaking.

    The “No Difference” cry is an excellent point of departure…for ending such “discussions” as this.

  20. semi-detached said on February 22nd, 2008 at 12:19pm #

    Existential propositions. Although one could argue that for any part, anyone who believes Obama’s verbal coinage should constitute change is easily lead like lemmings to water. Of course you could speak your record and show the meaning of truth, as only one candidate has done, and have all of the modern establishment against you. Thereby inciting a revolution, and bringing to light the elite’s mockery of freedom, or sit idly by and allow the brainwashing to continue for you and your family. I prefer the former- “government has nothing to give someone that it has not taken from someone else.”- Henry Hazlit

  21. dan e said on February 22nd, 2008 at 4:25pm #

    “Tom Joad”?

    tomjoad.org is the URL of a webpage maintained by Jim Harris of Berkeley, NorCal ISM & other organizations. Also his email domain name, as in “gro.daojmotnull@yesac”.

    So I’m wondering: is this the real Jim Harris doing a lil trolling on the side? Seems unlikely, far as I know he stays pretty busy. Or is this somebody who saw the same movie & also likes the character enough to adopt it as his identity?

    Or is this possibly the same miscreant who caused all the confusion by appropriating one of Jim H’s email addresses to post some destructive bs on Indybay?

    I’m not jumping to any conclusions, but I would like to know that the “comments” above come from a real person & not from some provocateur phony.

    If the poster is indeed Jim Harris, I apologize again for all the confusion. Btw, there are several other Jim Harrises in my Address Book, one being the popular multi-style multi-instrumentalist/vocalist based here in Sac, who I’ll have on the stand with me at my next paying gig. If I ever get another paying gig:)

    Pray for me,

    Dan E

  22. dan e said on February 22nd, 2008 at 4:57pm #

    After rereading “Tomjoad”s comments I realize the poster could not possibly be Jim Harris, who may/may not be the charpest cuchillo in the dror but is not capable of the kind of idiot-drool posted above.

    Kim, I suggest you make this person choose another handle, since “tomjoad” is so closely identified with Jim Harris?


  23. John Hatch said on February 22nd, 2008 at 7:02pm #

    How’s this for cynical? Whatever his merits, Mr. Obama will not become President, because Bush/Cheney have no intention of leaving office even if there’s a 1% chance of their being held accountable for their vile crimes.

    Therefore they’ll need a ‘New Pearl Harbor Event’ in order to suspend whatever shreds of the Constitution are left, to declare martial law and start filling those brand new Halliburton concentration camps.

    Eliminating Mr. Obama with the help of a Muslim patsy would serve the purpose. Mission accomplished without having to kill another 3000 people.

    Mr. Obama was left unprotected by Dallas police in what they said was a ‘mistake’. Watch for another mistake, but not for awhile.

  24. Mark Slaugh said on February 23rd, 2008 at 6:34am #

    The difference between Clinton & Obama? Obama can win. The right has found itself on the receiving end of “shock and awe”. They were all loaded for Hillary, and the Senator from Illinois has left their collective heads spinning.

    John Hatch – I hope and pray, for the sake of our country and world that you are wrong…but I’ve lived to to long and seen to much, to scoff at your cynicism.

  25. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 23rd, 2008 at 7:26am #

    Btw Marcelle’s and John Hatch’s, falls the shadow.

    Something must be done, but the doing lets loose even bigger dogs.

    So who you gonna call?


  26. Shabnam said on February 23rd, 2008 at 10:01am #

    The Zionist plan is to let McCain into the white house. To do so, New York Times have already invited the Neocon, William Kristol, to join David Brooks and others to implement this plan through campaign of lies and deceptions. NYT supports McCain for Republicans and Obama for Democrats. The real candidate is the warmonger McCain. They think Obama against McCain, as African American has a better chance to beat Obama. I’m sure there is going to be a TERRPROST plan ready to be exploded in the end of the summer by the imperialist/Zionist forces in the US or somewhere else in their colonies to take ignorant and arrogant Americans hostage AGAIN to finalize their plan and fix the election rhetoric on “TERRORISM” of their own act and frighten the ignorant population. They did the same in Spain few years ago but had a reverse effect. That was, however, a different population.
    Since no one can be elected president without the “Jewish lobby” green light, therefore, Obama has gone extra miles to get AIPAC approval. None of the Obama support statements for Israel has convinced Zionists that he is their man, that he too, just like Senator Clinton, who has repeatedly said: “Israeli values are American values,” when Israel was bombing Lebanon and killing more than a thousand Lebanese civilians including children.
    Zionists have published an essay, “Barack Obama and Israel” in “American Thinker” and have dismissed Obama as a man for Israel. In this essay Lasky accused Obama of concealing his affiliation with a church that is in fact “Afro-centric” in its Christianity, accusing Reverend Jeremiah Wright, Jr., the Pastor of the Church as a man with a militant past and that’s why Obama has distance himself publicly from Wright. He has done everything to satisfy the main actors of American election, the Jewish Lobby, yet they prefer the warmonger McCain.
    New York Times purposely published the story behind the “romantic relationship with that woman” after they were confident that McCain is the republicans nominee for 2008. NYT had this information for a long time but they have decided to reveal it at this time since benefits their candidate. There is going to be “talking” around this issue, therefore, they sell more newspapers and then the news will die out soon enough to be prepared for the main show. Therefore, no one can use this piece of information later around the election week, in the November, anymore. As professor Dabashi, has written:

    “IT IS OF COURSE ultimately unfair to laser-beam on Senator Obama a calamity that has long plagued American political culture. Over the last half a century, American foreign policy is held hostage (as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Walt have extensively demonstrated) to a single-minded commitment to the Jewish apartheid state, which has in turn degenerated its own political culture to that of Christian imperialism. The US is narratively trapped inside a single-minded commitment to the Jewish state, which now amounts to the worst common denominator of American political culture, and as such it will pull down any sign of hope that may aspire to transform this catastrophe to become the promise that it has always been — a beacon of hope for the world.”
    People must be careful and expose the Zionist/imperialist camp especially those “left” who is directed by the hidden Zionists in the US and elsewhere.

  27. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 23rd, 2008 at 10:16am #

    I don’t know about “careful” as a watchword (anyway), Shabnam. Maybe it was just a relic of the sixties, but I was the men’s-room-walls poet who kept posting “Expose Thyself” in the SF Bay Area.

  28. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 23rd, 2008 at 10:18am #

    C’mon, Glen!! Have that second cup of Java and GET YOUR HINNIE IN HERE!!!

  29. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 23rd, 2008 at 11:32am #

    OKAY!! Heinie.

    D’ya know? I’m beginning to perceive a disconnect btw the person I’ve spoken to on the phone and the person who puts up articles at Dissident Voice.

    No shit, Glen?

  30. Lloyd Rowsey said on February 23rd, 2008 at 11:44am #

    It’s not over, Tom Joad. It’s not over.

  31. Nick said on November 18th, 2008 at 8:37am #

    Here lies the Eagle, almost gone, nothing left but skin and bone.