Is Barack Obama Promising to Hide Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton?

Pacifica Radio’s "Democracy Now" program hit Barack Obama from the left on Wednesday after he lost in New Hampshire, so far from the left that Professor Michael Eric Dyson, a leftist favored by NBC anchor Brian Williams, was almost the conservative in a debate with Glen Ford of Black Agenda Report. Ford thought Obama was "relentlessly sending out signals to white people that a vote for Barack Obama, an Obama presidency, would signal the beginning of the end of black-specific agitation, that it would take race discourse off of the table." An end to racial agitation like Jesse Jackson’s and Al Sharpton’s? Has Obama specifically promised that anywhere? But "Democracy Now" host Amy Goodman added her two pennies to that, airing an interview segment where Jesse Jackson confirmed that Obama wants "distance" for "strategic purposes," and will not campaign with Jackson:

AMY GOODMAN: So you would go out on the campaign trail for Barack Obama if he asked you to? REV. JESSE JACKSON: Well, I would have to discuss that with him. He has not asked me to. That’s not an issue for me, frankly. My issue right now is— AMY GOODMAN: Has he asked you not to? REV. JESSE JACKSON: No. And I tell you that I respect the distance he is trying to create for his own strategic purposes, and I accept that. AMY GOODMAN: What is that? Why is that? REV. JESSE JACKSON: I don’t know.

Dyson responded by laying down his Hosannas for Jesse:

Well, Jesse Jackson is one of the greatest freedom fighters in the history of this country, certainly in the twentieth century, and he is an ally and an asset to any campaign. I think when he talked about the strategic distance, that’s an acknowledgement and a nod to the kind of burden that Jesse Jackson may carry among the white population of people who potentially could vote for him, the same way that Hillary Clinton has to be very careful in terms of how she uses Bill Clinton, whether use him as a person to leverage her authority or as a wedge between her and that vote. So that’s a calculation that has to be dealt with. I think that Jesse Jackson is an incredible asset, a brilliant politician. Without him, Barack Obama wouldn’t exist. At the same time, I think his disappointment, perhaps, in his acknowledgement of that painful lag is a realpolitik of race in American culture.

Ford lamented that Obama is winning by pandering to whites, assuaging the white man’s burden of racial guilt:

Barack Obama does not carry our burden, in addition to other burdens. He in fact promises to lift white-people-as-a-whole’s burden, the burden of having to listen to these very specific and historical black complaints, to deal with the legacies of slavery. That is his promise to them. That is what allowed him to amass huge, huge numbers of white votes. And he will amass larger and larger percentages of black votes now that black folks see that white folks will vote for Barack Obama. Finally, there’s somebody who has a chance. But he can only do this—he has only pulled this off by these continual assurances to white people that race will be off the table. At least, that is the way it is received. It’s received by masses of white people. It’s even received in that way by hard-right ideologues like Bill Bennett and George F. Will, who seems to be fascinated by Barack Obama.

Ford also said Obama was a militarist helping out "right wing interests" by advocating for 100,000 new soldiers and Marines. (Actually, Obama supported 65,000 new soldiers and 27,000 new Marines in a speech in April 2007).

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis