The front page of The Washington Post carried a story Tuesday on black liberals demanding all blacks stand with President Obama -- just because he's black. Krissah Thompson's story carried some noteworthy "get in line" quotes from the forget-the-black-unemployment-numbers crowd, but the closest thing to a moderate or conservative in the article is a man suggesting Obama is not God.
On the front page, Thompson quoted from radio host Tom Joyner on his BlackAmericaWeb.com blog. “Let’s not even deal with the facts right now. Let’s deal with just our blackness and pride — and loyalty. We have the chance to re-elect the first African-American president, and that’s what we ought to be doing. And I’m not afraid or ashamed to say that as black people, we should do it because he’s a black man.”
Can anyone imagine a white radio host saying "Let's not even deal with the facts. We should vote for the white guy, because he's white?" How would The Washington Post not see that as racist? Thompson noted that recent polls suggest Obama's "strongly support" numbers are falling. Al Sharpton also insisted blacks get in line:
The Rev. Al Sharpton, an ally of President Obama who has a daily radio show and hosts a nightly cable television program, recently told the president’s black critics, “I’m not telling you to shut up. I’m telling you: Don’t make some of us have to speak up.”
What's the difference? Near the article's end, Thompson added:
Sharpton said he learned an important lesson about supporting black politicians in the early 1990s, when David Dinkins, who was New York’s first black mayor, was running for reelection. Sharpton criticized Dinkins’s “deliberative” style and thought his policies were not progressive enough. Dinkins was hurt by the diminished enthusiasm and turnout among black voters.
“We beat up on him. He went down and we ended up with eight years of Rudy Giuliani,” said Sharpton, who has been among Obama’s most aggressive supporters. “I said I’ll never make that mistake again.”
Sharpton is described as one of "Obama's most aggressive supporters." That's probably what qualified him most to be a nightly MSNBC host.
Thompson's article also included this Obama quote about faith, quite a shock from the Sundays-on-the-golf-course president:
The White House has turned to black radio often in recent weeks, building on the relationships Obama established during his 2008 primary campaign. In a video greeting to thousands at an Atlanta event this month sponsored by a gospel radio host, the president spoke about blacks supporting one another.
“It is in times like these that we need our faith more than ever,” Obama said. “Because we’ve been through hard times before. . . . We have moved forward one step at a time with the knowledge that I am my brother’s keeper. I am my sister’s keeper.”
Professor Eddie Glaude resented the Joyners of the world trying to curtail the "vibrant" discussion of Obama's record, but most of the voices in the story were pro-Obama. Here's the exception, and then the norm followed:
Jack Jackson, who works for the city’s water treatment plant, said he is tired of the appeals to black identity politics.
“Leave the race game alone,” said Jackson, 53, who said he supports Obama. “Let’s not keep holding on to that. It’s been done. . . . We should put our faith in God, not Obama.”
But Corry McGriff, 42, said the call to stick together resonates with him, and McGriff has begun telling his friends that they have a responsibility to support the president, too. “We need to keep him in there. By him becoming president, he is showing African Americans that it can be done,” said McGriff, who works for a federal defense contractor. “He helped the race. ”
Kychelle Green, 18, a nursing student at Norfolk State University, agreed. “You know it’s not really his fault that things aren’t changing,” she said. “He’s really trying but he can’t change every rule on his own. Now people are trying to criticize him because he is African American.”
Green said she listens every morning to Steve Harvey, who is among the radio hosts who are promoting the message that Obama deserves support.
Warren Ballentine, a black talk radio host based in North Carolina who has interviewed Obama about a dozen times, speaks about the president’s accessibility. “It’s not like he is not hearing black America,” he said.
Ballentine specifically reminds his listeners of the racial undertones he saw in the 2008 campaign. “It’s almost like we’ve forgotten what this man had to go through to get into the office. We need to remember the hatred and vitriol that came out.”
Thompson found the White House didn't want to suggest they were pushing the get-in-line crowd:
The calls for racial solidarity have not come from the White House, and Obama has been careful to speak in broad terms, even when talking about how his policies have helped African Americans. At the same time, his campaign has welcomed the support of black media figures. Those “validators” make clear that they back the president’s policies, and a White House aide noted that their support is deeper than the color of Obama’s skin. “You don’t see them supporting Herman Cain or Alan Keyes,” the aide said.
That's what Sharpton's show could be called. "The Obama Validators."