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Armstrong Williams Could Take Barack Obama, But He’d Prefer Cash

All this week, and all the next, The Black Snob is taking a look at the views of black conservatives on Barack Obama. We’re examining who likes him, who doesn’t. Who will vote for him and who won’t. So far we’ve looked at the views of Amy Holmes, Condoleezza Rice, Ward Connerly, Shelby Steele, Alan Keyes, JC Watts and Colin Powell.

Conservative columnist and public relations rep Armstrong Williams has always been bit of an odd duck to me. There is something comical about the way he has bounced through life occasionally offending people along the way.

He’s a nervous, nerdy man with an ever expanding Cheshire grin. Once a regular guest on TV talk show host Montel Williams’s show in the mid-1990s, I can remember lazy summers watching television and seeing the perpetually single Williams go on Montel’s show to be prodded for his lack of girlfriend.

Williams is a third-generation Republican, child of nine. He has hosted TV and radio shows and once had a syndicated column through Tribune Media Services. It abruptly ended in 2005 when a Freedom of Information Act request revealed the Bush Administration paid Williams to talk up the controversial education reform legislation, No Child Left Behind.

In a tone-deaf sort of way, Williams was paid $241,000 to pitch No Child Left Behind to the black community. Most African Americans are down right hostile to Williams’ right to exist, let alone his right to subject them to his opinion on anything. Like a lot of black conservatives he is a regular punching bag, even straw man at times. He was widely despised given his affiliation with much maligned Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas.

The fact that Williams agreed with the premise of No Child Left Behind (a law he favored and would have likely flacked for free) rendered the whole debacle even more comical.

Nation magazine writer David Corn recounted a meeting in a studio Green room with Williams and conservative pundit Linda Chavez shortly after the controversy broke. Chavez and Corn had spoke earlier about Williams’ actions possibly smearing the reputations of all TV conservative quarterbacks. She was immediately inundated with calls if she was bought and paid for after Williams’ outing.

He was quick with his main talking point: “It was bad judgment, Dave. Bad judgment.” … I was reminded that in addition to being a pundit, Williams … is a PR specialist with his own firm. Not too long ago, Michael Jackson called him for advice. Now he had himself for a client, and, heeding conventional crisis-management strategy, he was practicing strict message discipline: bad judgment, bad judgment, bad judgment.

As we chatted, Chavez politely expressed her anger at Williams. This scandal, she noted, would provide ammunition to those who dismiss minority conservatives as race sellouts who have been bought off by the Republicans. (She is Mexican-American.) Williams absorbed her point, acting contrite.

And boy did it how.

In the world of black America there is often little room for dissent. While we aren’t a monolith, a segment of us do believe in collective punishment for all black conservatives. Williams, along with Thomas, Ward Connerly and JC Watts are a quartet of constant bitching about their status as “race traitors.”

But Williams was special because he was tied to not only the most controversial “black turncoat,” Justice Thomas, but also a former segregationist senator who once proudly flung his N-words around with no shame and still holds the distinction of conducting the longest filibuster in senate history to stop the Civil Rights Act of 1957.

It lasted 24 hours and 18 minutes and the man was South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond.

Williams was an aide, one of his first black aids, in 1979.

Tongues were not forgiving, and were primarily joyous in Williams’ sudden stumble from a public relations representative’s bow of grace.

The Black Commentator, an internet magazine, called Williams “The Biggest Whore of All.” The publishers lashed into Williams for perverting “America’s Black Forum,” a weekly news program they initially created.

Williams was the host.

(I)t came as little surprise that the program, which once generated weekly, worldwide headlines on the scale of Meet the Press, Issues and Answers, and Face the Nation, finally became just another brothel in Armstrong Williams’ political red light district – a quickies venue for paying customers like Bush Education Secretary, Rod Paige.

Congress saw the payola scandal as being a form of propaganda, illegal under the provisions of the bill. It was one of the more minor, “humorous” controversies of the Bush Administrat
ion – dusty enough to lose a column, but not powerful enough to stop a fellow from eking out a living through books, flacking and punditry.

Since the shit-canning, Williams regularly pops up on television as a pundit, primarily on the FOX News Network. And like every political commentator worth their nickel, black or white, has weighed in on the political race and Barack Obama.

In his column for conservative news site Townhall.com, Williams gives his analysis of Obama and his views, a man who looks great from the outside, but whose core is made of the gooey nougat of Liberalism.

After some “vetting,” Williams calls Obama “an ideal candidate,” praising him for being young, charismatic, optimistic, intelligent and energetic. Then Williams digs into “the other side of him.”

Obama was given an 8 out of 100 lifetime rating (meaning he is one of the most liberal lawmakers) by the American Conservative Union, a conservative group that issues a report card on the voting records of members of Congress. Likewise, the liberal group, Americans for Democratic Action, rated Obama’s voting record in the Senate at 97.5 percent, near perfection for liberal Democrats. The National Journal even named Obama the most liberal Senator in 2007. So what exactly was he voting on that made his rankings so liberal?

Williams listed the typical substantive complaints conservatives have about Obama: he is a dove on the war. He has never been tested on the war, as he was not in the senate when the war was first voted on. He proposes a troop redeployment that Williams does not agree with and has supported “comprehensive immigration reform.”

Williams also cites Obama’s statements of a possible end to the embargo in Cuba as further evidence that his Liberal agenda cannot be reconciled with the pretty package on the outside.

Senator Barack Obama is a decent and honorable man and has the potential of being a tremendous leader someday. But before you get caught up in his charisma and optimism, make sure you clearly understand where he plans to take the world’s lone superpower. Experience especially in the area of foreign policy is increasingly important with the instability around the globe. Many rogue nations and world leaders would test the Senator early on in his administration making a determination about his leadership, wisdom, and judgment. A comprehensive examination of his quotes, votes, and experience, tells me that this man needs to be more vetted by the media and seriously challenged by Senator McCain on the issues that matters most to us as countrymen home and abroad.

These concerns about the inside and outside of Barack Obama were repeated in a different column from early 2007 also written by Williams that appeared on The Hill’s Pundits Blog. This time it was about the unease many prominent black leaders initially had over Obama, then a virtual unknown.

Williams writes on the then flood of black leaders endorsing Clinton and the lower, pre-Iowa percentages of black voters for Obama. He writes how some of the largest figures of black activism were silent on Obama’s campaign. Williams, who has a thorny relationship with a plurality of black leaders due to his views, takes this rejection of Obama by the black power structure in a personal way. Seeing the pursed lips and wayward looks of the black elite as a damnation of Obama’s gall to challenge the status quo, Williams, in his own way, defended Obama’s right to enter black discourse through non-traditional means.

With all of this said and done, the real issue here is blatant envy and jealousy. Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, who both failed in 1980s presidential nominations, fear Obama because he is a threat to their power base. Obama was elected as a Democrat to the U.S. Senate in 2004, a position that Jesse hoped for his son, Rep. Jesse Jr. (D-Ill.), who is now being relegated to the back alley. Obama owes nothing to the Jesse Jacksons and Al Sharptons of this world. He has paved his own way for a new time and a new day and therefore cannot be controlled by the caretakers of the plantation.

For our “Obama and the black conservatives” question two-step today, it was also easy to render my guesses on what Williams will do if Obama is the nominee.

Chances of endorsing Obama: None. Williams is a red-blooded Republican, third generation. He is proud of his views and has not been swayed by any amount of caterwauling or threats from others. He has accepted his station in life and wears it as a badge of pride. To me, he may be some goofy black nerd, espousing a viewpoint opposing to mine, but I fancy Williams sees himself a warrior in a twisted racialized world. Whether he is a warrior for good or ill truly depends on what side your conscious lies on the political plane.

Chances of voting for Obama: None. Williams respects Obama as being another “outsider” in the inside world of black America, but all props stop there. Williams is resolute in his beliefs. While I, personally, see Williams as a farcical opportunist, he definitely is one farcical opportunist who makes a lot more money than me.

Check back to The Black Snob all this week and next, the series concluding on April 14th.

Sunday: Amy Holmes
Monday: Condoleezza Rice
Tuesday: Ward Connerly
Wednesday: Shelby Steele
Thursday: Alan Keyes
Friday: JC Watts
Saturday: Colin Powell
Sunday: Armstrong Williams
Monday: Michael Steele
Tuesday: John McWhorter
Wednesday: LaShawn Barber and Herman Cain
Thursday: Star Parker and Eric Wallace
Friday: Larry Elder and Thomas Sowell
Saturday: Juan Williams
Sunday: A final analysis, “Who Would Clarence Thomas Vote For?”

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7 thoughts on “Armstrong Williams Could Take Barack Obama, But He’d Prefer Cash

  1. [quote]The fact that Williams agreed with the premise of No Child Left Behind (a law he favored and would have likely flacked for free) rendered the whole debacle even more comical.[/quote]Black Snob:I know that you don’t like me coming to your blog and telling you what to post BUT!……..Since you made special focus on “No Child Left Behind” I will ask you a few questions with you having the right to respond or not – it is your blog after all.1) With so much hostility over “NCLB” among SOME elements of the Black community…..what specific educational policy pre-NCLB had this same group pacified where as certain previous administrations (who are NOW not so popular being that an intramural fight is going on) were not subjected to the same attacks?2) Barack Obama said that “George Bush as ‘shortchanged’ public education” in a speech last year. In the first year of the evil Bush presidency – Bush spent at minimum $12 billion more than the Clinton Administration and, 7 years later the amount has increased even more. Barack Obama in a stump speech this year says that he will add $18 BILLION in more spending to the last evil Bush budget that is on file. MY QUESTION to you, as a seeming adversary of “NCLB” – What about Bush’s addtional $12 billion back in 2001 made him a “short changer” and what about the hero Barack Obama would make him an “Education President” in the minds of you and others who don’t particularly like conservatives?(Did you realize that the White folks in the ACLU in Flordia USED provisions out of NCLB to sue the Palm Beach County School Board for failing to graduate Black people beyond the 55% that matriculated?)I have always wondered – is NCLB a bad piece of legislation that should be scrapped and we should return back to the pre-NCLB days as Jonathan Kozol (who is in my opinion a Leftwing White supremacist – and I don’t use this word lightly) OR if NCLB is a GOOD piece of legislation that only needs MORE MONEY after George Bush had “short changed” it?If you could help me out I would greatly appreciate it.Thank you in advance.

  2. constructive feedback: The issue of education reform really drives me nuts because of the many different interests from all sides who all think they know what’s best for children.No Child Left Behind was a mess, for me personally, because it took something that was already spectacularly shitty and made it shittier. I could go into depth with it, but I think public education in our society is always going to be a problem unless it is either:A) Turned into a program that is of equal shared burden to the tax base so that there are no inequities between public schools from district to districtB) Give up on the idea of a free, equal education for everyone because we aren’t doing it anyway, and find better alternatives with the tax money that we have to get kids in poor areas better optionsOR C) Get rid of the department of education. If no one can keep a record of it, is there really a problem?And C) was the main reason why NCLB didn’t work. It was an unfunded mandate that usurped the rule of the states which have ALWAYS been in charge of determining how funds for schools should be handled.But none of that is going to happen because:A) The middle class isn’t going to let their kids lose their hockey rinks and best computer equipment just so their money can be taken to another part of the district.B) The teachers unions are going to stand for the privatization of city and rural districtsC) You can’t get rid of a government office oncer government creates it.And in an unrelated note: I really wish the Dept. of Education would stop comparing US test scores with other western countries. We don’t have a largely homogeneous culture like Europe or Asia, and we actually half-ass attempt to teach everyone regardless of income bracket unlike China. So short of a complete federalization of the American schools system (which is how it works in other countries), I don’t know how you make 50 individual states agree on how to educate their kids.Other than create unfunded mandates that those states sign on for because its federal funds are attached to it and that’s 10 percent of their income. And they’d rather let every teacher in the school get fired before they give up on that 10 percent.That’s why the best anyone in either parties can come up with is to get rid of NCLB but week the DOE. That way we can go back to the shitty of that past instead of stay in the shitty of today.But wow, you wanted to talk about that from one sentence in the Armstrong Williams story???

  3. constructive feedback: I just realized I went on a public education rant rather than answer your question.NCLB was originally intended to work as a piece of civil rights legislation to ensure that minority children in rural counties and the inner cities got a better education. The problem was a combination of the unfunded mandate and the reluctance of change among the teachers’ union that killed the thing (not to mention the fly-by-night charter schools.)The problem is the states will always be able to argue that NCLB encroaches up a state’s right to decide how to handle their schools. NCLB only works if state schools want to continue to receive federal funding. But some Republicans are pushing to have a provision written that would allow states to still get their cash.So, what I was alluding to in my earlier answer — short of public school being federalized I don’t know how you ensure an equal education. School revenue is based on property taxes, the state and their counties set those. If you’re in a rich county you get lots of money. If you’re in a poor area, you don’t.I’ve actually argued that people SHOULD be suing the state to argue that schools are still very separate and very unequal. Legal action is the only thing that can really solve this problem.So, NCLB was a nice idea. But people are going to weasel their way around it and it will be more about getting the federal money than fixing the problems.So everyone should just sue. The ACLU and the NAACP should have lawyers going nonstop.

  4. I can almost swear the president of my alma mater (a not so secret black Republican) trotted this guy out to speak to us during Opening Convocation. I know the guy spoke about No Child Left Behind, which I’d already figured out was bs… Wanna say it was my freshman year, needless to say, my eyes got a little tired and sleep followed promptly. Lol.

  5. [quote]I could go into depth with it, but I think public education in our society is always going to be a problem unless it is either:A) Turned into a program that is of equal shared burden to the tax base so that there are no inequities between public schools from district to district[/quote]Black Snob:In the bulk of your response you seemingly make the case the the critical problem with ‘urban’ public education is that of LACK OF RESOURCES compared to ‘suburban’ alternatives. While there certainly examples of this – I, however, must categorically reject this claim as there are even more abundant examples which indicate that the vast majority of Black schools are adequately resourced to provide for a basic quality education but are falling short for a number of reasons.In Metro Atlanta there is the self-inflicted wounds of the Clayton County school district. Clayco is the county south of Atlanta/Fulton County. Where as years ago there was a collective cheer when Black people became the majority population in the county and then subsequent elections put ‘their people’ in place the recent major missteps of the school system now have parents and students wondering exactly what benefit they had received in the process. This school district, which 30 years ago was one of the top ranked districts in the state now risks having its accreditation eliminated due to foolish political bantering in and among the school board members as with the school superintendents that have turned over in the recent past. Clayco has sound funding. A number of new schools or expansion projects have been funded.The fear of the loss of accreditation has caused parents, many of them Black to plot their exit from this county toward more stable and responsibly managed alternatives.This is but one example of many but my over all goal is to resist the kneejerk reaction toward the “MONEY GAP” claim. All this does is to tend to shift the focus toward the question of “did we get our money?” rather than “what do we need to do to fundamentally address the issues as to why effective academic instruction is not taking place once the door is closed and the teacher is there with her 25 to 30 students”. Many of these other issues are nothing more than “expanding the police tape” from around the ‘crime scene’ (the class room) to an all encompassing, never quenchable demand for EQUAL resources. I instead believe that an identified threshold of resources below which no system should fall and then the focus on EXECUTION is the only practical way to move forward.

  6. tarheelio says:

    Snob – I think your next series should be about why black America is almost exclusively Democrat. A party that worked so hard for so long to keep black people from having basic civil rights at all, was seemingly forgiven for all sins as soon as Kennedy was nominated to run for President. Do we not know our history? Is it because the Republicans have so many dickheads in their ranks? How did we get here? Do we think it will change?

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