As a true vision of George W. Bush’s hallmark catchphrase, is Barack Obama the true “uniter, not a divider” as the one man black Republicans and Democrats can agree on?
A lot of people talk about Sen. Barack Obama in the terms of him bringing Democrats and Republicans together by being willing to cross the aisle and reach out to Republicans. While this notion is nice, I don’t quite see that happening if Obama makes it to the White House. Most Republicans, with a few rare exceptions, have been unwilling to cede any ground to the Democrats, or even the center in some cases. It’s typically the Democrats capitulating as many Democratic senators and representatives were elected as centrists in Republican or moderate districts.
No, the great unification I’m more interested in is the myriad of reactions from black conservatives, politicians and pundits to Obama’s ascension from freshman senator to Democratic sensation.
My curiosity was initially piqued with Colin Powell outted himself as a foreign policy advisor to Barack Obama. It only grew as various black conservative pundits wavered between reserved admiration and dulled dislike for Obama. It’s only grown since Secy. of State Condeleeza Rice recently chimed in on Obama’s recent speech on race relations in America, largely agreeing with the sentiment of the speech and adding that America has a “birth defect” from being founded by liberty seeking revolutionaries and the black slaves brought here as their beasts of burden.
While Obama has received his fair share of criticism and Liberal boogyman beatdowns from black conservatives, he’s also received a lot of praise. There seems to be a “two-ness” in the black conservative response. As a black person, they’re proud to an extent. But as a Republican they’d rather be rooting for Michael Steele or Alan Keyes. But even with that caveat there are still fissures in the façade. The first black president, ever, is still to delicious of a dream to pass on completely causing many black Republicans to do the same thing that many anti-war, Liberals have done – see what they want to see and hear what they want to hear.
Because I’m willing to take one for the black Liberal team, I took the time to research the opinions of fourteen prominent black conservatives and conservative-leaning moderates and found some surprising (and not surprising) results. While I don’t usually agree with the black Right, I do understand their reasons for being Republicans and/or conservatives. I don’t usually agree with those reasons, but I can see why they came to these conclusions.
“The Talented Fourteenth,” as I’ve so dubbed them, will be profiled throughout the next two weeks with one black conservative a day. Sunday’s installment features CNN gadfly and regular “Real Time with Bill Maher” guest, Liberal-Conservative-Independent-Republican, Amy Holmes.
Holmes, a conservative pundit and former speech writer for Sen. Bill Frist, gets on TV, a lot. It doesn’t hurt that she’s physically attractive. She talks with confidence in every subject, even those she’s not particularly versed in, even when she’s flat out wrong. She sort of reminds me of White House Press Secretary Dana Perino, only I don’t like Dana Perino, yet I am somewhat partial to Holmes, despite never agreeing with her. I can’t really explain or justify it. But I’ll be honest – it’s probably because I’m an educated light-skinned black woman with naturally curly hair who can also talk really, really fast. Plus we both had the “that could have be me!” outrage over Don Imus flippantly tossing around “nappy headed ho” remark about academically exceptional black female student-athletes at one of the United State’s oldest institutions.
Our similarities end there. Her opinions on Obama follow below.
On Barack Obama’s “race speech,” from the National Review Online blog – The Corner:
My first reaction? Race speeches are rarely good, and this was no exception. For all of Obama’s new talk of change, courage, politics you can believe in, I heard a whole lot of liberal boilerplate dressed up in euphemism and offering no fresh solutions …
(I)n an effort to lay blame everywhere, Obama called out his own grandmother for admitting to her, now, not so secret fear of young black male strangers. He said that when he was growing up her remarks sometimes made him cringe. Well, for my part, hearing him compare a woman who sacrificed for his well-being to a pastor who’s only benefited from his association made me cringe. Real courage and real candor is Chris Rock standing on stage telling a packed black audience that seeing young black men on dark lonely night near the glow of an ATM can make him feel nervous, too.
On Anderson Cooper 360’s blog, defending Obama against former Democratic Vice President nominee Geraldine Ferraro attack that Obama was lucky to be in the situation he is in right now, benefiting from being both black and a male:
The answer is simple and on message. Barack is lucky, and he should say so.
He’s lucky to be an American, a citizen of the greatest nation in human history. He’s lucky and blessed to have a smart and beautiful wife who loves him and sustains him, two strong and healthy daughters he has the privilege and responsibility of raising.
He’s lucky to be on the campaign trail meeting his fellow citizens everyday and asking them to spread his message, “Yes we can.” And with luck, hard work, and the support of the American people, he hopes to bring that message to the White House.
And again on The Corner, defending Obama’s blackness credentials:
Certainly, there are powerful forces in the black community to define oneself in political grievance terms. But it seems to me that a lot of the pressure to “keep it real” has been deflated by the fact that so many who make that silly claim are demonstrable and obvious phonies.
Some have argued that you have to take any conservative opinion Holmes has with a grain of salt. Her conservative credentials have been questioned due to her pro-choice stance on abortion, as well as some other “Liberal” views. She’s registered as an “independent” and many people
have alluded that she touts herself as a conservative purely out of the fact that as an attractive young black woman she would get more press and more work if she leaned conservative.
The question for Amy Holmes is really this: are the things she says on CNN, FOX, and Real Time with Bill Maher really her opinion, or is she just spotlight-seeking? After all, this is the woman who in 2000 admitted to The Daily Princetonian that “I love photo shoots. I understand now why celebrities get addicted.” – Teague Bohlen, Demver Blog, Westworld
But, for what it’s worth, she did donate $250 to black Republican Michael Steele’s failed bid for senate in 2006.
Holmes has been, at best, mixed on Obama. She’s both defended and criticized him. Her criticism has mostly centered on Obama being a “Liberal” and accusing him of reinforcing anachronistic notions of race when Holmes feels Americans, black and white, have evolved past some of the issues bolstered by the, ahem, race hustling poverty pimps of the black progressive Left.
Shock of all shocks, I actually think Holmes is sincere in both her defense and, to a lesser extent, her criticisms of Obama. While she does brandish the Scarlet “L” around, I can’t tell how much of her heart is behind that. I’m not a mind reader, but from what I’ve seen of Holmes repeatedly on CNN, she doesn’t seem particularly interested in bashing Obama besides getting in a few talking points. She’s typically more interested in tearing into his opponent, Hillary Clinton.
This isn’t saying that Holmes will be plunking $250 down for Obama, but I wouldn’t be shocked if she came out for him or voted for him either. Although Holmes and I haven’t agreed on anything other than “Don Imus should be fired” and “Republicans should reach out to the black community more,” she seems to be – I don’t know – reasonable. She’s just as excited about the prospect of a black president as the next black person despite the fact he doesn’t hold the exact same views as her.
This is not so much different as Irish Catholics voting for Kennedy in 1960 and Mormons voting for Mitt Romney in 2008. There is something intrinsically exciting and visceral about one of your own, a favorite son, making a go of it. Black people, even black Republicans, are not immune to this.
Chances of endorsing Obama: What? And ruin her chances of getting on TV all the time? As if!
Chances of voting for Obama: This is a no brainer. Conservative or no, she’s voting for him in the general. That’s just my opinion, mind you. I have no facts or imperical evidence. But I’ve seen her teeter-totter on the Liberal-Conservative divide, and I have a gut feeling of “truthiness” that she’s going to fall into the Obama camp, albeit secretly, if he’s the nominee.
Check back to The Black Snob all this week on my series “Friend of Frienemies: Black Conservatives On Barack Obama,” concluding on April 18th.
Monday: Condoleezza Rice
Tuesday: JC Watts
Wednesday: Shelby Steele
Thursday: Alan Keyes
Friday: Ward Connerly
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: A final analysis, “Who Would Clarence Thomas Vote For?”