Originally posted by Nadir at LastChocolateCity.com
Billed as the biggest sit down dinner in the world, the 52nd Annual NAACP Fight for Freedom Fund Dinner attracted 10,000 to Detroit’Â€Â™s Cobo Hall on April 29. Dinner itself was unremarkable. (Reports confirm that each entree – cajun beef, some unidentified fish or a mushroom pasta – was equally mediocre.)
What was most important about this dinner though was the guest list. The governor, both of Michigan’Â€Â™s US senators, several congress members, the mayor and other public officials, business and union leaders, entrepreneurs and preachers all joined grassroots activists to honor and support the nation’Â€Â™s oldest and largest civil rights organization.
During the three and a half hour event, Lifetime Achievement awards were given to Judge Anna Diggs Taylor, attorney and politician Joel Ferguson and former NAACP head Ernest Lofton. But the main attraction was the keynote address from the man described by several of the night’Â€Â™s speakers as “Â€Âœour president”Â€Â, William Jefferson Clinton.
In spite of the evidence that his administration wasn’Â€Â™t very good for African America, Black folks love Bill Clinton. Forget Barack Obama’s potential ascension to the Oval Office in 2008. The title “first Black President” has already been bestowed on the very light-skinned former governor of Arkansas.
History shows that more Black men were incarcerated, the job-stealing NAFTA agreement was signed, and an aspirin factory in Sudan was bombed all during Clinton’s presidency. He continued Bush Sr.’Â€Â™s war against Iraq, which set up Bush Jr.’Â€Â™s invasion. He planned the invasion of Afghanistan and the overthrow of the Taleban before 9/11, but couldn’Â€Â™t secure the basing rights in Turkistan and Uzbekistan needed to carry it out. Still he is loved and missed as leader of the free world.
It’Â€Â™s unfair to compare Clinton to Bush Jr. America’s worst presidents – James Buchanan and Herbert Hoover – look like geniuses next to Dubya.
Last Chocolate City contributor Tommy Gibbs uses a Detroit sports analogy to explain America’Â€Â™s love for Slick Willie. All US presidents are like the Detroit Lions. They suck. There may be some promise during the pre-season (the campaign), and you root for them because they are the home team, but when it comes down to it, they are always terrible.
According to Tommy Gibbs, Bill Clinton is the Barry Sanders-era Detroit Lions. The team itself was still terrible, but they were watchable because at any moment Barry might break one of those spectacular runs that made you forget how bad the rest of the team was.
This is Bill Clinton. He could sell blocks of ice in the Arctic and salt water at the Dead Sea. Clinton often gets credit for the econmic boom that occured during his tenure, and letÃ¢Â€Â™s face it, heÃ¢Â€Â™s an intelligent and likeable guy. You gotta love him, no matter what his record looks like. Especially when compared to the idiot who is in the office now.
Bill Clinton did not disappoint his many admirers at the Fight for Freedom dinner. After several lengthy speeches had lulled the crowd into a haze, Clinton was brief, witty and relevant. This wasn’Â€Â™t a Hillary campaign speech, as many of us expected. Clinton listed three initiatives that he wanted Detroit’s NAACP to focus on for the future.
1. Fight the scourge of predatory lending. According to the former president, payday loan establishments outnumber McDonaldÃ¢Â€Â™s franchises in the US. “This economy of ours has been great for me and for several of you, but it’Â€Â™s not been such a good deal for a lot of people,”Â€Â he said. “More people are working and losing their family’Â€Â™s health insurance. More people are working and falling below the poverty line.”Â€Â
2. Work to reduce diabetes and obesity. “The next president and Congress can give you quality, affordable health care,”Â€Â Clinton said. “But in ten years we’Â€Â™ll be right where we are now, if we don’t do something about the rising tide of childhood obesity and diabetes among our children, it is threatening our future.”Â€Â Clinton remarked that his outlook on life was changed after he nearly died. Last year, the former president underwent heart surgery. He blamed his heart disease on his life-long love of Southern cooking.
3. After a visit to Tech Town, Clinton urged the NAACP to support Governor Jennifer Granholm and Mayor Kwame Kilpatrick in their efforts to create Michigan jobs centered around energy efficiency and a greener America. Clinton’Â€Â™s point was that you can’Â€Â™t outsource window replacement or the laying of sod on a roof in and effort to keep the building cooler.
The NAACP has been struggling for many years, with stagnant membership, leadership controversies and questions about the organization’Â€Â™s relevance. Many argue that the 98 year-old civil rights group is obsolete. Like America, the NAACP is facing a crisis of leadership and is at a crossroads in its history.
Bill Clinton reminded the group that there is still much work to be done, and as a good leader should, he offered guidance and direction. Hillary’Â€Â™s campaign for the presidency is fueled by Bill’s energy and the promise of his return to the White House. Maybe Matt Millen and The Detroit Lions should pay Clinton to come and speak to the players and the administration. If nothing else, he would make them feel better about losing.
I support each of Clinton’s three recommendations, though I don’t see what they have to do with “civil rights.”
The economic boom of Clinton’s years involved several factors, but none of them are attributable to any of his legislative initiatives. The Repos controlled both houses of congress, and they passed several economic bills, and prevented any tax rate increases.
I also cannot understand why so many black folks like BC so much. I have asked many black Clinton-lovers why they love him so much, but I have never received a concrete response, except: the economy was very good during the Clinton years. Then of course I ask what Clinton legislative proposals that got passed for which they attribute the economic showing, and that always leads back to a murky, detail-less justification.
The reason that I think Clinton helped economically is that rather than attempt futile vetos of republican legislation, the embraced it and often co-opted is. For example, welfare reform. Heaven help us if he had a democratic legislature and had passed socialized medicine and tax rate increases.
“Heaven help us if he had a democratic legislature and had passed socialized medicine and tax rate increases.”
You’re speculating. There is no evidence that tax rate increases would have been attempted, much less passed by a Democratic congress. The economy was in good shape, and there was a budget surplus. Tax increases would have been completely unjustified.
Healthcare reform is still necessary, and other than the occupation of Iraq, is probably the biggest issue facing the nation. It affects the labor market, it affects all Americans from embryos to the elderly.
I don’t understand how you can still issue blanket statements against a single-payer healthcare system when every other developed nation has proven that it doesn’t adversely affect their economies. If anything, it helps by freeing up more money for both business and individuals.
The only people it doesn’t help are the greedy insurance companies, for profit medical services and pharmaceutical companies that have to now offer fair prices for healthcare. Even those companies are not going out of business in the UK or France or Japan or Canada. Your arguments are baseless.
“I also cannot understand why so many black folks like BC so much. I have asked many black Clinton-lovers why they love him so much, but I have never received a concrete response, except: the economy was very good during the Clinton years.”
A great economy and relative peace in the world is good enough reason to love any President.
The real question should be why white righties like you hated Clinton so much and love Bush who has been an umitigated disaster.
Any answers Hue?
I liked Clinton; in those days I was a lefty. In retrospect I disliked that he advocated for things that the repo congress rejected (socialized medicine, tax rate increases) and against things that the repo congress forced on him (welfare reform).
As for Bush II, the only thing that I like about him is that he successfully led legislation to reduce some tax rates. Aside from that, I am so unhappy with him that I voted straight Libertarian in the last midterm, and will do so again in the upcoming election.
I am disgusted with how he has conducted many aspects of his Iraq war, making it impossible to know if that enterprise could have ever been conducted successfully. Plus many other disappointments. It appears to me that many righties oppose him now.
I am a righty only on economic, education, and military issues, by the way. On social issues I support abortion, complete separation of church and state, and flag burning. As an absolute supporter of Free Speech, I don’t know where that puts me: I oppose firing Bill Mahr and Ward Churchill, but I also oppose firing Don Imus (a lefty who said something that upset the left) and Laura Schlesinger.
Hue, every Western Nation except the US has universal health coverage.
Now I’ve always felt that one of the reasons that the US doesn’t have universal health coverage is that many white Americans recoil at the notion that many blacks and browns will receive health benfits on “their dime”.
Bush only reduced tax rates for the top 1% of the richest Americans.
Are you in that group?
“As an absolute supporter of Free Speech, I don’t know where that puts me: I oppose firing Bill Mahr and Ward Churchill, but I also oppose firing Don Imus (a lefty who said something that upset the left) and Laura Schlesinger.”
Right Hue. I bet you are one those “free speech” guys can supports it only when it’s speech he agrees with.
I remember when the Bill Bennett (aborting black babies) flap was prominent in the news.
Psuedo-liberal (except for race issues) Richard Cohen railed in the Washington Post that Bennett’s critics were hypocrites and cowards because it was a matter of free speech.
I e-mail Cohen and said “That’s funny. I don’t remember you championing Louis Farrakhan’s freedom of speech”
I also asked Cohen how he would have felt if a radio host would have pondered on the air “If you remove every Jew from the Middle East, you would lower the lever of violence and war over there. It would be a terrible thing to do, but you would lower the violence there.
You know what Cohen did?
E-mailed me back and called me an asshole and an anti-semite.
The reason why so many blacks liked Clinton was many felt that Clinton was comfortable and real around black folks.
I know a lot of white people recoil at that and view Clinton as a panderer (what politician doesn’t) and black people as gullible dupes.
Clinton had black friends and intimate relationships with blacks.
His demeanor around blacks was natural and unforced (unlike Gore who made a complete fool of himself at that black church trying to invoke the cadences of black preachers).
Now to fair I think George Bush is very peronable and comfortable around black folks.
He visited my nephew’s elementary school in PG County 2 years and was very friendly and engaging.
Bush probably would be a lot of fun to throw back some beers with.
But I am tired of him running the country.
I disagree with what Ward Churchill says, but I reject any calls for firing him due to his comments.
Many universities have had students protest funding for Farrakhan and Shaprton; I oppose those protests. I support your statement comparing the Bennett kill black babies with killing all Jew in Arabia, and oppose any attempts to fire you or Bennett for your respective statements. I think that Cohen’s response to you was anti-intellectual and illogical.
I also agree with your assessments of Bush and Bill Clinton as having a very comfortable personal touch, and even your weariness of Bush.
I am unaware of Bill Clinton having real black friends; and he certainly put very few blacks, “hispanics”, or women into top-notch power positions, or in lots of positions from top-to-bottom, as far as I can tell. In this area Bush seems to have set records, though I profoundly disappointed me in not nominating any blacks to the SC, and in failing to advance Clarance Thomas to the Chief’s role.
“I am unaware of Bill Clinton having real black friends;
C’mon. Clinton and Vernon Jordan had been friends for 30 years.
Clinton’s relationship with Ron Brown Rod Slater and Betty Currie went back almost as far.
“and he certainly put very few blacks, “hispanics”, or women into top-notch power positions, or in lots of positions from top-to-bottom, as far as I can tell.”
This is ridiculous.
Clinton had a black Solicitor General, Sec of Labor, Sec of Energy, Sec of Agriculture, Sec of Commerce and Veteran Affairs.
Clinton had a female Secretary of State Hue!!!!
The first one ever!!!
Were you in coma during the 90’s?
He had a hispanic VA chief and a hispanic HUD chief.
A female EPA chief, Sec of Labor, Energy and Surgeon General.
There were more blacks at sub-cabinet level under Clinton than any administration before or since.
“In this area Bush seems to have set records, though I profoundly disappointed me in not nominating any blacks to the SC, and in failing to advance Clarance Thomas to the Chief’s role.”
Tell the truth Hue.
If Condi Rice and Clarence Thomas were white, would they be in their current positions.
If so, why?
As a founder of the Democratic Leadership Council, Clinton is in the right wing of the Democratic Party. This is reflected in his (and his wife’s) view on the Iraq war, on his signing of NAFTA, on welfare reform which has added more people to the poverty roles.
“The reason why so many blacks liked Clinton was many felt that Clinton was comfortable and real around black folks.
“I know a lot of white people recoil at that and view Clinton as a panderer (what politician doesn’t) and black people as gullible dupes.”
While I don’t view all Blacks as gullible dupes, I agree that he pandered to a degree. However, Clinton was one of those cats who smiles in your face and stabs you in the back.
The middle and upper middle class Blacks at the NAACP dinner were throwing a love fest for Clinton that makes me sick. A lot of poor people like him too, though he did nothing to improve their lives.
He is a likeable dude. I’d much rather have a beer with Clinton than Bush. Better conversation, I’m sure. But I didn’t like many of his policies.
“Clinton had black friends and intimate relationships with blacks.”
Speaking of “intimate relationships”…
When it was announced that Clinton was opening his office in Harlem, a buddy of mine and I considered sending him a subscription to “Black Tail” magazine. Ultimately we decided against it. We figured he already has a subscription.
If Clarence Thomas and Condi Rice were white, they would not be in their current positions. No question there.
Well, of course I believe that what would help the most people of all “races” and current income brackets is lower, simpler taxes and fewer government programs.
Steve makes a good case that Clinton had more blacks and women in all tier levels and among his authentic friends. I now desire a careful, factual study of that topic. I’m unconvinced of his conclusion, but his assertion has caused me to doubt my assertion and opened me to a fresh analysis.
Clarence Thomas: would a white guy with his credentials have made it to the SC? I concede the point to those who claim no. However, he has demonstrated to me that his performance exceeds those of any of his peers. I think that he has the SC’s most brilliant and consistent and sensible mind.
Condi Rice: I don’t know who else you’d look for in a Nat’l Sec Adviser or Sec of State. She has a phd in Russian history (though not from a top-tier school), leadership at a top-tier school as a professor, speaks Russian, and is a great personal friend to the president. As far as her performance, I don’t see how to fault her; she conducts Bush’s policies. Though we can fault her for not being more thorough and forceful in analyzing and planning for the Iraq invasion, all of Bush’s people get that criticism, with the possible exception of Colin Powell.
“Clarence Thomas: would a white guy with his credentials have made it to the SC? I concede the point to those who claim no. However, he has demonstrated to me that his performance exceeds those of any of his peers. I think that he has the SC’s most brilliant and consistent and sensible mind.”
Oh c’mon. He’s definitely been the most reactionary SC justice.
But can you point to one brilliant opinion he’s offered any important case? He’s completely silent on the bench, never engaging lawyers or advocates.
“Condi Rice: I don’t know who else you’d look for in a Nat’l Sec Adviser or Sec of State. She has a phd in Russian history (though not from a top-tier school), leadership at a top-tier school as a professor, speaks Russian, and is a great personal friend to the president. As far as her performance, I don’t see how to fault her; she conducts Bush’s policies. Though we can fault her for not being more thorough and forceful in analyzing and planning for the Iraq invasion, all of Bush’s people get that criticism, with the possible exception of Colin Powell.”
She’s been a total disaster. She’s an academic, not a diplomat and her counsel on the the ME is non-existant. She carries out Bush/Cheney’s policies. She has no clout in international diplomatic circles and commands no respect.
This is classic “Magic Negro” worship.
Generally white rightwingers regard blacks as barely domesticated animals.
Yet all a black has to do is announce that they are conservative Republicans, then they suddenly become the most brilliant, capable, accomplished beings on the planet.
Thomas writes succinctly and mostly keeps mums during SC oral presentations because he feels that this is correct and efficient behavior for a SC justice. I agree with him. If you witness one of his speeches or read any of his writing you will quickly learn that he is as articulate and eurodite as any of his SC peers.
He believes — correctly and refreshingly — that a SC justice’s job is very simple: consider the pre-hearing written briefs, which are extensive and contain all factual claims and points of law advanced by the attorney, then compare these facts and laws to the US constitution. Properly prepared SC justices attend the hearings with their judgments ready.
No need to ask a bunch of rhetorical questions or issue a bunch of superfluous opinions, or invent considerations out of the air. That is what Thomas avoids, an example that too few of his peers follow.
The questions that SC justices are charged with answering are few and simple, such as: Is the law under question permitted by the Constitution? Did the appealed ruling abide by constitutional law and procedures?