Monday, November 17, 2008

Politics Politics

It looks like quite a few people are still very interested in what our soon-to-be president and his wife have to say.

Foto: João Laet / Agência O DiaHe's still provoking tremendous excitement across the globe, including among African-descendant people in Latin America (thanks, HBR!), and in particular in Brazil (from left, singer Toni Garrido, actor and model Walter Rosa, actor and MC André Ramiro, and actor Rocco Pitanga, photo: João Laet, Agência O Dia). Though black and brown French people and Britons are energized by Obama's victory, France's lone black governmental minister remains pessimistic that a French Obama is possible with the current political crowd. Yet his French enthusiasts have formed committees to discuss and push for change, and have the support of France's first lady, Carla Bruni Sarkozy. In the UK, it's not likely anytime soon, given the political system and comparatively smaller black and brown populations, but some believe the electorate would be ready.

There's a subset in this country, however, who aren't happy at all at the election results (just as they weren't by the very prospect of Obama's candidacy or victory), and are acting out in horrid ways. It's imperative that while we respect people's free speech rights, the authorities do not write off as "knuckleheads" or "aspirational," that is, take lightly the threats against the president or anyone else, or dismiss violent or deadly acts by these folks. As the Oklahoma City bombing 13 years ago demonstrated, domestic terrorists can be as great a threat and as deadly as foreign ones.

We're hardly in a post-racial world; this is part of what poet Brian Gilmore eloquently argues in his Bookforum review of historian David R. Roediger's How Race Survived U.S. History and law professor and my college classmate Ariela J. Gross's What Blood Won’t Tell, books that Brian says "chart the ongoing legacy of the legal apartheid system in the United States." Not that I need to say this, but no one should be celebrating the end of "race" or racism, two terms that unfortunately that often elided into one another to efface the latter and misrepresent the former.

Back to President Elect Obama, I'm trying not to focus too much on the ideological-political casts of his appointees (I've been disappointed by some of the picks, like Rahm Emanuel, and heartened by others, like Mona Sutphen), or get too caught up in the drama involving any mention of Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton's role in the new administration. Certainly I think she'd be an excellent Secretary of State, or really anything he appointed her too, because she's brilliant and dogged to the point at times of ruthlessness, but then several of the people whose names have been bandied about for this post could serve with distinction. The real issue as I see it is would this post be enough for Hillary? Then again, short of the presidency, what would a comparable platform? One person he pray he does not pick is Colin Powell, has irrevocably disgraced himself through his active participation in putting us in Iraq. His endorsement of Obama was great, but that was more about his own atonement. Another, and this goes without saying of course, is John McCain--President Obama, just say no, seriously. With regard to his larger staffing process, I sincerely hope he is considering many more new faces and fewer of the Clintonistas, and lots of Latinos and Asian Americans, since he won among both groups overwhelmingly. There's a reason the vote totals in California, New York, Illinois, New Mexico, and other states weren't close at all.... His first two choices for the US Supreme Court should be Elena Kagan and Harold Hongju Koh. Sí se puede!

I'm glad to see that it's increasingly unlikely that the longest-serving Republican Senator, now a convicted felon, will not be heading back to Washington. This means no Palin appointee, including herself, and a moderate-progressive Democrat, Mark Begich, will be holding the junior Alaska seat for at least the next 6 years. Al Franken remains in limbo, though the way things are looking incumbent Norm Coleman could be facing not just a recount but a judge and jury fairly soon. I keep getting emails from Jim Martin's campaign about the runoff in Georgia; the voting begins today.

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