Tag Archives: president obama

Don’t beat up poor Harry

So Harry Reid is the latest politician to get caught with his foot in his mouth. I’m not a Harry Reid fan. (That’s actually an understatement.) However, I will not be joining the crowds who have been calling for his head on a stake over some 2008 comments.

According to CNN, here is what the fuss is all about.

“The controversy surrounds remarks published in the book “Game Change,” which goes on sale Monday.

It quotes Reid as saying privately in 2008 that Obama could succeed as a black candidate partly because of his “light-skinned” appearance and speaking patterns ‘with no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.’”

The news stories don’t provide the full context of Harry’s “private” remarks, but I think it is safe to think that as a professional politician, he was giving his opinion on then-candidate Obama’s prospects as a presidential candidate.

Nothing he said was factually inaccurate. President Obama is a light skinned mixed-race without a natural ethnic accent. The use of the term “Negro” may have been an un-PC term, but it is not a racial slur. Light skinned? A factor of mixed-race. Black enough to be considered “black,” but still with a foot in both camps.

What do these factors have to do with Obama’s qualifications to be president?

Nothing.

But Harry didn’t comment on Obama’s qualifications to be president. He commented on his prospects as a candidate.

In an ideal world, maybe these shouldn’t be factors in an election, but we don’t live in an ideal world, certainly not when it comes to politics. In 2008 or today, issues of race, gender and sexual orientation are important factors that influence voters. The way a candidate appears and sounds can be as important as what he or she says. It can be a major influence on the voting public. A political professional who would ignore that would not be a professional politician very long.

I haven’t read the book, so I don’t know if those comments were the full extent of Harry’s assessment of Candidate Obama’s qualifications. (There will be some who may argue that those were the full extent of his qualifications, but I won’t go there right now.)

To succeed in a national election, a candidate cannot be too far removed from the mainstream. Al Sharpton was an interesting candidate and certainly one who would have represented his vision of the black community, but he never had a ghost’s chance of winning the White House. He was too clearly identified as being the black candidate. And at the moment, African Americans still comprise only about 11% of the US population.

President Obama succeeded because he was crossover candidate. His message appealed to a significant percentage of mainstream America. His appearance helped with some groups and was sufficiently mainstream that it did not seriously hurt him among others. .

In President Obama, we have our first black, or at least mixed-race, president. It may not be too much longer before we see Hispanic or gay (maybe a little longer) candidates competing on the national scene. However, I doubt if we will see them succeeding nationally if they have a thick Spanish accent, or run around dressed like the Village People.

I’m not saying that’s the way it ought to be. I’m just saying that’s the way it is. Don’t crucify poor Harry for saying what darn near everyone else was thinking.

“Start spreading the news…”

It’s been a busy week. This is the first opportunity I’ve to post the story of our trip to New York City last weekend.

Mrs. Poolman and I were both “Big Apple Virgins.” Neither of us had visited NYC. There is a story behind this, so bear with me.

Our hostess on this trip was a good friend who I’ve known since high school. Randi has stayed in touch with us and we have visited back and forth, but never to New York.

Also along was another couple. Marcia and Greg. Marcia and Randi have been best friends since grade school and we were all part of the same group of friends in high school. Marcia and I have stayed loosely in touch since then, mostly on a Christmas card exchange basis.

Several years ago, Marcia’s husband, Greg, an artist and art teacher, was diagnosed with ALS. At this point, he is confined to a motorized wheelchair with limited use of a thumb to control it. They took a southern vacation last spring and spent several days with us. Despite some initial trepidation, we had a great time. Marcia is the same fantastic person she was 35 years ago. Greg is simply a superman. For a guy who has a terribly crippling disease, his attitude is incredible. To talk to him, you would think he had nothing more serious than a sprained ankle. They are absolutely amazing!

We flew up on Thursday and stayed until Sunday evening. Marcia and Greg drove up from Philadelphia on Friday afternoon.

Randi is absolutely the “hostess with the mostest.” She had darn near every waking minute crammed with some activity. Our HQ was her apartment two blocks south of Central Park. We were unabashed tourists and loved it.

We rode the Staten Island Ferry.Staten Island Ferry

NYC Skyline_edited-1We even saw President Obama leave Manhattan after his UN visit.Obama

We went to Grand Central Station.Grand Central

We ate incredible meals. Meal

We visited Central Park.Central Park

We went to Time Square.Times Square

We walked the Brooklyn Bridge.Brooklyn Bridge

We went to a Broadway play.Billy Elliot

We watched the lights come on from the Top of the Rock.City Lights

With just an hour left before we had to leave to the airport, we even squeezed in a street fair.Street Fair

And we walked, and we walked, and we walked, even in the rain. .Walk in the rain

Great time had by all. Thank you Randi, Marcia and Greg for making it a fantastic weekend. We’ll be back!