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Germany's Spiegel Online joins the latest chorus of Obama-bashing today with a piece entitled, "Dashed Hopes: How Obama Disappointed the World." I'm amongst the last people to defend Obama's record and/or accuse his critics of racism, but I must say, even for me, this piece seems to go over the line.

The basic thrust of the article is that Obama failed to connect with and/or ignored the anger in the electorate over the economic crisis, thereby creating a vacuum has been exploited by the Tea Party. Fine, I agree. But the author then goes in for yet another of these lame attempts to explain the President's failures in psychological terms:

One of the keys to Obama's [teaching] success was that he, as a black man, was reserved. He knew exactly how to handle his white students, and what appealed to or frightened them. He was the son of a black Kenyan who had left the family when Obama was two. He was raised by his white mother and, at times, his white grandparents, in Indonesia and Hawaii, and he was raised as a white person. In fact, Obama was a white man with black skin, someone who had to teach himself how to speak the way black people did, and who started playing basketball, the most popular sport in black America, to become more comfortable in his role as a black man.

.   .   .

His complicated identity as a black man and his moderate and conciliatory approach have become obstacles that threaten his presidency. Hartman, the editor from Chicago, says that she sometimes wishes Obama were angrier. "You did not see fists going up, you do not see pounding on the desk," she adds. "That's not his style."

An economic crisis affects any president, and a downturn is often the reason presidents are voted out of office. But because the great communicator has apparently forgotten how to talk to his voters, the crisis affects him more adversely than other presidents before him. Everything he does now is seen in a critical light, which only reinforces the impression that he doesn't understand the problems of Americans and that he is weak when it comes to making decisions.

http://www.spiegel.de/...

This is pretty clumsy stuff here. So all of President Obama's failings can be explained with reference to his "complicated" identity as a black man, and how that makes him "weak" in his decision-making process?

I don't know who Mark Hujer, the author of this piece, is, but I'm not sure that he's really qualified to speculate about the role that Barack Obama's racial identity plays in his politics. I mean, it's not as though Barack Obama is the first politician to ever be known for ignoring the plight of the working class and the poor in favor of Wall Street, or of being a moderate, conciliator instead of an ideological, partisan firebrand. President Bill Clinton was no different really; did Spiegel speculate about the role that his race played in his desire to pass NAFTA, welfare reform and anti-crime legislation?

The hundreds of millions of dollars in Wall Street/corporate money that has flowed and will continue to flow into Barack Obama's campaign coffers, his clear and unabashed ideological commitment to neoliberal economic policy, the emergence of the Tea Party movement and the 2010 election results -- none of that has anything to do with President Obama's inability to move forward on his agenda? It all has to do with the fact that he's a "white man with black skin" who doesn't want to appear as an "angry black man"? Riiiight.

I don't defend Obama because of his race, but I don't think it's right to criticism him with reference to it either. He's the most powerful man on Earth, the leader of the Free World, an independent, free thinker who can do whatever he wants to do. He can be an angry black man if he wants to. Shit, Samuel Jackson's made a career out of it, and white people still love him, don't they? His successes and his failures are his alone. They don't represent black America, or America's hopes for racial equality, or the progressive movement. He's just a man who was elected to a very important job, and let's just hold him accountable for his job, irrespective of all of this ancillary bullshit.

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Comment Preferences

    •  I agree. (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pilkington, TomP

      I don't think Obama has been an effective framer of debates, especially recently.

      But this racializing of that quality is really disgusting. As if there's some objective definition of "blackness". I guess I shouldn't be surprised that this is coming from a white dude.

      Very paternalistic.

      Obama should frame debates more aggressively against Republicans because it's a good political move, not because the authenticity of his "blackness" is in question. Jesus Christ.

  •  Germans talking about race. hmmm. (11+ / 0-)

    Barack Obama is an African American.   Those who seek explanations of pilicy choices based on lack of blackness simply reveal their own stereotyped views and racism.

    There are lots of black folks with all sorts of personalities and skills. They all are authentic.  Even Clarence Thomas.

    The American people must wise up and rise up!

    by TomP on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:56:57 AM PDT

    •  Haven't they gone down this road before? (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP, Pilkington

      I can't remember right now, but there was one time during the campaign when Spiegel (a right center publication) let their true sentiments show?

      "Irrelevant people trying to deal with their irrelevance led by a shrewd businesswoman trying to make it impossible for candidates to not buy ads from her."

      by NoFortunateSon on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:02:52 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I think there are still issues (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        Pilkington, esquimaux

        in German culture about pluralism and diversity, as there are in American culture.  

        As frustrating as America can be, I think we are far ahead of many European nations in terms of diversity.  I see no Turkish German as Prime Minister in Germany.

        There are many things wrong here, but many people here do try.   We did elect Barack Obama and that does say something.

        i have a vague memory of some controversy with Der Spiegal and Obama in 2008, but not sure what it was.

        The American people must wise up and rise up!

        by TomP on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:06:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  Hear, hear Tom! (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      TomP

      Exactly right.

    •  Thanks muchly. (0+ / 0-)

      As a German American, I really love it when 'Germans' are lumped as a whole in view of the actions of a single contemporary person.

      Sort of like 'Americans talking about race. hmmm.'  because of slavery.  

      Just as with Americans, or, really, pretty much the people of any other nation, some Germans are more racist, some less.  Some more clueless, some less.

  •  Stuff like this (7+ / 0-)

    is exactly what pisses a lot of people off about Obama.  

    One of the keys to Obama's [teaching] success was that he, as a black man, was reserved.

    This right here says it all for me.  It's that long held on to belief that blacks are more like animals than our less colorful counterparts and their natural state is to be aggressive and him being reserved is abnormal due to his skin color.

    These are not isolated thoughts of a German writer, they can be more artfully put together but they aren't isolated.

    I will say no more.

    Who shot ya? Seperate the weak from the ob-solete Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets It's on ____, f**k all that bickering beef I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek

    by mim5677 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 08:59:18 AM PDT

    •  Yes, it points to an asepct of (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Pilkington, demimondian, denig

      personality and defines it as "white" and the reverse as "black."

      That is racism whether the characteristic is good or bad in the eyes of the beholder.

      All X are Y is the logical error because not all blacks are anything and not all whites are anything.    

      The American people must wise up and rise up!

      by TomP on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:02:07 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  You know what is kind of funny. (3+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        TomP, mallyroyal, blindyone

        I'm very reserved and have what people percieve as a "cool" personality and I think they associate that with my skin color.  

        It often depends on what people want to project on to or what they want to get out of a person.

        Who shot ya? Seperate the weak from the ob-solete Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets It's on ____, f**k all that bickering beef I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek

        by mim5677 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:10:44 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  It's backwards day! (11+ / 0-)

    I too am very critical of Obama.  I've been so for a long time.  That means I sit here shaking my head at some of the most outlandish defenses of indefensible actions.

    Having said that, it looks like some of his disillusioned supporters have shot right past me, to the point where I feel it is necessary to offer a defense of a President who I consider a terrible disappointment.  It's bizarre.

    This weird need to identify some deep developmental reason for why he fails is strange.  To try to tie it up in some half-baked race relation crap is ridiculous.  Especially since in the end, it doesn't matter.

    Justice deferred is justice denied. -MLK

    by zephron on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:02:47 AM PDT

  •  On Sam Jackson and Obama (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mallyroyal, denig

    I don't want to get into this but I don't think comparing a screen actor to a president of the most powerful country is a fair one.

    When I say comparing I mean comparing the ability and affect of one playing and angry black man that will hurt you if you ran into such a person, to an angry black man that determines actual policy for hundres of millions of people.  

    I get it the point but that's the exact type of thing that gets people confused about the difference between Barack Obama and every other black man, woman, or child that has been or is currently a citizen of the U.S.  

    He is one of a kind and a proper and fitting comparison for a black head of state and leader of the free world would be to other black leaders(heads of state) around the world, not in Hollywood.

    Who shot ya? Seperate the weak from the ob-solete Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets It's on ____, f**k all that bickering beef I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek

    by mim5677 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:07:08 AM PDT

    •  OK, that's was a bit of a joke (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      esquimaux

      My point is that I don't think the imagery of an angry black man is quite a taboo in America as sometimes people make it out to be. Al Sharpton is probably the archetypical angry black man (at least in politics) and he hosts his own TV news/talk show. Rappers with famously snarling grills such as Ice Cube now star in family friendly movies. I think if President Obama in the position that he's in wanted to get angry in public every now and then, he wouldn't suffer for it.

      •  I know it was a joke (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        denig

        I really do understand that but again the comparison that keeps coming up is rappers.

        Sharpton has a TV, Barack Obama has a country.
        Jesse Jackson has a non-profit Barack Obama has a country.

        Nelson Mandela the leader of a country pushed for reconciliation after decades, jail time, brutal murder, and exclusion of the people he represented and Barack Obama is weak because he won't prosecute people for white collar crimes.  You see the difference.

        Comparing Barack Obama to people that have never been leaders of a country, whether they are American or not is an unfair comparison.

        Who shot ya? Seperate the weak from the ob-solete Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets It's on ____, f**k all that bickering beef I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek

        by mim5677 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:52:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yeah, but there's really no equivalent to Obama (0+ / 0-)

          in terms of that. I'm not aware of any other black person who has ever been elected President of a majority white country.

          •  Right (0+ / 0-)

            so if Obama isn't an entertainer and there never has been a black leader elected to office in a majority white country, why use the entertainers?

            I get it though, to me using entertainers and protest politicians is a poor comparison.

            Who shot ya? Seperate the weak from the ob-solete Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets It's on ____, f**k all that bickering beef I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek

            by mim5677 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 12:32:27 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  When people invoke the "angry black man" (0+ / 0-)

              meme as a reason for Obama's reluctance to be more aggressive in his dealings with Republicans, they aren't referencing politics, they are referencing the wider culture. In that light, I think it's fair to respond that in the wider culture, in my opinion, angry black men aren't as "scary" to the general population as they are sometimes made out to be. I personally don't think white people are all that scared of black men these days. But hey, maybe that's just me.

              •  Let one get out of line... (0+ / 0-)

                and see.

                Who shot ya? Seperate the weak from the ob-solete Hard to creep them Brooklyn streets It's on ____, f**k all that bickering beef I can hear sweat trickling down your cheek

                by mim5677 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 01:37:35 PM PDT

                [ Parent ]

                •  I see it all the time (0+ / 0-)

                  Black men getting verbally aggressive in various kinds of settings. I live in a super-liberal milieu, so the non-blacks tend to be very deferential and "understanding". But I don't see anyone getting really scared over it. It's more sort of patronizing and then it's on to the next topic.

  •  His color means nothing to me. (0+ / 0-)

    His character (I bet there's one there somewhere) means everything.

    I didn't care for math, but when I first understood the concept of finding the slope of a curve at a point, I wanted to grab the first girl I saw and kiss her with wild abandon, just like in that WW II photo.

    by dov12348 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:09:20 AM PDT

  •  Agh. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pilkington, TomP, Geekesque

    I think everyone on the site, regardless of their feelings about Obama's performance, will agree this is dreck.

  •  what a nasty article (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Pager, Pilkington, TomP, Geekesque, doroma

    thanks for the diary Pilkington. I am cool with criticism of the WH but this is several steps too far. Yuck.

    "The clown car always has room for one more" - a hilarious kossack

    by rexymeteorite on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:11:21 AM PDT

    •  But there is a casual (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Catte Nappe

      racism returning to mainstream thought.  You know, "Leroy" is athletic, or Wilbur is slow, or Sudyep Nahjjranja can spell.
      And that is the rub with stereotypes.  At first you poke fun, then next thing you know, you have people like my friend Sharr who works overnight at An Anti Union Retail Store, and he tells me "blacks are given the nightshift and they are stockers cause they can lift."  Are you telling me, that after 150 fucking years that the only progress good men like him have made is $7.50 an hour?  Heartbreaking.  But worse, he seems to buy into the thought.

      A genius aware of his intelligence is an idiot. An idiot aware of his intelligence is a genius. -Blue Tex

      by Blue Tex on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:21:16 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  I'm qualified (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    mallyroyal, lordcopper

    As a black man having grown up in a predominately white world, I'm think I'm pretty qualified to judge the complexities of Obama's identity.  He's "blacker" than me and I think the Spiegel author has touched on "the elephant in the room".

    Unlike much of how the public characterizes (stereotypes) traits of "black identity" (for example, ego-centrism, quick to rage, lack of discipline, being governed by caprice), Barack Obama knew that simply to be a player in the game of politics, he must never ever, be perceived as a "black man" in the eyes of the larger public.  

    He may speak with a particular style of speech that suggests "black", but just about everything else about him screams a disciplined, driven personality that knows to never show rage, always avoid conflict (survival traits that many black people that live in the larger world employ).  How many times did the Clintons goad Obama to get angry. Or the Republican's racist and unabashed derision.  Again, nothing from Obama.  He was a cool cookie.  But so many times I wanted him to get angry especially during the Obama/McCain debate. There was so many opportunities for Obama to clean the floor with McCain.  But no, Mr. Obama held to his inscrutable face.

    The difference was that many independents were willing to take a chance on him and the "milquetoast" (and at the same time exotic)  personality was not threatening.  

    It is indeed ironic that these same traits are what is now getting him into trouble with the electorate for the seeming appearance of weakness and fecklessness.  But, that has been part of Obama's winning mystique, he is consistently underestimated.  

    Sometimes I think his demeanor is right out of the pages of "The Art of War". But the tragedy is that if his "safe" demeanor is not merely an act and is instead his real character, then we are not well served because the very nature of time and politics constrain him.  

     

    --Mr. President, you have to earn my vote every day. Not take it for granted. --

    by chipoliwog on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:46:44 AM PDT

    •  That's where I get off the train (0+ / 0-)

      Yes, I understand that there is in the wider culture a certain pressure on blacks to act in ways that counter the stereotypes out there, but as I mentioned in the diary, IMHO, even that is more self-imposed than it is externally imposed, and in any event, Obama's the freakin' President of the United States of America, that shit does not apply to him.

      I think the answer has nothing to do with race. His bread is buttered on Wall Street, and he does not personally have a commitment to the working class and the poor. He does have a commitment to "getting things done" in the name of progress, and in order to make that happen, he's willing to work with and compromise with anyone else. Exactly the same as a ton of white Democrats.

  •  this is the same fucking thing Cornel West did (5+ / 0-)

    and folks around here ate that shit up.  what's different?  the fact that the guy is German?

    "I'm Black and I'm proud, I'm ready, I'm hype, plus I'm amped/ most of my heroes don't appear on no stamp!" ~Carlton Ridenhour

    by mallyroyal on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:46:51 AM PDT

    •  Nah, I think he was panned pretty well here.N/T (0+ / 0-)

      I'll Rochambeau you for it.

      by Rich in PA on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:12:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  No he wasnt... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        mallyroyal

        he was used as a rhetorical device, step 2 before going to double dog dare level of AYCMAR.

        I for one am tired of pandering to perpetrators --- many of whom are opposed to any discussion however it comes. -- soothsayer99 DPK Caucus

        by princss6 on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:19:35 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  hell no he wasn't. (0+ / 0-)

        those of us that had a problem with what he said were accussed of smearing him, and/or ignoring his overall point to focus on a small point.

        you can't change history.

        "I'm Black and I'm proud, I'm ready, I'm hype, plus I'm amped/ most of my heroes don't appear on no stamp!" ~Carlton Ridenhour

        by mallyroyal on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:20:28 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

    •  I don't remember Cornell West getting a great (0+ / 0-)

      reception, but at least you can say that Cornell West is a lot more qualified to talk about racial identity and politics in the U.S. than Der Speigel!

      •  you remember differently than I do. (0+ / 0-)

        I remember Adept2U having to write a response diary the 'West love' was so cloying around here.

        something like "come and get some" was in the title.

        "I'm Black and I'm proud, I'm ready, I'm hype, plus I'm amped/ most of my heroes don't appear on no stamp!" ~Carlton Ridenhour

        by mallyroyal on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:39:04 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  I don't get the uproar. This is essentially the (4+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    princss6, mallyroyal, mim5677, doroma

    basis of the criticism emanating from the Left.  It's a little more blatant, but its the same sentiment.

    "Because I am a river to my people."

    by lordcopper on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 09:57:21 AM PDT

    •  No one on the Left is saying Obama's skin color (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Colorado is the Shiznit

      is to blame for his decision making.  Where many might agree with some of the statements about Obama's weaknesses, I think you'd have a hard time finding that tied to his race anywhere but on sites like Freerepublic or the associated trolls.

      •  Cornel West saying he's more comfortable with (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        lordcopper, denig

        rich whites than anyone else because of his upbringing.  remember that?

        "I'm Black and I'm proud, I'm ready, I'm hype, plus I'm amped/ most of my heroes don't appear on no stamp!" ~Carlton Ridenhour

        by mallyroyal on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:21:47 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

      •  The Left is using every term and phrase available (0+ / 0-)

        to communicate that very sentiment, and yes, some here have used actual references to Pres. Obama's race in expressing disapproval with his administration.

        "Because I am a river to my people."

        by lordcopper on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 01:59:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Mr Hujer's oeuvre is opining on US political scene (0+ / 0-)

    Here is his take on the GJifford's shooting, and one Markos Moulitsas, for example

    Of all people, it is precisely those who have complained the loudest about the culture of debate -- about the rhetoric of the Tea Party, the right wing's harsh words and the baseless Obama-Hitler comparisons -- who are now poisoning the debate with their own baseless insinuations. With little reliance on facts, they began searching for scapegoats for the attack and they found them, selectively, among the right wing, the Tea Party, Republican Party boss Michael Steele and Tea Party heroine Sarah Palin.

    The accusations being lodged are grave. "Mission accomplished, Sarah Palin," leftist blogger Markos Moulitsas sneered after the bloodbath. Meanwhile, MSNBC commentator Keith Olbermann called for Palin to be ousted from the Republican Party if she didn't repudiate her role in "amplifying violence and violent imagery in politics."

    http://www.spiegel.de/...
  •  We defer entirely too much to European views.. (0+ / 0-)

    ...of our political life.  This is a good reminder that Europeans are quite capable of stupid and tendentious reductionism.

    I'll Rochambeau you for it.

    by Rich in PA on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:12:21 AM PDT

    •  We all read to much about this and that regarding (0+ / 0-)

      the psychological profile of President Obama and other people as well.  

      Why can't we leave it as another writer commenting his opinion about a person (President Obama) who is just that:  Another human being capable of many things from nefarious to excellence in thought and deed?  

      This is pretty much one person who happens to be of particular nationality via a publication from a particular country commenting his thoughts and should not be an across the board representation or a generality of a group of people/nationality who feel this way about Mr. Obama.

      This is a much to do about nothing, but go ahead and write.

      On another note:  Some commenter’s with their posts should watch what they write as their prejudices, and biases are showing a little bit as well....  

      "You can't always get what you want; but if you try sometimes...." - Rolling Stones

      by LamontCranston on Wed Aug 10, 2011 at 10:47:57 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

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