I know I am a little tardy in writing about this but I have been preoccupied with the Supreme Courtâ€™s K-12 school diversity decision http://www.gather.com/viewArticle.jsp?articleId=281474977042151.
So I thought I might take a moment and muse about the recent All American Forum. First, it was nice to see all the black VIPs in the house (Gov. Patrick, Ruby Dee, Michael Eric Dyson, Al Sharpton, Cornel West, Harry Belafonte, Iyanla Vanzant, Terry McMillan, Victoria Rowell, etc). We so seldom get together for more than an awards show.
Second, I was really annoyed by how much time they spent on introductions and pleasantries. Did we really need to hear from Tom Joyner?Â The State of Black Americaforums spend at least the first hour and a half on introductions. We only have an hour and a half to hear from the candidates and there are 8 of them. I wish they could just get to the questions!
Now I didnâ€™t expect real answers to all the questions but I did expect great sound bites on the question of whether or not race is the most intractable problem. I was really disappointed that no one took this slow pitch. I guess Obama couldnâ€™t (he was only offering his cross-over play list). He did hit one soulful note when he gave real props to Howard University and noted that this was where Thurgood Marshall et all built the winning arguments in Brown v Board.
Not for nothing, but Dennis Kucinich and Mike Gravel were welcomed additions to the Stepford candidates. Kucinich: â€œThey say pull yourself up by your bootstrapsâ€¦and then they steal your boots.â€ Mike Gravel spoke the truth on the war on black people aka the war on drugs.
I had such high hopes for Gov. Richardson but he seems incapable of making it through a debate, forum or speech without some linguistic guffaw. What was with the meltdown on the HIV/AIDS question? I am sure he was advocating expansion of needle exchange programs which was frankly one of the most direct answers in the groupâ€”since the question was about prevention. Richardson was flat all night, and made a number of glaring mistakes.
As on point as Sen. Clintonâ€™s observation was it offer nothing in the way of a solution to a vexing and expanding challenge. However, I thought her overall performance during the debate was nearly flawless. She had it all, a perfect blend of style and substance, and the only person in the place that matched Kucinich in working the audience. On every question, even the ones that weren't her best, she was presidential, knowledgeable, and unique. She stole everyone's thunder nearly every time. If she came early in a question, everyone was playing catch up, if she came late, she blew those who went before her out of the water. On Darfur, she yanked the rug right out from under Biden, who's particularly strong on the subject, by preceding him with a detailed and specific plan powerfully delivered. Biden tried to play catch up, but sounded second rate following Hillary. Once again the good Senator proved that experience matters.
Sen. Edwards seemed the most ready for the question on AIDS. I think Sen. Edwards needs to get off the anecdotal. He should stop telling us about his childhood and his poor mill worker fatherâ€”that was a long time ago and coming from a $400 haircut guy (I am not hatingâ€”just wish I was his stylist) it seems malipuative. He's strong and unique on policy, and he needs to put his focus back on that. Also, he needs to find some of that charisma that aided him so well in 2004. I seen him turn it onâ€”he needs to find the switch.
Senator Obama had the most emotional response and gave the only gay-related comment on the evening. Â Yet he too was often times flat, and unfortunately his worst answer of the night was the last one on Darfur. After making it through the night with essentially no major hiccups or uncomfortable pauses, Darfur had the Senator gasping for air. He also missed an opportunity to show he is strong on foreign policy and national security, two areas that he desperately needs to shore up if he wants to make a go of it down the stretch.
Speaking of gay, why no talk of hate crimes legislation, whatâ€™s up that no one asked about gay rights? Oh thatâ€™s right this was a black forum â€¦black gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people being beaten and killed or loosing our jobs because of animus and prejudice isnâ€™t a black issue. Maybe gay people will get some face time during the Republican debate.Â