Friday, April 18, 2008

No permanent friends, no permanent enemies...

“No permanent friends, no permanent enemies, just permanent issues.”-- Rev. Al Sharpton
I heard the reverend say this during one of his last broadcasts on what was Miami's only Black talk-radio station, WTPS-1080AM (Radio One sold WTPS to Salem Communications Corp. for approximately $12.25 million in late 2007. It's now Christian talk-radio.). I remember immediately writing in my Things to Blog About file, "more like, just permanent - opportunistic issues!" (I've got to check out the National Action Network's site to try and ascertain membership growth !).

Early in the primary race, the tenor of his show as it related to politics was surely not pro-Obama. His tone was notably different when, during her segment on his show, Jeri L. Wright, publisher of Trumpet Magazine and Rev. Wright's daughter, expressed her concern about Sen. Obama ceding to his handlers on the issue of having Rev. Wright speak at his coming out party on the Old State Capitol steps in Illinois. There were even rumblings that the reverend was jealous of the senator, particularly after he discussed Sen. Obama’s endorsement of Richard M. Daley for mayor with guests, Dorothy Brown and William "Dock" Walls, the two Black candidates who also ran for mayor last year. But that was before Sen. Obama started looking like he could win this thing.

He invited the three remaining Democratic candidates to come on his show via telephone to discuss issues. The last candidate was to be Sen. Obama, but he wasn't available, but Mrs. Obama filled in. After that call, I noticed a slow but sure turnaround in Rev. Al. Though he didn't say it then, I knew he'd soon be throwing his support behind Sen. Obama. He did. I’ll venture a guess the senator and Rev. Sharpton are not and never have been "friends" - at least he’s honest about that part.

The reverend falls into the same category as those Daley boys in Chicago. In December 2006, William M. Daley (former Secretary of Commerce in the Clinton Cabinet and adviser to the Gore campaign) became an advisor to the Obama campaign. The next week, Hizzoner himself (well, the son of THE Hizzoner - same difference), six-term Mayor Richard M. Daley, threw his support behind the senator's campaign as well (quid pro quo?). In this article, "Daley Machine Backs Obama," writers Jim Davis and Tom Squitieri clearly laid out how beneficial it can be to have opportunistic issues in common. Politics makes strange bedfellows and the history of the Daley Machine (this post by Skeptical Brotha gives a short, but telling account) bears that out.

September 7, 2007 brought yet another opportunistic endorsement for the senator from Illinois - Former Denver Mayor Federico Peña (also former Secretary of Transportation and Secretary of Energy in the Clinton Cabinet as well as a "friend" of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson). With that endorsement came the announcement that he'd also be co-chair of the senator's national campaign.

The recent endorsements from former senators Sam Nunn of Georgia and David Boren of Oklahoma are just more opportunism. Though they both bring extensive records on foreign policy and national security and are from states where Republicans historically dominate - as is usual in politics - their endorsements didn't come without some quid pro quo. Both will be serving as advisers on the senator's national security foreign policy team.

As for the Richardson endorsement, I'll just say, with "friends" like these, Sen. Clinton needs no enemies (Do you hear the O'Jays singing, "They smile in your face, all the time they wanna take your place..."?). And before you jump up and down, NO – friendship does not equal endorsement. But endorsement sure does seem to equal opportunity. In an April 12th interview with the Seattle Times, when asked if there was ever any talk of the vice presidency, or any other job, in an Obama administration, the governor's response was very telling - "I never say never in politics, but I'm not pining for it." According to the writer, the governor also suggested, he would not settle for just any Cabinet post, having served before. You be the judge.

I'd like to remind the governor of his reaction to his "friend," Federico Peña endorsing Sen. Obama before he was even out of the race. It might just help him understand why his "dear friends," one of whom for which his wife "has great affection," would be a little warm. And Robert Reich? Please! You would think that if your "friends" of 40 years were doing things which, according to Reich, his conscience wouldn't let him be silent any longer, he'd tell the friends - first!

Let’s be clear, as much as I talk about, think about and write about the necessity of real change - it is never, ever done in a vacuum. I understand how things are done in this country, from the bottom to the top. I know there is w-a-a-ay more, "What's in it for me?" than there is pure altruism or doing the right thing. Trust me, I get that. But somewhere in the midst of all the glad-handing, backroom dealing, false promises and the greasing of palms, it's hard to believe that actual, long lasting "friendships" can turn on a mere difference of issues. But I guess that's just me.

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