I’ll give Obama credit. It took him less than a day to issue a statement on his association with Donnie McClurkin.
In a statement, Obama said he believes gays and lesbians are “our brothers and sisters” and should be afforded the same respect, dignity and rights granted all other citizens.
“I have consistently spoken directly to African-American religious leaders about the need to overcome the homophobia that persists in some parts our community so that we can confront issues like HIV/AIDS and broaden the reach of equal rights in this country,” Obama said. “I strongly believe that African Americans and the LGBT community must stand together in the fight for equal rights. And so I strongly disagree with Reverend McClurkin’s views and will continue to fight for these rights as president of the United States to ensure that America is a country that spreads tolerance instead of division.”
The statement did not say whether McClurkin will still perform on the tour.
Well, there are a couple of things to be said about this.
This sounds a lot like trying to eat your cake and have it too. (I never understood the phrase when I heard it stated the other way around. I always thought “Well, you have to have your cake in order to eat it. You can’t eat it if you don’t have it.) Obama is trying, and most likely unsuccessfully, to reconcile two incompatible situations, because he believes it will benefit him.
One gay activist involved with the Obama campaign said the situation puts the candidate in a bind, since he risks offending evangelicals in South Carolina if he cancels McClurkin’s appearance but could alienate gay supporters if the performance proceeds as planned.
“This story is quickly turning into a disaster for Barack,” said the supporter who is active on gay and lesbian issues. “He’s screwed if he goes through with the trip with Donnie McClurkin….But he’s also screwed in South Carolina if he dumps McClurkin. I hope that the staffer who set this up has already been fired.”
There’s something in Obama’s statement that’s clear if you read between the lines, but first you have to have right context, which Earl Ofari Hutchison sums up pretty well.
…Desperate to snatch back some of the political ground with black voters that are slipping away from him and to Hillary; Bush’s black evangelical card seems like the perfect play. Obama wouldn’t dare go down the knock gay path, and risk drawing the inevitable heat for it, if he didn’t think as Bush that anti-gay sentiment is still wide and deep among many blacks.
And that’s what makes Obama’s ala Bush pander to anti-gay mania even more shameless and reprehensible. From the moment that he tossed his hat in the presidential ring, Obama has done everything he could to sell himself to voters, as the Man on the White Horse, a fresh new face on the scene, with new ideas, and the candidate that’s not afraid to boldly challenge Bush and the GOP on everything from the Iraq war to health care.
He’s also sold himself as a healer and consensus builder. Legions have bought his pitch, and have shelled out millions to bankroll his campaign. But healing and consensus building does not mean sucking up to someone that publicly boasts that he’s in “a war” against gays, and that the aim of his war is to “cure” them. That’s what McClurkin has said. Polls show that more Americans than ever say that they support civil rights for gays, and a torrent of gay themed TV shows present non-stereotypical depictions of gays. But this increased tolerance has not dissipated the hostility that far too many blacks, especially hard core Bible thumping blacks, feel toward gays.
Ofari’s column was, of course, written before Obama’s statement. Reading the latter in the context of the former makes one thing clear. If McClurkin stays on the tour — and he has to stay on the tour if Obama doesn’t want to risk the ire of black and evangelical voters — then Obama has made his choice, and his choice is the McClurkins of the world.
How he can reconcile that with a “standing together for equal rights” and a belief that gays and lesbians should be “afforded the same respect and dignity” as every other citizen is beyond me. How he thinks the McClurkin’s of the world will allow his to advocate for equal rights and still have their support and the power it can potentially give him, is beyond me. How he managed to get into this situation, without anyone on his campaign realizing the shit-storm that would ensue –and that it would be easier to not include McClurkin from the beginning than to uninvite him after the fact — is beyond me.
How, having made this choice, he can continue to call himself a “healer” or a “uniter” is beyond me, unless he is a “uniter” in the same league as George W. Bush and merely wears a different uniform, is beyond me. But then again, perhaps I am the only one who sees a fine line between optimism and naivete.
There’s almost no real way to have your cake and eat it too, or eat your came and have it too. Except for one. All I’ll say on the matter is that the recipe for a shit sandwich is basically the same. But just because you put crap between to pieces of bread doesn’t make it a sandwich. And just because you put icing and a candle on it doesn’t make it cake, and doesn’t mean you should expect me to eat it.
But there ya go. This is one of our Democratic front runners. We’ve got another one who thinks that only PART of DOMA needs to be repealed, and the best the other one can do is trot his wife out to voice sentiments that sound good but have no bearing on his positions as a candidate or policies should he actually take office.
And the other candidates, the only ones who support full equality are not “serious,” not “viable,” and not “electable.” Meanwhile we have netrootser who can only say in response to Obama’s statement with relief, because now they can get back to the real, important issues of the day.
So be it. Wake me up when the primaries are over.
On the other hand, don’t. I’ll vote absentee just so I can stay in bed on election day.