Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Sorry Chris Matthews, Mitt Romney has had Quite a Few "Sister Souljah" Moments Already

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I am a fan of Chris Matthews. He is one of the few people in the mainstream media who has had the courage to call out Mitt Romney's racist campaign against Barack Obama. While he was a few months late doing so, and yes, I wish Matthews had acknowledged folks like myself and others who have long been speaking truth to power about Romney's racism.

I remain a supporter of his "real talk" approach to political analysis and calling out Romney's post-truth campaign of lies.

However, on Tuesday's edition of Hardball, Matthews simply dropped the ball. It happens to all of us.

While making a direct intervention about Romney's troubled relationship with the truth, Matthews highlighted how the Republican candidate lacked any evidence of character, of a defining moment where the Republican candidate communicated to the public what he really stood for, and the type of man he really is.

Matthews cited examples of true grit by other presidents in order to make this point by comparison.

Problematically, one of those examples included (then candidate) Clinton's "Sister Souljah" moment, when before he became a living legend and supposed friend of black people, the former President called out a mid to low tier black rap artist of middling fame and importance, in order to sure up his bonafides with Reagan Democrats and white independents. Clinton was a "new Democrat." As such, Clinton had to demonstrate how he was not a "liberal." Condemning black people was a convenient means to that end.

Sister Souljah was a stand-in for the mythic welfare queen and "troublesome" complaining black people who had suckled too long on the government tit. Clinton won the presidency, and the support of white voters in 1992, in no small part by mining white racial resentment, and playing on the white racial frame.

In alluding to that example, Chris Matthews made a clear error: appeals to white racial resentment, and "putting the blacks in their place," are not a sign of weakness for white candidate. Rather, they are a way for white candidates to demonstrate character and strength to the white public.

As such, Mitt Romney has had many such "Sister Souljah moments." When the Republican candidate speaks to the NAACP and tells them to their face that they are parasites and he will do nothing for them, or when Romney and his surrogates say that the country's first black president as a lazy welfare king, white people's money stealing, lazy incompetent bum, he has far surpassed Bill Clinton's signifying on Sister Souljah.

The ultimate point of Clinton's mention of Sister Souljah--and what Matthews forgot--was to demonstrate how black people are anti-citizens who need to be disciplined. White people could trust Clinton to do so. Romney's whole campaign is similarly oriented: he will keep the "uppity blacks" like Obama, and those inspired by him in their place; Romney is no friend to the colored or darker races--this is why so many white voters are flocking (against their economic self-interest) to support the Republican candidate.

American society is sick with racism. We all inhale and breathe it in. Consequently, even when they are speaking the truth, and their hearts are in the right place, pundits like Chris Matthews can make an honest mistake and use ill-fitting, improper examples to make a compelling point about Mitt Romney's cowardice.

Matthews' error was not fatal. But, it was a healthy reminder of how the white racial frame operates across both sides of the political divide.


Bruto Alto said...


Hopefully you saw Mike Huck's ad. The woman in what could be taken as a judge robe. The fire, the blue collar aged white guy working the steel. The underline tone that O.B. is somehow against God.

chaunceydevega said...

@Bruto. Maybe he should get pastor manning to do a follow-up?

nomad said...

Right. I mean Wright. What presidential candidate is not without his Sistah Souljah moment? Most however don't extend them into their presidency. "Put yo marching shoes on, you whining negroes."

chaunceydevega said...

@Nomad. there you go.

CNu said...

"Put yo marching shoes on, you whining negroes."


Anonymous said...


But Clinton's the first black president. I remember Sistah Soulja. It annoyed me every time I heard someone say that Arkansas redneck was black. I'm glad you pointed out that Bill didn't take a chance that day. One doesn't risk much by publicly disrespecting blacks.

makheru bradley said...

If Obama loses I expect to see Chris Matthews inciting Obama's MSNBC shills into a white liberal riot.

nomad said...

Strange, strange, strange, strange world now. My peeps keep asking me if I'm going to vote. It's assumed that if I do vote, I'll vote for Obama. It's a no brainer. The only other alternative is Romney and he is blatantly anti-social programs and implicitly anti-black. If I were the mainstream news fed lemming I was in 2008, I probably wouldn't think twice about voting for Obama. But I'm not. In the past 4 years of being on the internet I have educated myself. I have discovered some deeper darker currents controlling world events. In a word, an evil force of some sort. An evil intent. Evil masquerading --as something else. My peeps tell me how hard it's going to be for us if Romney becomes president. And sure they're right. Romney is a monster. But Obama is a monster in disguise. We've had terrible presidents before, with regard to their domestic and foreign policies. In general they have been getting progressively worse since Johnson. And while the behavior of these presidents has frequently been reprehensible, as a black American I never felt any responsibility for it. I was as much a victim of the United States government as any third world or Arab nation they decided to abuse. All I could ever do was vote against the party that meant me the most harm. In all my years of voting there is only one serving president that I ever actually voted for, Carter. Every other time I was voting against the de facto party of racists, otherwise known as the GOP. This time around it's a little different. This time the president wears my face. This time, because he is taken superficially as a representative of black America, he represents me, in a way that no other president has before. He doesn't really, since he was raised in the household of a white banker and probably, mentored, indoctrinated, brainwashed or virtually created by the CIA. Nevertheless, massive psy op or not, Barack Obama has gotten black people and white liberals to endorse what are essentially the policies of George Bush. The lesser evil is no longer lesser. And it is wearing my face. It has challenged me directly. I have to say no. The Obama doctrine is beyond the pale. I cannot endorse it.

nomad said...

the behavior of these presidents has frequently been reprehensible. That got me to thinking: Who's the worst president in history? Luckily Greenwald was thinking the same thing.

"If one were simply to consider specific acts which constituted grave assaults on civil liberties - narrowly defined as the core political rights explicitly protected by the Bill of Rights: free speech, freedom from deprivation of life and liberty without due process, etc. - one could make a strong argument for several presidents. John Adams signed The Alien and Sedition Acts, which essentially criminalized certain forms of government criticism in preparation for a war with France, a radical assault on the First Amendment.

Abraham Lincoln illegally suspended the core liberty of habeas corpus without Congressional approval. Wilson's attacks on basic free speech in the name of national security were indeed legion and probably unparalleled. Franklin Roosevelt oversaw the due-process-free internment of more than 100,000 law-abiding Japanese-Americans into concentration camps.

And then there are the two War on Terror presidents. George Bush seized on the 9/11 attack to usher in radical new surveillance and detention powers in the PATRIOT ACT, spied for years on the communications of US citizens without the warrants required by law, and claimed the power to indefinitely imprison even US citizens without charges in military brigs.

His successor, Barack Obama, went further by claiming the power not merely to detain citizens without judicial review but to assassinate them (about which the New York Times said: "It is extremely rare, if not unprecedented, for an American to be approved for targeted killing"). He has waged an unprecedented war on whistleblowers, dusting off Wilson's Espionage Act of 1917 to prosecute more then double the number of whistleblowers than all prior presidents combined. And he has draped his actions with at least as much secrecy, if not more so, than any president in US history."

nomad said...

"If he loses, the irony is that Obama may be freed as a living legend to pursue the causes he most cares about"
Gee, I wish I knew what those were?