Friday, September 30, 2011

Dear Secretary of State Clinton: Don’t Believe the Hype You Can't Win in 2012

I've admired the grace which with you accepted the position as Secretary of State and the loyalty you've shown President Obama during your tenure as a Cabinet member. You've been supportive, knowledgeable and diplomatic and you should be applauded for your dedication.

You may have noticed some grumblings recently by talk show host Tavis Smiley  Princeton University Professor Cornel West, Congresswoman Maxine Waters, and a few others. Some are asserting that President Obama has lost support among Black voters and that he may be vulnerable to a primary challenge in 2012. Others including Dick Cheney and Rush Limbaugh appear to be encouraging you to consider challenging Obama in the primary. 

Please don't be duped by the hype of Smiley, West, Cheney, and Limbaugh. Challenging President Obama in 2012 would not only be an unsuccessful venture on your part, but you would become a pariah among black voters for decades to come.

Smiley and West have become a two-man tag team, or Gestapo squad, determined to publicly ridicule Obama at every possible opportunity, particularly on their bus tour in August to highlight Black poverty. In an    ABC Nightline interview  last month, the program's host explained Smiley's and West's frustration by describing Obama as the "man they helped get elected."

As you know, Secretary Clinton, the truth is that Smiley never supported Obama when he ran for election in 2008. He was a supporter of yours from the very beginning and, on election night, seemed to be the only black person in America who was not excited about Obama's victory.
Cornel West may have made some appearances on the campaign trail for Obama, but he is quick to point out that he made exactly 65 campaign appearances. When someone is a true supporter, he doesn't keep a running tally of things he's done for you.

Both Smiley and West say they are "old friends" of Obama and that "friends stab from the front" and not from behind. Frankly, friends, if they are genuine, don't stab you at all.

They act as though the President ushered in the problems of unemployment and poverty in the Black community, when these conditions have been present for decades. Yes, Blacks have been hit hard by the recession, as we are usually hit harder than other communities when the economy is bad, for a variety of complex reasons. But where was the Smiley/West bus tour during the eight years under President Bush, when poverty among African Americans was about 20 percent, and unemployment was twice as high for Blacks and it was for Whites?

And a recent Washington Post/ABC News poll showed that 86 percent of African Americans view the President favorably. Sure, that percentage is lower than it was when Obama first took office. But no politician's support could remain in the stratosphere forever.

So, Secretary Clinton, don't believe the hype. Please put your country first over your ambition to become its first female president. Maintain your dignity and stature by continuing to do an outstanding job representing the United States of America around the world.  More importantly, inform misguided fools and the world in not uncertain terms that you will not challenge President Obama in 2012.

Note:  The picture of Secretary Clinton was obtained from the U.S. Department of  State public domain photos.

Vera Richardson
Author of  Screwed by Former Governor and Attorney General Eliot Spitzer

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