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The problem with many on the left who are already criticizing Barack Obama's cabinet appointments is that they're neither as smart nor as creative as he is. As Barack so deftly pointed out in his interview with Barbara Walters--regardless to who he appoints to his cabinet, he's the president, and he will set policy.
Think about it. Who better to draw down the troops than a hawk? Obama is a student of history. He realizes that it took Nixon to approach the Chinese, had a liberal president attempted it the conservatives would have staged a march on Washington to call him a Communist. The same is true in other areas. It took a Southerner, President Lyndon Johnson, to broach the subject of civil rights effectively, just as it took Reagan to approach the Soviet Union.
President-elect Obama is looking for talent, experience, and brains--he'll handle the direction of national policy. One of the major criticisms against him during the election was that he lacked experience. He assured America that he would use good, sound judgment to offset any shortcomings that he might have in that area, and that's exactly what he's doing.
How is he going to find experience in the Democratic Party without drawing from the Clinton administration? And further, by appointing Hillary Clinton as Secretary of State, whether we want to acknowledge it or not, we also get Bill. Thus, when that phone rings at 3:00 a.m. In the morning, it'll be answered by a very formidable President Obama, who will undoubtedly be firmly in control. But in essence, there'll be two presidents on the line, along with an extremely no-nonsense Secretary of State-and our enemies will know that.
Americans will have two challenges to adapt to with a President Barack Obama. They'll not only have to get use to a Black face in the White House, but also a Black way of thinking. I know it's not politically correct to acknowledge that there are differences between us, but the fact is, there are. While no one group is any better than another, we tend to excel in different areas of knowledge. I call it sociological niches. It is true that Jews tend to excel as merchants and in business; it is true that Asians tend to excel in math; and it is undeniably true that Blacks tend to excel in creativity. Let me make it clear, however, that my position is not that these talents are innate in any way, but rather, due to cultural focus--or what a given culture view as important to their way of life.
What makes this point so significant is that Obama has already started to demonstrate to America, and the Black community, that the creativity that the Black community has nurtured over the centuries, has distributive properties. In other words, that very same creativity that goes into making a Charlie Parker, an Aretha Franklin, or a Ray Charles, is just as effective in excelling in other disciplines far beyond the scope of music.
As I mentioned above, we've already seen many characteristics of the Black community at work during the election, and ironically, they contributed greatly to Obama being elected. One example, is Obama's ability to remain cool under fire. That comes directly from the fact that part of being Black in the country has made it necessary for Black people to become comfortable in dealing with adversity. Adversity is no stranger to us. That explains why during height of the Great Depression when many on Wall Street were jumping out of windows, the Black community was in the midst of the Harlem Renaissance. It was better than business as usual-we never had better time. "Depression, what depression? I was broke before it started-now I got company." While it was like the end of the world for White people when they couldn't pay their rent, Black people would just throw a "rent party."
What brought this to mind is the fact that the current economic downturn has had a serious impact on me personally. My son and daughter are so worried about me that they're about to have a nervous breakdown. They're calling me and e-mailing me everyday. I think what makes them so nervous is that I seem to be so laid-back about it, and they can't understand it. But the fact is, they see adversity through the eyes of White folks, because they've never known it--my late wife and I managed to shield them from it. But I've been there before, so I know the importance keeping a clear head while I work to resolve the issue.
That's the kind of thinking that we saw in Obama during the campaign. When the economic crisis first broke, McCain was suspending his campaign, running to Washington, making contradictory statements, and generally, flopping around like a chicken with his head cut off. That's what caused him to lose the campaign. On the other hand, Obama remained calm and began to gather and consult the very experts in economics that we not see in his cabinet. He made sure that he had some idea of what he was talking about before he made a statement. And he also had the foresight to start quietly building his cabinet.
So what we have in Obama is a man who's fully acquainted with adversity--and there is nothing more impressive than a person who's been dragged through the pits of Hell, as I'm sure that he has, and then come out the other side as a well rounded and highly educated individual. He had to obtain a Ph.D. in problem solving and perseverance on the fly, even before his higher education began. Then when you add the creativity, that is a trademark of the Black community, you're left with a very formidable individual indeed.
So Obama's critics on the left need to get use to a new way of thinking. Because again, I predict both America, and the Black community, is about to get a lesson in the many varied uses of creativity. The world didn't call Ray Charles a genius for nothing-and just like Ray, Barack Obama's thinking two bars ahead of the band.
"So what we about to do now, ladies and gentlemen, is Geo-Global Politics-In B Flat."
"Uh, count it off, Fathead."
Eric L. Wattree can be reached at wattree.blogspot.com