Dr. Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., yesterday began a series on the second coming of Barack Obama. He flashed back to 2008 and a United States of America that was about to have it’s first black president. Four years after, and with the world waiting, Okpaku continues today on “Obama: The Second Time Around.”
Unwilling (truly not unable) to fight dirty, Barack Obama would come out looking weak before an American public whose love of the sport of gladiators underpins the popularity of boxing and the visceral fascination with the violent body knocks of their most favourite sports, American football.
But there was also a not unimportant reason for extraordinary caution on Barack Obama’s side. This was a very deep and painful aspect of the American legacy of slavery and racism—the lynching of Black men.
Similar to the killing and literal roasting of Black men by whites while having a barbecue (or “brie” as South Africans call it) in apartheid South Africa, the lynching of Black men in America, the most horrendous of human “sports”, occupies a grave spot in the African American psyche, even for those who never witnessed it. (The lynching scenes in The Great Debaters starring Denzel Washington represent a vivid portrayal of this atrocity of human history.)
Now, the most common trumped up charge for lynching Black men especially in the American south was the almost always false accusation that they raped white women or looked at them with the intent to do so.
More often than not these were either totally fabricated or, in fact, were false accusation made by white women whose reckless overtures to Black men were spurned by the Black men who knew only too well that this would be a kiss of death. So humiliated, the white women often claimed that such Black men made sexual overtures to them.
So, although perhaps not much talked about in the open or publicly articulated, but actively discussed amongst themselves during the 2008 primary season, many Black men and women who had quickly grown upset with what they saw as the racial slur by the Clintons in the quite possibly inadvertent remarks during the New Hampshire primaries, saw Hillary Clinton’s unmitigated assault on Barack Obama as the antics of a white woman baiting a Black man so as to provoke the wrath and disaffection of white men. And much as they wanted their Black man to stand up and fight for Black pride, they too were leery of the consequences, especially now that victory, unthinkable victory, seemed possible, even palpable.
But after the first debate and the loud public proclamation that Hilary Clinton had rubbished Barack Obama, the young Senator from Illinois had no choice but pull off his gloves in the subsequent debate, making it clear that all bets were off.
Barack Obama would go on to defeat Senator Clinton and become the presidential candidate of the Democratic Par5ty.
Hilary Clinton and her husband, Bill Clinton would regain their political composure and stand firmly and graciously behind Barack Obama in the presidential race against Republican John McCain, restoring their place of pride with Black Americans, other minorities, females and young Americans of all races.
The outcome of the battles of 2008 is now history. It is alleged to have been said by a white American that “hell (would) freeze over before a Black man would become President in America.”
It was most prophetic. On the morning of Tuesday, January 20, 2009, as many gathered on the Capitol Mall in Washington D.C., it was one of the coldest days ever. Text messages reminding people of this infamous quotation went viral amongst those gathered on the Mall and clear across the country.
It was a wonderful moment in history, and even if it took an extra layer of warm clothing to take part in the joyous ceremonies and watch Barack Obama, our African son, take the oath of office as America’s 44th president, it was such a little price to pay.
President Barack Obama would take office and immediately set about preventing the embattled American economy from bottoming out. Mrs. Clinton would go on to become Obama’s most senior cabinet member as the Secretary of State, effectively the Foreign Minister, a role which she has handled with exceptional excellence, wisdom, judgment and loyalty.
The Obama Legacy (2008 – 2012)
President Obama, deploying his intellectual forte that is universally acknowledged to be one of the best amongst world leaders, had to make difficult choices faced with an economy gone awry. There were no panaceas. In such circumstances, strategic long-term solutions would take precedence over the expediency of immediate gratification, especially of the sort that would be politically popular even if ineffectual or unsustainable.
But he had the faith, good will and the confidence of the American people on his side—of most of them, that is. Most dramatically, he turned around the auto industry, the flagship of America’s industrial power.
He also saved the banking industry, and Wall Street. But this time he would take flack from two opposite sides: The young Americans who would rather see him “suck it” to the financial institutions that they considered greedy if not roguish, and the conservative bankers and prime beneficiaries of the American dream who took exception to the strict regulations that the President put in place to prevent a repeat of the excesses that led to the crisis in the first place, most especially the collapse of the housing industry.
Employment was a much tougher challenge. The excesses of the preceding Republican government of George W. Bush which led to the near collapse of the economy led to massive layoffs as businesses big and small cut back to save themselves. This would devastate especially the middle class, the mainstay of the American economy and society as a whole.
Realising that American industry was slowly becoming obsolete and, therefore, likely to be less competitive in a tougher global economy, Obama decided to put in place the structure and mechanism for modernizing American industry with the objective of creating many new jobs in new areas such as clean and alternative energy (including solar and wind energy), broadband communications and overall research and development.
Again, these are initiatives with a gestation period during which the promise of their efficacy would remain dormant. In an economy that was hurting and reeling from unprecedented unemployment, this was a risky path to take. But there did not seem to be an alternative.
On the global scene, Obama would take bold steps to withdraw American forces from Iraq, and set in place, the mechanism and schedule for winding down the war in Afghanistan. He would hunt down and kill Osama bin Laden, the Enemy Number One of Americans.
This was a feat that Obama would have thought could not but bring him limitless accolades. Obama would even give a major speech in Cairo on the new world that would accommodate all peoples and religions, especially Christians and Moslems.
The promise, not its realisation, would be sufficient to earn him the Nobel Peace Price. But not all Americans seemed happy about the global popularity of this young, smart American president with a gorgeous and super smart wife and two lovely and adorable daughters.
The Republican Party, or at least an important section of it, was not pleased. Somehow, placing misguided partisanship before national interests, some of its leaders would vow to spare no effort to ensure that Obama did not succeed as president.
Dr. Joseph O. Okpaku, Sr., President and Publisher of Third Press Publishers and Chairman of Telecom Africa International Corporation, is a renowned scholar and expert of strategic development and global issues. He is regarded as a Renaissance man and a leading 21st Century philosopher