Thursday, November 19, 2015

Two Black Leaders We've Stupidly Thrown Under The Bus!

Sec. of State Condoleezza Rice arriving in Kabul, Afghanistan, 2006 | Photo credit: White House
In my home office back in NY, I had a number of posters on my wall. Most were of ideas or people who inspired and motivated me; you know, pithy quotes like "Teach, don't preach" and "Carpe diem!" At the time, I only had two people whose activities and accomplishments in the political arena prompted my honoring them on my wall of fame, positioned prominently just above my desk. Two posters that I looked at every day just before I sat down to write; two people who informed me in no uncertain terms, that anything was possible in America. ANYTHING! (Mind you, this was back when Obama was merely that black comer / state senator who hadn't even given an electrifying speech at the 2004 democratic convention yet,) My friends would come by, see these two pin-ups on the wall and be like, "Bruh, you got issues!" And, though, (with the exception of Bloomberg's first run for mayor in NYC; yes, I confess, I voted for him) I have only voted democratic til this point in my life, and hold on to mostly liberal values, these two people retain primarily conservative values and are top-tier members of the Republican Party. They've both impressed me, big time. And, still do! They taught me, by example, to be open to the possibilities and nuances, something that comes in handy quite often as a writer. They were part of the reason I cut Dubbya some slack in the dark days after he was appointed president by the supreme court. Until 9-11, I gave him plenty of latitude. He'd earned it with the appointments of these two heroes of mine, and reminded me that politics were not as black and white as they appeared, literally. Neither of these history making black people need any introduction. But before I go any further, being that I suspect most of my readers are left-leaning (and I could be wrong about that) I think I need to make a disclaimer:
I do not approve of all of the actions taken by these two I did not approve of a number of things Obama, Clinton, Carter, or even RFK and JFK did. America's leaders are people and people come in many flavors. And by no means do I believe Republicans/Conservatives are contemptible by virtue of party affiliation. Nor are Liberals/Democrats commendable due to their party ties. PS: The Tea party is pure evil, though. Period. That is all. OK, that said, firstly, there is Dr. Condoleezza Rice. Or as she is known, and how I affectionately think of her, The Warrior Princess.

Rice's résumé is a freak show! Here are some highlights: *By age 19, she received her first degree in Political Science from the University of Denver. *She earned her Master’s degree from the University of Notre Dame in 1975 and her Doctorate degree in 1981 from the University of Denver. She also has a doctorate in International Studies, which involved language training. *She is an accomplished concert-level pianist, mastering a handful of pieces and giving her first piano recital at age 4. She accompanied cellist Yo-yo Ma, playing a duet at Constitution Hall in April 2002 for the National Medal of Arts Awards. *In 1977, Rice worked in the Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs under the Carter administration. *She was a political science professor at Stanford University where she served as Provost from 1993 to 1999. There, she won two of the highest teaching honors and was a member of the Center for International Security and Arms Control and a Senior Fellow of the Institute for International Studies. *Her published works include the books Germany Unified and Europe Transformed (1995) with Philip Zelikow, The Gorbachev Era (1986) with Alexander Dallin, and Uncertain Allegiance: The Soviet Union and the Czechoslovak Army (1984), and numerous articles on Soviet and East European foreign and defense policy. *Rice is an articulate diplomat, speaking fluent Russian, French, and Spanish. *From 1991 through 2001, she was director of the Chevron Corporation, one of the world’s largest and most powerful oil companies. *In 2000, Rice was named National Security Advisor and stepped down from her position at Stanford. She was the first woman ever to occupy the post. *Rice served as the 66th US Secretary of State, and was the second in Pres. George W. Bush’s administration to hold the office. Rice was the first black woman, the second African-American (after Colin Powell), and the second woman (after Madeleine Albright) to serve as Secretary of State. 120605_condoleezza-rice+4x3_photoblog600 I have to admit though, I really didn't know who the hell she was before she became National Security Advisor for Bush. Far as I was concerned (and I considered myself fairly politically aware) she just came out of nowhere. My first reaction to her appointment was, "Oh, this motherfucker is planning ahead! Bush can't let his re-election hinge on his brother's political machine in Florida and hanging chads again, and the Supreme court may not be able to bail him out next time. He's gonna build up the republican constituency with black/female votes!" SMFH! Back in them days, Sunday was my favorite day of the week, and Sunday mornings my favorite time. Why? Because my two favorite programs aired then: they were Gil Noble's Like it is and Tim Russert's Meet The Press. I'll get into Gil Noble another time, but Tim... Sigh... Tim Russert was without a doubt the best thing that ever happened to news reporting ever. Ever ever EVER! I watched him for years, his fearless enthusiasm, his bottomless well of knowledge, impeccable memory, insightful questioning, and I swear he never softballed anyone until his Dubbya interview post 9/11 (and that broke my heart, but I know the pressure he was under must've been incredible...) Everyone in elected office, in the political game, on the international political scene, KNEW if they were coming on Meet The Press they had best bring their A-game, or call in sick. So, the administrations only sent the best and brightest and people that weren't going to make fools of themselves and their party. I mean, Meet the Press was the consummate news program! Ted Koppel's Nightline ran a very close second because he was bringing the noize -- and by noize I mean hardcore truth-telling--every week night (until that "shock and awe" disaster when he decided to be part of the "embedded press" and found himself the next morning in bed with Bush beside him) while Tim Russert had a whole week to prepare for each guest. I remember the first time they teased he was going to have Condi Rice on the show...I couldn't even sleep the night before. I knew that through Tim I would learn what she was about. Even the artful dodgers / masterfully duplicitous sorts that came on his show, like Dick Cheney for example, by the end of the interview it would be revealed that Cheney was just that, a master of the game. Due to Tim's superior skills, you pretty much knew when the subject was being artful, when they were flat-out lying, and when they were truth-telling because MTP_Tim%20Russert_Obit2_ss_hthey'd been manipulated by the brilliance of the man questioning them. Oh yeah, I knew I would get to know Condi through Tim. And it didn't disappoint at all. She was every bit the savvy political player she'd have to be for her position as National Security Advisor. (I searched YouTube for a clip to show you guys but can't find a damn thing!) And she would return to the show many times over her career in the White House for she was a great mind, gifted speaker and not hard on the eyes nor ears (yes I have a little crush on her) and you could tell that Russert just loved dueling with a pro, and so did she. Two pros at work, with jobs to do...hers to spin Bush's constant fuck-ups and his to squeeze truth out of a rock and /or get her to show, just a little, how distasteful she found the necessity of having to defend an imbecile, and so often, and so well! It was just beauitiful; heaven for a political junkie like me. Russert was a National Treasure. I miss him so... On her becoming the Secretary of State, Condi once said: "...A little girl grows up in Jim Crow Birmingham – the most segregated big city in America. Her parents can’t take her to a movie theater or a restaurant, but they make her believe that even though she can’t have a hamburger at the Woolworth’s lunch counter, she can be President of the United States. And she becomes the Secretary of State!” ''I do not believe it has limited who I am or what I can become. And that's because I had parents who, while telling me what it meant to be African-American and exposing me to that, also allowed me to develop as an individual to be who I wanted to be.'' powell rice ''We don't talk about it very much, but, yes ... it is a very good thing for the rest of the world that when Colin Powell and I walk in with the president of the United States, we are there as secretary of state and national security adviser, because I think it says to people that there aren't boundaries in which black Americans are not supposed to play ... I think it's an extremely important message to our kids. That's why I talk so much about the individual. It's not to deny the group, but I really think it's important that we appeal to each individual's worth and capability.'' ''The fact of the matter is, race matters in America. It always has ... It is not that I mind being associated with the group. I am African-American and proud of it. I wouldn't have it any other way. And it has shaped who I am and it will continue to shape who I am." Here's a clip of Condi talking about Race. ...and on Obama's victory Class act through and through! Rice once said on race in America, ''It wasn't as if someone said, 'You have to be twice as good' and 'isn't that a pity' or 'isn't that wrong.' It was just, 'You have to be twice as good.''' You don't have to like this warrior princess' politics to appreciate how being twice as good made her one of the most powerful woman in the history of western civilization.
Which brings us to the former most powerful black man in the world...the man whose poster adorned my wall long before Condi's for I have been a big admirer of his since the Clinton administration. In fact, truth be told (yet another confession), I admire this man so much that if he and a suitable running mate like, let's play fantasy politics a sec and say Condi Rice, had run against Obama in the 2008 election for president instead of that teetering old man and the Alaskan twit, I might have been strongly tempted to vote Republican. Hell, I think even Obama would have been tempted. colin-powell-barack-obama-endorsement Colin Powell once said, “If you are going to achieve excellence in big things, you develop the habit in little matters. Excellence is not an exception, it is a prevailing attitude.” And that's just what he's done over the course of his amazing life. He has excelled at virtually everything he's attempted. Sometimes the results may not meet the approval of the more liberal among us but the man is not a half-asser. He's an American statesman and a retired four-star general in the United States Army. He's served as National Security Advisor, as Commander of the U.S. Army Forces Command, and as Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, holding the latter position during the Persian Gulf War. He was the first, and so far the only, African-American to serve on the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and was the first of two consecutive African-American office-holders to hold the key Administration position of U.S. Secretary of State. And that's just an overview of his resume...the man is a living legend. I'll just let the pics say the rest:young powell rotc powell pow0-038a carter powell 2pow0-029a WH ReaganPowell bush sr and powell 121025_10_colin_powell_ap_3281_605 b010613z powell obama Talk about a picture saying a thousand words. The man has played a major role in shaping America in more ways than most of us will ever know. Through at least 7 administrations he had been a constant participant in crucial decisions earning him his now sacred cow status among many. Powell has often been called the Reluctant Warrior, but can you blame him? He was reluctant to enter into the first Gulf War with George Bush Sr., reluctant to get involved in the Bosnian Conflict with Clinton, reluctant to even run for president at a time when his popularity was so high he was almost assured a win. I suspect that the man knew that once he set his mind to something he'd see it through so he had to be extra careful what he set his mind to, that it was in the best interest of his family and country and himself; extra diligent to make sure he had all the knowledge he needed to make an informed decision. I think the one time he didn't maintain his stance of reluctance -- that is, his reluctance to get on board the bandwagon with his fellow republicans Neo-Cons, who he believed were moving further to the right than he was comfortable with, and shock and awe the hell outta Iraq, find this stockpile of WMD they supposedly had, and make the middle east and therefore the world a safer place -- was his biggest mistake. One he made every effort to rectify, even going as far as to do this:

 You hear a lot about how our Troops need our support for they are out there risking their lives every day to secure our freedom. And, God knows it's true. However, I'm of the mind that the kind of support they truly need from us is not rhetoric but assurances that they'll have jobs, educational assistance and healthcare when they return, and will NEVER be sent into harms' way to further America's corporate business interests... These two heroes of mine have also served us and made America a safer place. And for African-Americans in particular, fighting a war on a different front, these two warriors have illustrated illustriously the result of excellence and determination; like Armstrong and Sammy Davis Jr., and many others with the courage and willingness to appear to be Toms and sellouts, traitors and lost causes, have stood on the frontlines and taken the hits from the left and right, and in doing so have opened more doors of opportunity on the world's stage than any who had ever walked the corridors of power before, for people like Barack Obama and untold others in the years to come to pass through. And for that they deserve our respect and honor. They certainly have mine! Many black Americans have thrown them under the bus and never looked back. But I'll never do that. Thank you Dr. Rice and General Powell. You guys'll always reside on my wall of fame, if only in my heart. Nothing but love! Baye

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