Politically, my critique of Summers is the same as my critique of Robert Rubin, Timothy Geithner and Jason Furman. They’re all deregulators who helped contribute to the catastrophe. And now, all of a sudden, they’re supposed to come to the rescue.
Why hasn’t he tapped some of the brilliant,
progressive economists who aren’t Clintonistas or already part of the
I was on the radio calling for folks like William Greider, Paul Krugman, James Galbraith, William Julius Wilson, Sylvia Ann Hewlett and Joseph Stieglitz. All these are progressive economists. Nobel Prize-winner Paul Krugman, my dear brother and colleague at Princeton, is very important. Of course, the Obama people won’t touch him with a 10-foot pole yet. They will eventually.
I think Brother Obama is wise enough to be pushed by events, even if
he’s not going to be pushed by his advisors. Those folks are a little
Some readers have questions for you. The Rev. Florine Thompson asks: “What are three key ways in which President-elect Obama can, as you say, move from symbol to substance? How does black America hold him accountable?”
Well, for one, I think he’s already made a move towards substance in terms of his stimulus packages. He’s putting a focus on the financial Katrina and the 2 million distressed homeowners. He’s dispersing funds directly to them. Plus, he’s planning public spending on job creation. And those same people need health care independent of their employment, because they’re going under. I’m glad that he’s letting us know that that is the first order of business. This is crucial, because everyday people on the ground level aren’t benefiting at all from Treasury Secretary [Henry] Paulson’s recapitalization of the banks.
A second key is for him to let the world know that America is not going to be behaving unilaterally like a policeman, but cooperating with other countries and the United Nations to achieve a multilateral vision. It’s important that we have a different public face, one that is not consistent with dominating and manipulating, but with listening to the rest of the world.
The third key I’d like to see Obama focus on is the plight of
children, and to say, “We’re going to wipe out child poverty,” because
they are our future, 100 percent.
The reverend also asks: “How should President-elect Obama deal with affirmative action in the 21st century? Have you noticed a racial backlash since Barack Obama won the presidential election?”
Well, there is definitely a white backlash, and I’m sure it’s escalating. The good thing is that those racists don’t speak on behalf of the vast majority of whites. That’s a sign of progress. Of course, the press calls it “post-racial.” It’s not post-racial, just less racist.
Since Obama’s election, it’s been said from the pulpit of many black churches that African Americans now have no excuse for their lack of responsibility, for high school dropouts, high crime, illegal drug use and other social ills. The reverend wonders whether you see any truth to that position.
Not at all. It’s just right-wing jargon [that] suggests that somehow we’ve never wanted to be responsible. And those folks who haven’t been responsible should have been. They didn’t need to wait for Obama to win. The greatest critic in terms of black responsibility has always been the black community itself. So I think we’ve always had black responsibility. One election doesn’t make a difference in that regard.
Besides, a black face in the White House doesn’t mean that the fight
against racism is over. There’s still white supremacy, police brutality
and discrimination in the workplace, in housing and so forth to deal
From Anthony Noel, a Muslim brother: “You, as a person of faith, have made it a point to criticize those of us who condemn homosexuality, and its behavior, as being homophobic. What is your basis for such a criticism?”
As a Christian, I’m Christ-centric, and Jesus did talk about the quality of love and the quality of relations, and I think that it is possible for there to be mature love between same-sex brothers and sisters.
He also asks: “What is your impression, thus far, of Obama’s appointing so few blacks to positions in his administration?”
Give him time, but their color is not as important as what they stand for.
Yeah, look at Clarence Thomas.
Marianne Ilaw asks whether you think that Obama is more palatable to whites because he doesn’t carry the legacy of slavery, and whether his election will usher in a new era where whites opt for exotic-looking blacks, African and Caribbean immigrants and biracials, over those folks whose ancestors toiled in the fields.
No. Obama is a gentle brother with a sweet disposition that doesn’t constitute a threat to white brothers and sisters. Malcolm X was full of rage and righteous indignation. I’m with him, too. I love all different kind of black folks. Malcolm X was a different type of black man from Obama. That doesn’t mean Barack is not honorable. We can appreciate them both.
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