The Return of Alderman Davis
By Denise Clay
One of the things that every child of the 70s can easily identify is a scene from the show "Good Times".
Florida, James, Thelma, Michael, Wilona and, of course, JJ were weekly visitors to our homes back in the day. Through them, you got a view of the ghetto that seemed more funny than hardscrabble. Although hardscrabble came to visit more often than not.
(Any show in which a character can marry a pro football player and yet still wind up in the ghetto would indicate that.)
The scene in the picture is from a show in which politics came into play. The bald gentleman is Alderman Fred Davis, the elected official that represents the project in which the Evans Family lives. The younger gentleman is an idealistic challenger who has decided that he's going to take the Alderman on because he thinks that the neighborhood deserves better.
While the challenger runs a campaign seeking to stick to the issues, Alderman Davis manages to win because he's able to "play the dozens" (crack insulting jokes), and keep the populace from remembering that he actually hasn't done jack to help them out throughout his time in office. The challenger vows to come back next time, but he also recognizes that he may have to learn how to "play the dozens" to do what he wants to for his potential constituents.
I thought of this scenario this morning as I heard President Barack Obama's news conference in which he released the long form of his birth certificate for all the world to see.
Doing the best Alderman Davis imitation I've seen in awhile, Donald Trump has managed to obfuscate the political debate just enough to keep our eyes off of what's important and put them back on the kind of election issues that are so irrelevant that they make me angry and should make you angry too.
And the fact that he's being taken seriously as a presidential candidate tells me that just like Alderman Davis's constituents on "Good Times", there are folks out there willing to pay attention to his silliness despite the fact that it comes with no solutions.
After three years, you might think that the Birther class, having lost every legal fight they've had on the issue, would have decided to give this issue up. I mean, when Congresswoman Michelle Bachmann, a woman whose porch light is never completely on, decides that the issue is no longer an issue, everyone should follow her lead.
But when you're Donald Trump, you're not everyone else. You're a different breed of cat, right down to the hair.
Trump, reading the polls that showed that more than a few Republicans have bought into the Birther nonsense, called (and called, and called) for the President's birth certificate to any reporter who would listen.
Unfortunately, there were a lot of them.
As his star rose among the contenders for the Republican Presidential Nomination for 2012, Trump and his calls for President Obama's birth certificate got a lot of traction. The din from the rest of Birther Nation got so loud that President Obama felt he had no choice but to answer with the unveiling of his birth certificate.
"This issue has been going on for two, two and a half years now. I think it started during the campaign," Obama said. "I have watched with bemusement, I've been puzzled at the degree at which this thing just kept on going."
Alderman Davis, oops, I mean Trump, trumpeted his apparent triumph of course.
"He should have done it a long time ago. I am really honored to play such a big role in hopefully, hopefully getting rid of this issue," he said.
But will it get rid of this issue? Somehow I doubt it. Especially when you consider the fact that significant numbers of Republicans believe that the President is a naturalized and not natural-born citizen.
That belief sure beats actually having to come up with some solutions to our problems, doesn't it?
I have been saying for a while now that we have entered the age of Ringling Bros & Barnum and Bailey Politics. The clown cars open every few days and more and more clowns come pouring out. Trump is just the latest. To his credit, Obama called him on it.
"We're not going to be able to solve our problems if we get distracted by sideshows and carnival barkers," the president said.
(I'm guessing that this, somehow, is a direct reference to the fact that Trump now wants to see President Obama's collegiate transcripts.)
Now I could continue to talk around the real issue here, but when gas is $4.04 a gallon for regular here in the City of Brotherly Love, I don't feel like it. I don't feel like it because I know that as gas goes up, food goes up and I'm going to be asked to pay $17 for a pack of chicken wings again. Kind of like I was in 2008 when the "ooh, shiny!" issue on the table was the musings of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright.
Let's call it what it is. This is some racist crap and always has been. No other President, presidential candidate, or even a person who's thought about running for president, has been through the kind of scrutiny that President Obama has.
As much as I would like to see this in some other way, the only reason that I can see for this is the fact that he's a black man named Barack Obama.
Now I didn't really expect this kind of crap from Donald Trump if for no other reason but "the blacks" (he gets along fine with us by the way) and their fondness for gambling have managed to keep him in models and toupee glue. But for a guy who has managed to run a casino or three into bankruptcy, he's got more than a bit of nerve.
I'll end this by saying something that I didn't think I'd have to say until 2012, but since Trump and the Birther Bunch are rearing their ugly heads right now, I'm forced to do it early.
We don't have time for this.
Like I said, gas is $4.04 a gallon here in Philly, mostly because the oil companies see the turmoil in the Middle East as their opportunity to gouge all of us. Food is going to go up next. Folks in the Tea Party-controlled House are so intent on cutting off everyone's access to health care (including the Senior Citizens that they tricked into voting for them. So much for keeping government hands off of Medicare, right?) that they seem to have forgotten our high unemployment rates and the jobs that they promised.
(Notice I didn't say Republican controlled. The Republicans don't control it. They made a deal with the Devil in 2010. He's getting paid now.)
Things are about to get messy.
My hope is that this obsession with all things "shiny" will end in time for us to deal with the real issues our country faces.
But if it happens, that will be the first time.
So unfortunately, Alderman Davis will win yet again.
If Charles Ramsey is an American hero or another American casualty of media-induced racial stereotyping or both after helping save the lives of the three kidnapped Cleveland women, one thing is now clear. Ramsey has done the seemingly impossible. He's turned racial stereotyping on its head.
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