Many of the special days in the life of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., have taken on special meaning for all of us. This year, the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial will be dedicated in Washington on August 28, at which time tens of thousands will gather to celebrate The Life, The Dream, the Legacy of Dr. King.
Of course his birth anniversary is rightly observed as a solemn national holiday.
The dates surrounding his assassination have also become iconic. On April 4, 1967 Dr. King delivered his famous Riverside Church address in New York City, speaking out against the Vietnam War. On April 3, 1968 in Memphis, he delivered the immortal “I’ve been to the Mountaintop” remarks.
So, back when the 2008 Democratic Presidential nomination was still undecided, I looked at the calendar and made two, accurate predictions. Since the final day of the Democratic National Convention in Denver was to be August 28, 2008–the 45th anniversary of that famous “I have a Dream” speech at the March on Washington–at which time the Democratic nominee would deliver an acceptance speech, I insisted that the nominee could be no one but, the first serious African American candidate, then Sen. Barack Obama.
And since the Presidential Inauguration on Tuesday January 20, 2009 was one day after the celebration of the King Holiday that year, I insisted that no Senator who voted against that holiday–as Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) had done–could be inaugurated President in Washington, the day after the King Holiday celebration.
I was correct on both counts.
But had I paid attention to what happened on those dates, I wouldn’t be so surprised at some of the developments in this president’s term.
In his speech to the Democratic Convention on the 45th anniversary of the King speech nominee Barack Obama never once mentioned Dr. King’s name. He did little better in his inauguration speech, and we have been drifting downhill ever since.
The President started out trying to fix the nation’s worst economic crisis since the Wall Street crash of 1929 and the Great Depression of the 1930s, by picking his top financial advisers from among the Wall Street bankers who drove the economy into the sewer in 2008. Their policies made certain that Wall Street got rescued, while Main Street remained under water.
When it came time to fight for his signature legislative “victory”–the healthcare reform act–the legislation did nothing to fix the broken healthcare delivery system because the President never even addressed that aspect of the problem. And then, when it came to the availability of health insurance for all, he never even considered fighting for the best health insurance system–Medicare-for-all.
No, what was also known as the “public option” was never even on the table as far as this President was concerned. He wanted to fashion a deal that would attract the support of that non-existent species in Washington, “The Moderate Republican.” That was the first of this president’s classic, “concessions without a demand.” Now that flawed bill–which was opposed by at least 26 states in a lawsuit–is forever known as “Obamacare.” It serves him right.
Then, why he still had a Democratic majority in both houses of Congress, he conceded to right-wing demands that $700 billion worth of tax breaks be extended to the wealthiest 2 percent of the population, because he said, he wanted to continue tax breaks for the Middle Class. Now, the Middle Class is shrinking as jobs are scarcer and scarcer as folks who were one-paycheck-away-from-poverty are landing there in large numbers. All Pres. Obama had to do then was veto the bill, and dare the Republicans to give him something he could sign.
Then the Republicans took control of the House of Representatives, and the real Obama-slide began. He folded his tents in April 2011 to avert a government shutdown. And then his folding on the debt ceiling debacle was so shameful, it is better described as “Origami.” This President has given new meaning to the terms “capitulation,” “concession,” “surrender.”
I should have known, when the President threw his own pastor of 20 years–the Rev. Jeremiah Wright–under the bus, that he had forgotten how to stand up for the Rev. King’s Dream.
Ironically, Sean Hannity of Fox News fame, still says that this milquetoast first Black President can’t help himself because in his soul he is a militant, socialist, Black nationalist. If that’s what the right wing is going to think about him anyway, he might as well have really been a Black man, instead of faking to be one on TV.