“What your country tells you it thinks of you has real meaning. If you see people around you acquiring college degrees and rising only to work as Pullman porters or in the Post Office, while in other communities men become rich, you take a certain message from this. If you see your father being ripped off in the sharecropping fields of Mississippi, you take a certain message about your own prospects. If the preponderance of men in your life are under the supervision of the state, you take some sense of how your country regards you. And if you see someone who is black like you, and was fatherless like you, and endures the barbs of American racism like you, and triumphs like no one you’ve ever known, that too sends a message.

And this messenger—who is Barack Obama—becomes something more to black people. He becomes a champion of black imagination, of black dreams and black possibilities. For liberals and Democrats, the prospect of an Obama defeat in 2012 meant the reversal of an agenda they favored. For black people, the fight was existential. “Please proceed, governor,” will always mean something more to us, something akin to Ali’s rope-a-dope, Louis over Schmeling, or Doug Williams over John Elway.”
— Ta-Nehisi Coates on The Champion Barack Obama

It’s shocking how little American leaders of both parties did to oppose the rise and consolidation of the brutal apartheid regime in the ‘50s and ’60s, but it was Richard Nixon who developed closer ties. The anti-apartheid movement of the 1970s and ’80s – where Barack Obama got his political start; I covered the University of Wisconsin’s successful divestment movement with the Daily Cardinal in 1978 — was demonized as the far left at the time. Moderates proposed alternatives like the Sullivan Principles, named after Rev. Leon Sullivan, a General Motors board member, which tried (and failed) to impose a code of conduct on companies doing business in South Africa (Sullivan eventually agreed they weren’t enough).

Ronald Reagan made it a priority to fight domestic and international divestment efforts — efforts that, in the end, helped pressure the South African government to enter negotiations and free Nelson Mandela. Reagan vetoed an amazingly (if belatedly) bipartisan bill to impose tough sanctions on the apartheid regime. Of course then-congressman Dick Cheney had voted against the sanctions in 1986, and he defended his position while running for vice president in 2000, telling ABC: ”The ANC was then viewed as a terrorist organization … I don’t have any problems at all with the vote I cast 20 years ago.”

The Heritage Foundation was a clubhouse for apartheid backers; as late as 1990, when Mandela had been freed from prison and traveled to the U.S., Heritage suggested he was a terrorist, “not a freedom fighter.” Grover Norquist advised pro-apartheid South African student groups and declared that the issue “is the one foreign policy debate that the Left can get involved in and feel that they have the moral high ground,” while insisting that it was a “complicated situation.”

It was not.

“Obama promised the most transparent administration; he has run the most secretive, prosecuting more whistle-blowers for national security leaks – six – than all prior presidents put together.”

Historical moments in shade throwing, Inauguration Edition 2013. [look of the hour] (via thesmithian:aatombomb:mattyrab)

“One thing I was really proud of was we always tried to be really human, like speak to people like we’d like to be spoken to, and never go into, you know, “speechiness.” We actually had a list of banned words — like, don’t use words that only politicians use in speeches, don’t be a douchebag, stuff like that.”
— Laura Olin, the Obama campaign social media strategist to Storyboard 

“One of the things that attracted me to Barack was his emotional honesty. Right off the bat he said what he felt. There are no games with him—he is who he appears to be. I feel fortunate as a woman to have a husband who loves me and shows me in every way.” —Our First Lady, Michelle Obama

(via apsies)

“If he’d really cared, he would have signed an executive order on day one and said “F- You bigots,” then it would have counted and Democrats would be motivated to go to the polls. But this doing things through the legislature so it is permanent and official and successful- that’s not the hope and change we signed up for. Where’s the passion! Where’s his inner Truman FDR George Bush…”
“Who would really want this job for more than one term?” [Pres. Obama] Then added: “But I have to run now, otherwise it’ll mean letting someone like Mitt Romney step in and get credit for the good stuff that happens after we’ve been through all this crap.”

Around Thanksgiving, when [economic] frustrations were piling up, Mr. Alter reports, the president said to an old friend.

from NYTimes via Newsweek’s Jonathan Alter’s new Obama book “The Promise”

(via brooklynmutt:apsies)

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