Oh, Mel...

This one crushes me. Crushes me. Crushes me. Crushes me.

Mel Watt, my Congressman, a man whom I've voted for over and over and over again, a man of whom I am usually moderately proud, a man who is a former Chair of the Congressional Black Caucus, has stated that he's endorsing John Edwards...because he is a White Man.

"There are a number of reasons I've been supporting John," he told the Observer on Monday, "and one of those is a concern whether the electorate would support an African American candidate or a female candidate for president."

Heartbroken. I am heartbroken. Beyond consolation.

He then offers this qualification:

"This is not about the being on the side of the winning candidate," Watt said. "Actually, I think John has been the most progressive candidate in the race. And his positions have more closely reflected mine than the other candidates."

Yeah, Congressman? Good point, you're right. But why say it from behind a Hedge, friend?

Comments

Why?

Because Mel Watt doesn't pull any punches. I had a chance to interview Mel almost two years ago. I asked him then if he would run against Liddy Dole. His reply was intelligent and based on his own past experience and the experience of another African American, Harvey Gantt, who ran a state-wide race in North Carolina. He told me point blank, without batting an eye that North Carolina still wsn't ready to vote for an African American in a state-wide race. He also told me that he didn't want the job. He said that representing the people of the entire state would mean that he would have to move to the right and that he liked being a progressive and representing the people of the 12th.

Mel Watt knows and is saying what nobody else wants to point out and that is there are many, many Democrats in the south who identify as conservatives and simply won't vote for a woman or a minority. It's hard enough to get them to vote Democratic. You can shout racism at the top of your lungs, gnash your teeth at the bigotry and pull out your hair at the unfairness of it all, but that won't change what very well could happen on the ground in 2008 in most of the south and a good portion of the rest of this country. There is hope, there is wishful thinking and there is the reality of what people really are ready to embrace. Just because it is way past time, just because it should be time, doesn't mean that time has come.

Mel Watt isn't stupid. Mel Watt had already endorsed John Edwards. He's staying with the man he feels is the most progressive of the bunch. Mel Watt is continuing to endorse John Edwards because he feels Edwards is the best person for the job and electability is only a small part of that equation.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

But why would he throw that opinion out there?

I disagree with him, but I'll assume for a second he's right. But doesn't putting that idea out there reinforce the very sad idea that we're not ready, thus making that idea harder to overcome?

1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

Precisely.

Precisely the point I was attempting to make throughout this discussion. Thank you, sir.

or maybe he truly is worried

that there is real risk to winning the White House if Obama is our candidate. You would have him sit around on his hands and watch it happen?



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

OK, well, for the sake of argument I'll concede Obama

We're not ready for a female president? And he has the right to make that call?

1 Thessalonians 5:21: But examine everything carefully; hold fast to that which is good.

I always wanted to be the avenging cowboy hero—that lone voice in the wilderness, fighting corruption and evil wherever I found it, and standing for freedom, truth and justice. - Bill Hicks

He's got the right to state his opinion.

Doesn't he?

By the way, Sam, I like the new picture.

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

Yup....he has a right to call it as he sees it

male, female, no matter the shade of skin. He has a responsibility to be honest. Now...if he didn't truly believe it and he was just saying it to manipulate results I'd be as angry as the rest of you. I can only base my feeling that he isn't pulling any punches on my past experiences with Mel Watt - as limited as they are.

The country should have been ready for something other than a white man as president a looooong time ago. This may very well be the year and if it happens I will sit and cry puddles full of happiness tears.



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Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

Bunches of us will cry right along with you

and it might be tears of joy that yet another barrier has been broken, or it might be tears of joy that for once, the candidate we thought represented the best chance for the US actually won.

I refuse to consider any other reason we might be crying that night. :)

Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

I understand both Betsy and Bully's takes.

I've often said that I don't like Barack Obama, at all, but the idea of breaking down racist barriers is one reason I WOULD vote for him. Not because of HIM, but in spite of him, for us.

I don't mind Mel Watt expressing what is his own deeply-held view, which he has a much better feel and understanding for, you'll notice my lilly-white mug over there ------->
I haven't had to deal with any of the things that Mel Watt has. But, I wish he could have said it at some point OTHER than in his endorsement of John Edwards.

One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
-me

I understand that explicitly, Betsy.

But what message is the Congressman sending to his young constituents of ALL races when he says things like this, Betsy?

Who does the moving? Who does the progressing? Who encourages growth, if not this man?

Who applies the pressure? Where to? How hard?

When?

Maybe he's simply sending the message

that there is too much at stake to base your decision on hopes or dreams. He's basing his decision on the reality he knows. I had my 14-yr-old read the article and I asked her what it meant to her. (Oh...she's home b/c it's exam week and she is exempt from all her exams.) Kate's had this to say.....

  • Mr. Watt is consistent since he backed John Edwards in 2004 and has stayed with him.
  • He knows how many bigots there are in this world.
  • If you find a candidate who shares your views you should vote for him even if others are more popular.
  • (Just for some background) Katie has been in culture shock after moving out here to the hinterlands. She went from an uber progressive international school with friends from many different countries to bigot land where kids still use racist, derogatory words that most people refer to using only the first letter. She comes home angry most days. She loathes bigots. Even my 14-yr-old knows that you don't win elections by ignoring the fact they exist.

    It isn't hopes and dreams that do the moving, do the progressing and encourage growth. It is the hard work behind the hopes and dreams that ultimately brings us progress. Mel Watt may not be a great orator or have an artful way with words, but he's been behind the scenes and on the scene doing the hard work. His pragmatism might keep him from being the perfect progressive, but it also keeps him grounded.

    Honestly, the message seems to be - "I'm sticking with John Edwards, because your Hope isn't enough to pull me away from the man I think best represents my views."



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Katie is right

    You don't win elections by ignoring the fact that racists exist.

    But that doesn't mean that we CONCEDE our elections to them and to our own fear that their views will always prevail.

    I was Katie's age when Harvey Gantt lost to Jesse Helms in 1990 and I think that his two runs against Jesse Helms...even his two LOSSES to Jesse Helms... are among the finest stands NC Democrats have ever made; brave at face value and noble to the core.

    1996 was twelve years ago. Hard to believe, but Katie was two years old the last time a African American was the nominee of his party and stood in an election before the voters of this state. Twelve years ago.

    Time to try again? Or do the metrics stand unchanged? And is Barack Obama the same brand of politician as Harvey Gantt? Or merely the same color?

    Will you pass my thoughts on to your daughter, along with my regards...

    Frank

    I worked on the Gantt campaign

    both times, and it was devastating.

    I remember particularly how taunting and mean-spirited Helms' victory speech was that evening. I remember that Gantt and his wife comported themselves with amazing grace and dignity as he made his concession speech.

    I also remember that while circulating political literature in some of the poorer neighborhoods of a district we had to combat the effects of of the postcards that Helms' campaign had sent out to these poorer neighborhoods informing them that if the residents had recently relocated (and turnover was very high in these places) they could go to jail or be fined hundreds of dollars for voting.

    It was also ironic, and awful, that in these poor neighborhoods that were occupied by whites, the hostility toward Gantt was quite high, even though Helms had recently voted to remove the federal funding that provided these poor whites their housing! They didn't know or care about issues like that. What they knew was that Gantt was black and Helms was white.

    It was bitter. I admire Larry Kissell's recent post about not giving into bitterness. It ain't easy.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
    -Edmund Burke

    Oh yes, I remember you from the TV spot...

    "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing"
    -Edmund Burke

    I've always admired your signature, and it's so apropos for this post.

    Ya danged whippersnapper

    I reckon I asked fer that~

    I disagree

    I don't believe Mel Watt was conceding anything. He simply stated that one of the reasons he supported John Edwards was electability. You might be right if it was the only reason. I think Mel Watt would be doing just as big a disservice if he left that out simply because it doesn't sound good.

    Electability in the general isn't a very sexy topic, but the time to discuss it is now and not after the selection of our Dem nominee. If there are known challenges to electability, as a voter I need to hear how they are going to be addressed.

    All I'm hearing from the Obama camp is "Yes we can. Yes we can. Yes we can." I'm not hearing how we can.

    Oh....and Harvey Gantt inspires me more than Barack Obama. I know Harvey Gantt. I grew up with him as Mayor of my city. I think the world of him. I don't think the world of Obama. I don't care what color skin the man has.

    The time to try is when you have the right candidate. Apparently Mel and I don't think Barack Obama is the right candidate for 2008. I personally appreciate Mel's honesty and candor. They are qualities I admire in a politician and they are very refreshing.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    "Known challenges to electability" (or: HEDGE FUN!)

    Please everyone, help me compile this list, and I'm not making fun of Betsy here, it just suddenly seemed like a really good idea. Feel free to add both challenges and candidates. One Rule: These must be knee-jerk reactions. Absolutely NO POLICY POSITIONS allowed. These are real voters, with real deep seeded hatreds we're talking about here.

    I'll start it out with three challenges each...

    KNOWN CHALLENGES TO ELECTABILITY (Remaining 2008 Democratic Presidential Candidates)

    OBAMA
    Black. Cocaine. Chicago.

    CLINTON
    Woman. Mean. Bill Clinton.

    EDWARDS
    Trial Lawyer. Hair. Big house.

    KUCINICH
    Dorky. UFO's. Short.

    GRAVEL
    Old. Very retired. Crazy.

    Copy. Paste. Add. Repost.

    If your response is to turn something serious

    into something silly, then we don't need to engage each other in any further discussions.

    Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Bear with me...

    I'm making a point.

    List looks right to me,

    can't we do one for the Republinits though?

    Wow

    There is a difference between the press using Edwards' hair and home as talking/smear points and fighting the very real racism that would be faced by Barack Obama. This is just plain silly. Deny it as much as you like, but by taking a serious and valid point and turning it into something silly you were making fun.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    look beyond the Snark.

    It boils it down to what the worst of the media is trying to do. I'm not going to add to the list, but I could - we probably all could. The stereotypes for all of them are there. They've been created for us, some good, some bad. Some were created by the candidates themselves. It's up to us to look beyond that and see the people, the leaders - all five of them are leaders whether we want to admit it or not - in their own right, and try to determine which person will be best to fill the incredibly complex role of president.

    I've felt for a long time it's too bad that it's not a shared post, because there are elements of several of the candidates I'd like to see in a President.

    I still would like to see Edwards win the nomination. Failing that, I'd like to see a Democratic ticket I can wholeheartedly support. I think I'll get that.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

    I see Bullydoc's point...

    Mel didn't seem to mention any sort of policy or fundamental difference that keeps him from endorsing Obama or even Hillary. He then goes so far as to not even reenforce his support for Edwards but rather uses race and bigotry to attempt to justify some lack of change in office. An attitude like that leaves no room for not only overcoming these boundaries, but progress itself. This Obama non-endorsement could've been worded a bit better.

    I have absolutely no problem

    with a Watt endorsement of Edwards. I just think his reasoning does nothing but reiterate the very racism and bigotry he mentions. It seems like a terrible cycle to me.

    Dodging my question?

    :)

    Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Quite the opposite

    Lost in the quote is the part where he says that John has expressed the ideas that he most agrees with.

    Given the makeup of this state, and the issues that Mel is intimately involved with (he makes up 1/3 of the trio with Barney Frank and Brad Miller that is actually trying to get Congress to address and fix the subprime problem) its really not all that surprising that Mel is behind John.

    Earlier in the campaign Mel was much more outspoken on the issues and why he was supporting John, and no one gave him the time of day. So now he says something that is beyond the issues and you react as if its the only reason he has for supporting John. It probably is the biggest reason, because Mel knows what it is like to have your bills vetoed, or killed by a Republican majority, and I cant imagine he wants 4 or 8 more years of that. But, it also isnt the only reason, and Mel has spent plenty of time explaining all the other reasons, and never gotten a second glance for it.

    "Keep the Faith"

    "Keep the Faith"

    exactly

    I really wish you would come around and say what I meant to say more often. It would be even better if you would send it to me before I actually type out my initial response. :)

    Robin Hayes lied. Nobody died, but thousands of folks lost their jobs.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    I know, I know!

    I'm not bashing Mel on his endorsement choice at all, I was just moreso offended that he went on to mention that one single reason. To me it's a complete non issue, whether he mentions it as the first, or after 100 other reasons to support Edwards. That's the only problem I had with it, the fact that he publicly entertained and reiterated that gross assumption that does nothing but set us back as a nation. My two cents are slowly turning into a quarter, eh?

    And yet - I just spent the afternoon with teen dems

    this past weekend who told me it didn't matter that Obama was black or that Clinton was a woman. It just didn't matter. They thought I was insane when I asked if that would have any influence on the way they would vote. So maybe there's hope growing in a younger generation.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

    It doesn't matter to that age group of Dems

    and that's a beautiful thing to see. However, go spend some time with teen Republicans and teens that aren't involved in politics in general and ask that same question. Moving out here has been a big fat reality check. We have a long way to go.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Oh, yeah. I know that.

    I'm living out there, too, Betsy. I've learned new racist terms since we moved to our new precinct (three years ago). I actually had to ask for definitions. That doesn't happen to me too often.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

    I just passed this along to that girl

    We're both laughing. Sad, isn't it? Maybe we need to write a book on bigotry and the new (old?) South. Actually, our neighborhood has only two families from the south and ours is one of them. Most of the kids are from New Jersey and Michigan and are very new transplants. They are as bad as the locals. It's really sad.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Tell her it's ok.

    I reckon I taught those redneck kids some other language their mommas didn't want them hearing. :-D (And no, I'm not really proud of that, but I'm betting they had to go ask for definitions, too.)

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

    Northern Racism and Southern Racism are very different.

    Having been around both, I can tell you that Northern Racism has a lot more talk than walk. It's loud and in your face, but much less likely to do anything harmful or discriminatory. Southern Racism is more quiet, under the surface, but quite willing to discriminate at any moment.

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    I just never heard the words in the North

    or anything like them used so casually as I have in the South. But that's my experience. It was as if the people they were directed at were not really people. And the people they were directed at were children, which made it even worse, in my opinion. And yeah - I got loud and in the abusers face -- but not with racist language. Just foul. Very foul. And very in his face.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

    Oh, it's there in the North

    under a veneer of Yankee restraint but just as insidious.

    Person County Democrats

    I actively oppose gerrymandering. Do you?

    Absolutely.

    I think the difference is that in the north, things like the "n" word are used with more or less the same emotion as the "f" word. Whereas, that just isn't the case here. The "n" word isn't just a vulgarity in the south.

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    Lots of ways to look at it

    A friend of mine from Boston has a similar take except that hers is that the liklihood that violence will accompany racist feelings is greater up "nauth," as she puts it. She likened it to the ethnic tensions between Irish and Italians in certain Boston neighborhoods. The last time I did research on the subject, which was probably ten years ago, the trend for starting or joining racist groups or participating in so-called 'hate crimes' based on race was increasing in the Northwest and decreasing in the South. And when I was a kid in the seventies, the race riots were mostly up north.

    All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is that good men do nothing
    -Edmund Burke

    Mel's my Congressman, too.

    I like him but have always noted a reticence that holds him back from true progressive goals. His attitude about impeachment for example; I won't be the one to hold the administration accountable but I'll support someone else doing it.

    I guess he does have a better idea what Obama is up against but did he have to say it out loud just now? Why not just support John Edwards for the best of reasons? He is the best person for the job.

    My issue with electability

    Is that at best it's an imprecise science, dealing in shifting quantities (demographics and turn-out) and the unmeasurable matter of mood and personality both in the electorate and in their candidates. Elections are won at the golden spot of intersection for these changing factors.

    So to conclude MY involvement in this post (the busiest of the day, although it somehow never made it to the front page **scandal**) I'll just say that in the increasingly credible event that either Obama or Clinton are the nominee of the Democratic party, I know for a FACT that NO ONE HERE will say to us or to him or herself:

    "It's over. Our nominee is unelectable."

    That would be silly.

    P.S.: I pray no one tells those nutty idealists over at BlueNC that they're dreaming if they think North Carolina will ever elect a gay man to the US Senate. Chuck Schumer says it can't be done.

    This isn't the type of post we typically promote

    to the front page. I think there's mention in the FAQ about what we typically look for. I'll have to check. It's been a while since Lance wrote it. Over the holidays while we've all been busy we've been a bit more generous about what gets moved to the front page. This isn't something we would promote. We have a lot of active threads that never get promoted to the front page.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    No, I don't think that's it.

    I think if the title of this post had been

    "Mel Watt Reiterates Edwards Endorsement"

    It might have been front paged.

    And as both an Edwards supporter (check the profile picture. Check the public donor records.) and as a HUGE Mel Watt proponent, I wish the story had struck me that way. But quite honestly I felt that Mel (my Congressman) misspoke. His statement hurt because for a moment it gave me a window into how he thinks about himself and his capabilities as a leader. The Mel Watt that I've followed is a highly capable leader, but he apparently feels that his effectiveness is limited. That's unsettling.

    So I'm going to stop by my Congressman's office when I'm in Charlotte tomorrow and see if I can't make an appointment to speak with Rep. Watt in the near future.

    I also think there may be differences in the way we view the utility of BlueNC as a place in which to prosecute these campaigns we're involved in. I don't believe we're explicitly fighting for votes here.

    BlueNC is advertised as "The People's Think Tank" which indicates that the forum is a place to exchange ideas and, if necessary, to rework, correct and perfect aspects of the approach to the conversation that is occurring in the wider "real" world in our municipal, state and national government.

    That said, I think it's valid and important to criticize our darlings here without undue concern that we are committing treason against the Democratic party or any of her viable candidates. Moreover, it's a place to strengthen the platform and redirect errant language and ideas. It's a place for the intelligent and the involved to talk to each other. It's a place to determine the awareness and sensitivity of Progressive candidates for state and local offices. It's a remarkably democratic environment in which to play with language. It is a wonderfully forgiving forum in which to misspeak. To me, these are the roles that BlueNC plays well and I'll continue to utilize the forum in that capacity...and with the utmost transparency.

    I appreciate that you use your real name here, Betsy. I'd love to drop the Bullydoc thing but I can't seem to figure out how to do it. In exchange, I make the attempt to remember to sign my posts when they're particularly scurrilous. Because I wear my motives on my sleeve, I allow myself great latitude of speech.

    This often includes entertaining myself and laughing at my own jokes, something I can't seem to quit. Self imposed rules of propriety FORBID me from exercising the colon closed parentheses emoticon at the end of sentences, so if I'm joking you'll just have to lump it.

    I hope that goes a ways to bridge the apparent gap in our respective stylistic approaches.

    Best,

    Frank

    Frank

    I can tell you with an absolute certainty that the content of the piece does not follow our guidelines (written or un) and I don't care how much lipstick you put on it in the form of a headline.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    The content of the original piece

    was not offensive nor was it against any written or unwritten guidelines I'm aware of.

    Can you elucidate?

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

    Not about being offensive

    for about the past 18 months we've (admin team) agreed to try to promote only substantive pieces. Prior to that it was only me, Robert, James, Lance and Targator talking to each other. :)

    Yes, sometimes short pieces do get promoted when they should not be and you can ask Robert and James and probably others if I haven't emailed them to take them down. I have.



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    Vote Democratic! The ass you save may be your own.

    Yesterday as a matter of fact : )

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    I seem to recall

    that "screen names" can be changed if someone really wants to; I'm sure we can look into that if you're serious.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

    Ok. Help me understand.

    The template I was using was this:

    Elected official makes comment. Cite source. Quote source. Add commentary. Invite discussion.

    I factored in the fact that the news story cited (a) involved my Democratic congressman and (b) was from the current news cycle and (c) spoke to a topic of current interest and debate.

    What followed was a substantial discussion.

    I've posted a lot of entries that weren't front-paged.

    I feel that this one was marginalized.

    I think if we had the rec list working (it's got some bugs)

    This is exactly the kind of story that would be up there. Then, it would be prominently featured for days and days, instead of sliding off the front-page in a matter of hours. That is why it was built in the old BlueNC. And, speaking of which, I seem to recall front-paging at least ONE Of your previous diaries.
    : )

    One of the pitfalls of childhood is that one doesn't have to understand something to feel it. - Carlos Ruiz Zafon

    Jesus Swept ticked me off. Too short. I loved the characters and then POOF it was over.
    -me

    The rec list would be a great way for diaries like this to get

    the attention they deserve. This certainly generated a lot of discussion - some of which was inordinately interesting (at least to me) on the topic of race and racism in general.

    Be the change you wish to see in the world. --Gandhi

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