You’re graduating into an improving job market

Barack Obama

Much has been written — some of it rather good — about Obie’s appalling speech at Morehouse University.

I have little to add: the point has been well made. This is a black guy who has built a career on blaming other black folks for their own situation, so the only thing left to be surprised about is how explicit and banal the Rotary CLub message is. My expectations of him were always low, but it’s amazing, even so, how often he amazes me with the unforeseeable depths to which he can sink.

A few quotes — really, the horrible thing speaks for itself:

Sure, go get your MBA, or start that business. We need black businesses out there. But ask yourselves what broader purpose your business might serve, in putting people to work, or transforming a neighborhood. The most successful CEOs I know didn’t start out intent just on making money — rather, they had a vision of how their product or service would change things, and the money followed.

With doors open to you that your parents and grandparents could not even imagine, no one expects you to take a vow of poverty.

All of you are heading into an economy where many young people expect not only to have multiple jobs, but multiple careers.

If you stay hungry, if you keep hustling, if you keep on your grind and get other folks to do the same — nobody can stop you.

Whatever success I have achieved, whatever positions of leadership I have held have depended less on Ivy League degrees or SAT scores or GPAs, and have instead been due to that sense of connection and empathy.

That last quote brings out what is for me the most repellent aspect of the speech — more repellent even than all the finger-wagging Horatio-Algery of it — namely its insistent tone of preening self-congratulation.

I’m sure the guy was always secretly like this, but being president has brought it out, as it has brought out his inner serial killer.

Here’s the message, in the immortal words of Richard Pryor: I got mine. You get yours.

16 thoughts on “You’re graduating into an improving job market

  1. I can’t speak for most of the media, but I’m seeing little bits of dissatisfaction bubbling up here and there. Courtland Milloy had a pretty decent column in the Washington Post this morning about the scolding, finger-wagging quality of the speech, along with a few quotes that caused me to emit the Hot Dog Burp Of Disgust — lots of smarmy bullshit about “helping out a brother” and what to do if they see a “brother” who isn’t “on point”. I always get the Hot Dog Burp Of Disgust whenever I see him pull out the clichéd hip Black slang whenever he’s speaking to Black audiences; it reminds me of the way Hillary pandered to audiences during the ’08 Presidential campaign — in Pittsburgh drinking boilermakers with steelworkers, in the South speaking to audiences in a phony Southern accent. I can’t even bring myself to read the transcript of Obummer’s blathering at Morehouse, let alone actually watch footage of the speech. As I suspected when I first read that he’d spoken at Morehouse’s commencement, it sounds like his speech was another slicked-up Bill Cosby rant. Seems like the only thing missing was Obummer telling the kids to pull their pants up.

    The commentators at Black Agenda Report have accurately commented that Obummer saves this kind of backhanded, disrespectful talk for Black audiences, and would never speak this way to graduating students at a mostly-white college. It gives me a big giggle when I imagine him speaking at the commencement of, say, the University Of Virginia, admonishing the kids to get a haircut and stop piercing their noses and wearing those ripped-up jeans and smoking weed and cranking those Green Day albums and partying ’til all hours of the night.

    Btw… the gag idea you tossed out about the Headline Of The Week was a good one, although in light of the atrocious Morehouse College commencement speech, I’ll probably end up doing a “condensed version” a la the Condensed AIPAC Speech from about a year ago.

  2. Black people have it WAY better than their grandparents! Sorry African Americans, no more excuses. If Barack Obama can make it with his piddly Harvard law degree using only the power of empathy and a sense of connection, imagine what a high school drop out living in an economically depressed area can achieve using those same principles.

  3. Someone, perhaps it was the otherwise disgustingly condescending Corey Robin, noted the remarkable difference between Obama’s speech at Morehouse and one Lyndon Johnson gave at Howard University. I responded on another list to this: “The most recent volume of Robert Caro’s biography of LBJ, The Passage of Power: The Years of Lyndon Johnson, gives a great account of how LBJ wielded power. After Kennedy was killed, Johnson’s advisers told him not to press for civil rights legislation. He answered to the effect that, well, what’s the presidency for. Somehow Obama manages to convince his supporters that he is besieged by implacable enemies and can do nothing. Of course, the truth is that he doesn’t give a shit about the poor, about black people, or anyone without plenty of cash. LBJ was a scoundrel, but there was at least some sincerity in his sympathy for the poor. And he did something about it, however flawed.” When Martin Luther King watched Johnson speak in favor of civil rights legislation before Congress, and LBJ said, “We Shall Overcome,” King’s aides said it was the only time they ever saw him cry. Can it be imagined that anything but tears of rage would fall from King’s eyes today when he listened to Obama? Here is something Obama said in answer to a black women’s health-related question, in a campaign stop in 2008 in Beaumont, Texas, “I know some of y’all got that cold Popeye’s [chicken] out for breakfast. I know. That’s why y’all laughing. You can’t do that. Children have to have proper nutrition. That affects also how they study, how they learn in school … It’s not good enough for you to say to your child, ‘Do good in school,’ and then when that child comes home, you got the TV set on, you got the radio on, you don’t check their homework, there is not a book in the house, you’ve got the video game playing.” That kind of pompous, arrogant, condescension puts Corey Robin to shame.

    • Black folks generally take this sort of thing good-humoredly; a lot of pulpit oratory in black churches strikes this note, teasing and hortatory at the same time.

      The hortatory side of it is, of course, expected, as from the pulpit, and would be missed, even resented, if it were absent.

      It’s a rather attractive and pleasing rhetorical register in that context — one brother to another, one even-Christian to another. Particularly when you happen to know that the parson is getting it on with that lush soprano in the choir — the one with the *amazing* vibrato.

      Obie has a good ear, and he knows how to imitate this style convincingly on the surface, but it’s all wrong coming from him.

  4. I am not sure that Obama give even a good surface imitation. He comes across as forced and not real as far as this kind of speech goes. Everyone knows he doesn’t normally speak like this, nor has he ever. Take Cornel West. He always talks the same, always manic and kind of crazy, but he’s never fake.

    • That is true. I meant that Obama does it well in the sense that a comedian does good ‘impressions’ of, oh, say, Katharine Hepburn. The man is not untalented, but he is false to the marrow of his bones.

  5. Nice to hear from the white guilt brigade. Got news for you, since it appears none of you have ever met a black person who wasn’t wearing a dashiki in the faculty lounge: the brothers and sisters eat this talk up and they love Obama and are 99% Democrat. Most of them don’t have multiple advanced degrees spewing out of their tusches, so they’re not so “smart” as to be above it all like the supercilious SMBIVAs.

    Oh and Herr Doktor Professor Gates, Cornell West is a celebrity fraud. Of course he appeals to radical chic whiteys—that’s his audience.

    • Love your: “…it appears none of you have ever met a black person who wasn’t wearing a dashiki in the faculty lounge….”
      Having retired after 27 years at a university, I know exactly what you mean. It’s automatic knee-jerk land for “liberals” to like, praise, and hang out with fellow academicians who are black. And maybe a black physician or two.
      An auto mechanic? The guy behind the fast food counter? The aide who works next door? Not so much.

  6. What does hanging out with black people have to do with aspiring for their advancement and equality? It’s like saying, “you can’t denounce the American policy of profiling, tormenting, and discriminating against the Muslims because you don’t hang out with them!” Do you have to share religious and cultural values with people to denounce their oppression?

  7. I very much liked father S’s
    Comment above

    Barry O doing “impressions”

    He really can’t drink raw milk
    He hasn’t the bacteria in his gut
    To be basic black

    The generation of successful merit coloreds
    Generated by the great society push
    Express ironies every day
    mostly beyond their ilk

    I suspect he is good naturally swallowed by basic blacks

    Much as JFK was swallowed by basic cat licks

    Okay the meaning of the real world separates the two worlds
    of basic blacks
    And still on first base white ethnics

    But a common form a common avatars role
    hovers over Jack and Barry

    Can black amerika emerge from it’s national helotry
    Like say
    The bath water Irish

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