A Statesmanlike Negro

Hand resting on the gilt-edged burgundy Bible used by President Abraham Lincoln in 1861, Barack Hussein Obama became the 44th president of the United States.

He was the first African-American, and first Hawaiian-born, to hold this highest office in the land of the once-free.

… our power alone cannot protect us, nor does it entitle us to do as we please. … our power grows through its prudent use; our security emanates from the justness of our cause, the force of our example, the tempering qualities of humility and restraint.”

Well, he couldn’t have been referring to U.S. foreign policy.

As xenophobic and paranoid organizations across the United States of America polished their weaponry, a statesman-like Negro, literally an “African-American,” ascended to the White House.

As bankers and market touts paused briefly from emptying treasury coffers, then redoubled their public theft, a statesmanlike Negro swore to faithfully execute the office of president.

As legions of corporate bagmen paused not in their daily pilgrimage to Capitol Hill to lubricate the wheels of politics the American way, a statesmanlike Negro stood humbled by the task, grateful for the trust, and mindful of our ancestors’ sacrifices.

As fattened spook agencies tapped phones and renditioned unfortunates of Middle Eastern appearance, a statesmanlike Negro bemoaned a war against a far-reaching network of violence and hatred.

As Wall Street privatized gains, socialized losses, and issued obscene record bonuses, a statesmanlike Negro lauded doers, the makers of things, whose journey had never been one of shortcuts, who struggled and sacrificed and worked until their hands were raw.

As munitions makers and defence contractors burdened the people’s economy with inutile weapons of yet greater complexity and obfuscation, a statesmanlike Negro hailed with humble gratitude brave Americans in distant lands, and fallen heroes lying in Arlington, for their spirit of service and willingness to find meaning in something greater than their selves.

As Tea partiers partied on the impending grave of big government, a statesmanlike Negro reminded all that it’s not whether Government is too big or too small but whether it works – whether it helps families find jobs at a decent wage, care they can afford, a retirement that is dignified.

As unfettered laissez faire markets created artificial needs then merrily met consumptive demand, its selfish cankers stifling humankind’s faltering and increasingly ignoble destiny, a statesmanlike Negro conceded an economy badly weakened by greed and irresponsibility and a collective failure, with homes lost, jobs shed, businesses shuttered.

As oil cartels and energy conglomerates drooled at the passing of peak oil, a statesmanlike Negro warned that the ways we use energy strengthen our adversaries and weakens our planet. We will, he said, and the skepticism was almost tangible, harness the Sun and the winds and the soil to fuel our cars and run our factories.

And as the stampede of flat-screen TVs stormed unabated into homes of well-to-do, and the burgers only grew bigger at the nation’s takeaways, a statesmanlike Negro admitted we can no longer afford indifference to the suffering outside our borders, or consume the world’s resources without regard to effect.

An African-American statesman, the hope of millions.

Or just another American President, grist for the corporate lobby mill, at worst a factional stooge, at best simply human?

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