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December 8, 2011 by Marc Lamont Hill
December 8, 2011 by Marc Lamont Hill
EARLIER THIS WEEK, Herman Cain announced that he was “reassessing” his presidential campaign. For those who don’t know, “reassessing” is campaign-speak for “I don’t have a chance in hell of winning but I’m gonna hang on until I get a political job or a sweet TV contract.”
Sadly, Herman Cain’s political demise wasn’t prompted by his most glaring deficiency: the fact that he is stupid.
As we’ve seen with George W. Bush and Dan Quayle, the GOP is perfectly comfortable supporting intellectual featherweights. In the case of Cain, his poll numbers didn’t dip when he proudly declared his ignorance about foreign leaders. His base of support didn’t budge an inch when he said, without irony, that the nation needed a “leader not a reader.” There was barely a ripple among loyalists when he struggled to understand a boilerplate question about U.S. involvement in Libya.
Nope, it wasn’t idiocy that killed Cain. It was the clown car filled with an endless string of sexual-harassment accusations, capped off by revelations of an alleged 13-year affair with a woman named Ginger White.
That was too much, even for a party that regards sexual harassment as nothing more than a liberal myth – along with global warming, police brutality and Bono.
As a result, Cain had to go.
Of course, Cain isn’t the only one with an Achilles’ heel. Each of the remaining contenders has a personal, political or circumstantial soft spot that compromises his chances of winning.
Newt Gingrich: Unlike Cain, Newt’s string of moral indiscretions are considered old news. Instead, Newt’s weak spot is the very thing that makes him appealing to many voters: his intelligence.
Even though he often arrives at the wrong conclusion, the former House speaker is an intellectual heavyweight who approaches issues with complexity and nuance. Unfortunately, this gift makes him susceptible to attacks from ideological purists who confuse complexity with heresy. Take, for example, Gingrich’s statement that he supports a humane stance on immigration. What should have been an axiomatic statement for someone from the “party of the family” turned into a full-fledged controversy. Gingrich’s stubborn refusal to turn complicated questions into sound-bite answers just may cause his demise.
Mitt Romney: The front-runner has two prominent weaknesses. First, as governor of Massachusetts Romney has accumulated a closet full of liberal skeletons. From health care to women’s rights, Romney took positions that make him anathema to dyed-in-the-wool conservatives. While he’s shown that he’s fully willing and able to tell conservatives whatever they want to hear, Romney’s history will still give pause to primary voters.
The other issue for Romney is his Mormon background. Tragically, many voters remain bigoted about Mormonism, viewing it as an anti-Christian cult. Although Romney has done his best to prove that his faith is mainstream, many evangelical Christians just aren’t buying it. This may prove disastrous for him in the general election.
December 8, 2011 by Marc Lamont Hill
ON MONDAY, the NBA Players Association formally rejected the NBA owners’ most recent offer and unanimously agreed to dissolve the union and take the owners to court.
The decision virtually guarantees a protracted legal battle and places the 2011-2012 season on the verge of disaster. As this news settles into my brain, and with games already canceled through at least Dec. 15, I feel overcome by a range of emotions.
As someone who studies inequality, I can’t help but resist the popular “billionaires vs. millionaires” narrative that has been attached to the labor dispute. That allows us to ignore the fact that the NBA (like America itself) is an institution built upon the exploited labor of black and brown bodies.
Despite agreeing to reduce their revenue share from 57 to 50 percent, the owners are still trying to squeeze more money from the players, not to mention compromise their long-term security by reneging on the owners’ promise to yield on systemic issues.
The players might be rich, but the owners are wealthy. And they’re committed to keeping it that way.
As a black person, I can’t help but feel sickened by the tone of condescension that spews from the mouths of NBA owners.
As Bryant Gumbel accurately pointed out, the owners speak with the indignation of plantation owners who are outraged that their “uppity” slaves are acting in their own best interest.
From their commitment to restricting the freedom of players to their arrogant “take it or leave it” ultimatums, the owners have committed to treating the players not as partners, but as “the help.”
No, these uber-rich players aren’t slaves. But the owners damned sure have the slave/master routine down pat.
As a labor advocate, I can’t help but sympathize with all of the working-class people hurt by the lockout. Even if you can’t side with millionaire players, it’s easy to connect with all of the parking attendants, vendors and ticket takers directly affected by the work stoppage.
It’s also easy to see the impact of the lockout on local restaurants, bars and other institutions that make income from game-day traffic. These are the people who will be most profoundly and irreversibly hurt by the labor impasse.
As an avid basketball fan, and Sixers season-ticket holder, I feel indifferent to the details of the negotiations. I just want to return to my courtside seat, waiting to see if Elton Brand can keep drinking from the fountain of youth that revived his career last year. I want to continue watching Jrue Holliday gain confidence and blossom into an elite point guard. I want to find out if space cadet Evan Turner can change the collective opinion that he is the worst Sixers draft pick this side of Leon Wood and Al Henry.
October 19, 2011 by Marc Lamont Hill
October 6, 2011 by Marc Lamont Hill
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