Presidential Debate 2012: Why Barack Obama Can't Be that Guy Laughing at the Country Club Anymore

Presidential Debate 2012: Why Barack Obama Can't Be that Guy Laughing at the Country Club Anymore
Romney attacked while Obama uncomfortably smiled all night. (Rick Wilking/AP Photo, Pool)

Mitt Romney spanked President Obama at the Presidential Debate last night.

Everyone knows this.

Romney looked at President Obama, directly spoke to and challenged him; on the other hand, Obama looked at the cameras and lectured to the American public.

Romney hit Obama hard repeatedly, truth be darned, and gave Obama chance after chance to take him down on $716 billion dollars taken from Medicare, Bain Capital, 47%, Romneycare, Romney's specifics on tax reform, and Romney's record as governor of Massachusetts.

Everyone waited for the moment for Obama to seize on Romney's openings, but Obama never went with his left hook.

Romney came into the ring with his gloves off for bare knuckle mixed martial arts while Obama never got into the ring at all.

I have heard so many African American Obama supporters say the following things: "It was just the first debate, he'll get him next time", "So what Romney won? He was lying!", "It was his anniversary", or "He was being Presidential".

For all of that I call BS.

Tom Molineaux v. Tom Cribb is more like the fight President Obama is in right now.

Barack Hussein Obama is the FIRST African American President in the HISTORY of The United States of America, a country with deep seeded racial issues; in part, a population who still hasn't come to terms with having elected him; further, still is trying to decide whether he should be there in the first place; and, possibly looking for reasons to explain his presidency away as more symbolic than transformative and substantive if it ends in one term.

It is the reason some Anti-Obama zealots give explanations the popular refrain, "I'm no racist, I just don't agree with his policies". Often times, (not all) it is a round about way to look at President Obama's term almost as an affirmative action hire, not necessarily giving him credit for his merits.

Mr. Obama can no longer be the guy uncomfortably laughing at the country club.

Mr. President's approach was akin to being the only African American professional at a private club and being borderline insulted by other members, whose other members' sole intent determining what type of stereotypical black archetype the professional is (Pre-Mecca Malcolm X or Carlton Banks) and uncomfortably laughing (which Obama did BTW) as not to be combative but appear "above the fray" as to be accepted into the group.

The problem with the uncomfortable laugh approach is Obama is the President of the Club. Not by nepotism in any form, but by his own merit and meteoric rise.

The President CAN be forceful, without being militant. He can be assertive without appearing threatening or "elitist".

It is the reason why Obama's statement "I'm no longer a candidate, I'm the President" at his convention speech resonated so much with the American public.

Mr. Obama can no longer be the guy uncomfortably laughing at the country club.

He MUST be the man who affirmatively stated in his presidential debate to John McCain in 2008  he would go into a friendly nation of Pakistan and hunt the world's most dangerous terrorist even though he was criticized for it by his opponent as being "naive".

Obama must also be the same guy who strutted confidently to the podium May 2, 2011 and told the nation how he ordered SEAL Team Six to go into that same nation's compound and put a bullet in the chest of Osama bin Laden, just like he said he would.

It is when Obama stands forceful, quick, direct, and articulates he's not playing partisan games anymore. That's when Obama snatches the Presidency by the mantle and claims it truly as his.

It's Frank Sinatra time. "It's MY way" time Mr. President.

Put up your dukes.

Exavier B. Pope, Esq. is an entertainment and sports attorney, media personality, syndicated writer, Fortune 500 speaker and peak performance strategist, author, philanthropist, and sports business and law blogger for ChicagoNow. All opinions expressed are those solely of Mr. Pope.

(c) 2012, Exavier Pope

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Article Note: There are millions of decent Americans who genuinely, and generally disagree with the President on his policies no matter what he looks like, and there are millions of those who stand in support of the President because of the man he is and what he stands for regardless of what he looks like. This article is about the wider social context of the debate, the election, and a specific microcosm as I see it through a particular prism (not all prisms but this particular one). This is not the entirety of my views of the subject of race, politics, President Obama, OR even this particular debate. I don't agree with the President on a myriad of issues. I want to make this overabundantly clear so this is not seen as playing some race card. Thanks for reading (I wonder if the fact I'm even making this statement is my version of uncomfortable laughter...oh the irony).


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  • Question: Have you ever had an #uncomfortablelaugh moment?

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    In reply to Exavier Pope:

    Obviously people see race the same way they see blonde, hair vs. dark hair, good looks or excessive obesity.

    At what point can we confidently say that race has no more of a significant impact in interpersonal (or constituent/politician) relationships than the other factors mentioned above?

    Is there some yardstick? Is it a matter of some random number of generations passing?

    If anything, the overwhelming percentage of African Americans who supported and remain loyal to Obama indicates that the wheel has turned somewhat in the opposite direction wherein being a minority is favorable towards candidacy.

    In 2008 we were told that if Obama were elected it would be a decisive indication that racial prejudice is no longer a material factor in determining elections. Your article makes it evident that you do not believe those claims in 2008 were accurate.

    So I pose to you the question: What event must occur before you would admit that race is such an insignificant factor that articles such as the one you wrote are laughable?

  • In reply to Joshua Sanders:


    Thank you for your comments. I believe they are important to the discussion of race and intersection of its relation to society and people's person views thereof.

    You express a belief that is not one I have heard expressed by plenty of people. Unfortunately, the neat trick about blonde hair v. dark hair and weight are these are physical characteristics which can be changed. People may self identify with these physical traits, but neither of them have very little to do with cultural identity, Constitutions, economic, or social conditions contributing to how one group of people treat one another.

    I actually believe race does have a significant impact in our interpersonal relationships, as do nationality, age, sex, sexual preference, and other critical characteristics that make people feel part of certain groups of people. That being said, there should be a time where it is viewed as universally acceptable like being from Cleveland vs being from Pascataway, NJ.

    I believe your analysis of the overwhelming percentage of African-Americans who support and remain loyal to Obama indicating being a minority being favorable is shortsighted. Obama also enjoys majority support among women, Latinos, Asian Americans, and educated white men in northern states. Many of these same people typically vote Democratic as well. The overwhelming majority are voting typical patterns.

    Who is the "we" that was told Obama would cure racial prejudice? I believe in fact the reason the Tea Party won in 2010 because there was inverse racial backlash to his election. There still exists a backlash.

    Want to know a truth? Look at the part of the article where I mention the "affirmative action hire" analysis of viewing Obama if he is limited to one term. Unfortunately, one black President does not eliminate racism, just like one drip from the faucet a flood does not make. If Obama wins a second term, it sends a resounding message racism is not to be tolerated. Maybe people who hold prejudices but are too stubborn to admit them will begin to confront them.

    I want this article to be laughable. Unfortunate, it's the truth.

    Thank you for your comments. I appreciate your feedback.

  • In reply to Joshua Sanders:

    mr.sanders i 'm guessing you have never felt the sting of racism either directly or subtly, i think not. but you must acknowledge that maybe others have.
    race, may be lower on the totem pole for you, others live it every second.
    if you think and attempt to speak for african americans you are sorely disadvantaged.if racial prejudice is no longer a material factor in determining elections,how do you justify the hate ramblings of trump, coulter and sununu?
    mr.sanders nothing is laughable.

  • Thank you for this insightful post. My family and I wanted so desperately for Obama to do well last night. We were frustrated when he didn't pounce on Romney when he had the opportunity to do so, time and time again! Is he trying to take the higher road? Why not call a liar a liar? My uncomfortable moments are occurring today, as I have to defend my president for his lackluster performance last night.

  • In reply to semclaw:

    @semclaw: Thank you for reading and thank you for commenting. Many Obama supporters wanted him to do well. Part of me believes Obama may have been tampered down in attacking Mitt Romney because The Drudge Report & Fox News coordinated to paint Obama as a militant black man with a video a day before the debate. Maybe he didn't want to be viewed that way if he on the offensive at Romney.

  • In reply to Exavier Pope:

    I'm hoping it was a strategy to lull Romney into a false sense of security! @Letslipthedogs Race plays a part in everything whether we like it, admit it, or discuss it. Thanks to Mr. Pope, we discuss it. The more we talk about it, the less it matters, because we are aware of it. There are economic and educational differences that will take much more than fifty years to achieve any sort of parity. Though these differences are becoming class differences rather than race differences these days. If all of the minorities band together we become a majority! I just hope that Obama communicates better so that we can ban together again. The worst possible scenario for anyone who is a minority would be Romney in the White House.Keep up the good work Mr. Pope. Thanks again.

  • Yes, Mr Pope, it seems you are pulling out the race card. It never occurred to me there was a black man in the debate until I read your article. as far as I was concerned I only saw one color there - American. Both are patriots with good intentions and plans.

    I think what you refer to is the culture and I think the President belongs and wis seen as the President of the country club. No need for the past guilt as a generation has passed already and some people have never encountered racism like it was 50 years ago.

    Let's move on and focus on the issue of who can govern better. One has a track record and one has a plan...

  • In reply to Letslipthedogs:


    Thanks for reading the article and thank you for your comments. I truly do appreciate your feedback.

    "Plausible" denial would be applicable here if you truly believe you you did not notice what race Mr. Obama was, just as it would be if you did not notice he was a man, he was wearing a suit, or he was a human being at all. "American" is not a color but a nationality.

    You are right, we are all in this together. There is more that binds us together than separates us. When we all stand for the anthem before a game, you don't see red or blue, you just see fans cheering the celebration of our country.

    You stated both candidates had "good intentions and plans" but then contradicted yourself by stating "one has a track record and one has a plan". I am uncertain what you're trying to say here.

    It is undeniably true racism is not remotely close to what it was in 1962. The Civil Rights Act of 1964 nor the Voting Rights Act of 1965 had been passed at that time. That being said racism DOES still exist. I would love to move on from it. But if no one is willing to discuss it and are instantly demonized by mentioning it, how can people come to terms with how it affects their lives? How can people move on?

    My disclaimer for this article was not to play the race card. The mere mention of race in and of itself does not automatically trigger the race card.

    As a matter of fact, the ironic part of the "uncomfortable laugh" theory is in and of itself an attempt to deflect any potential racial treatment or disparity, and one that seeks to move on in spite of it. Professional blacks have done that for decades. I know, I've been that guy.

    I think you've missed the point of the article. Fox News and Drudge Report tried to dig up Reverend Wright and a 2007 video on Tuesday to show Obama has racial animus. Obama has shown quite the opposite in attempts to side step any and all of it, which is noble and good.

    My advice to him was to be cognizant that he actually could be aggressive in debates without race ever being a part of discussion because he is the commander in chief. So in fact, the article was an attempt to remove race from the discussion. It's an interesting intellectual exercise this article discusses. One that if not read critically can cause one to miss the point and go for the race card if not careful. It's the exact reason I posted a disclaimer afterward.

    Hope this clarifies things for you. Thanks again for your comments. Be well.

  • Thank you, Mr Pope for the response and elaboration. I really appreciate the respect you showed for my comment and am compelled to clarify my comment in respect of yours.

    I mention - American - as a color as I myself am a minority and go through life now ignoring the color of my skin - a luxury earned by people before me. No doubt it still lingers - this racism thing.

    Yes the President could be more aggressive and I expect he will be.

    I thought everyone there including Romney knew who the head honcho was and accorded him the respect.

    The American people are smart enough to discern and distill the substance of the debate and more importantly the issues.

    We are lucky we live in such openness. You should read the article about what the Chinese thought of the debate.

    My apologies for not being clear - both candidates have track records and both have a plan. Somehow this process will weed out what we think is best for America and either one at the end has the same objective which is to bring America back to its feet..etc.

    I am an economist and really both candidates have very little latitude on the solutions to our problems. They probably end up using each other's solutions or a bipartisan one.. I hope I don' t sound cynical and I hope I am wrong.

    I did not Mention who I am voting for or inclined to vote for.

    Your article was so interesting and did not want to dilute you message or distract from it especially for conservatives who stumble upon it. And thanks for clarifying your purpose. Am not very good at insights. But your article and freedom to express it in a very open and insightful way is what makes America great and people like you that makes America so great.

    Don't worry about Drudge - they just tease - they mean well too. I don't read Fox, they are tedious sometimes just from their headlines.

    That video does not mean much. As Rachel Maddow said, are they showing the President to be blacker than he is?

    Take care and be well,

    Expect to hear more from you from the Internetolitical battlefield.

  • In reply to Letslipthedogs:


    Excellent response. I appreciate your comments once again.

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