Read Chief Political Correspondent Jason Johnson’s full 2011 Political Awards List here at UPTOWN Magazine as part of its special weekly partnership with Politic365
As much as I hate awards shows, I love awards lists. And the end of the year is the perfect time to come up with lists of things: What you’re going to do next year, what you should have done last year, and what you have to pay for from Christmas before someone shows up to repossess it. Again, end of year lists are awesome. This year I’ve decided to give unofficial awards to the 5 most interesting or important political events of 2011. Many of these awards are quite an honor, some are not. But in the end, every event or person below was worthy of something at the end of the year.
The “Smells Like Old Bay” Award
This award goes to Congresswoman Maxine Waters and her one woman war against Barack Obama earlier this summer. I have wavered back and forth on this one for awhile. When Maxine Waters was first criticizing the president for not doing enough about Black unemployment, and then turned around and said she would do more if Black folks would ‘let’ her, I caught a distinct whiff of Old Bay coming off her.
A lot of the old guard in African American politics, Jesse Jackson, Charlie Rangel and most recently Maxine are angry because either:
1.) They were initially Hillary Clinton supporters and Obama has a long memory and locked them out or
2.) He didn’t kiss their butts in order to get elected and they’re mad that he did it his way.
Outside of these two reasons, criticism from folks like Maxine Waters just doesn’t make much sense to me. Waters doesn’t have a lot of leeway in criticizing Obama about jobs when her district has been dirt poor for decades and the best job prospect for most of her constituents last year was playing an extra in a video from The R.E.D. Album.
This one goes out to Barack Obama for finally releasing his long form birth certificate for public perusal earlier this year. I always thought the whole question about whether or not Barack Obama was actually born in the United States was just some racist clap-trap by people who just couldn’t accept the idea of a Black man becoming president of the United States. I appeared on a local newscast the day he released the certificate and said as much.
The whole Birther movement was an example of “Scooby Doo Logic”. We were supposed to believe that Barack Obama fooled Hillary Clinton, John McCain, the FBI, CIA and every single media outlet on the planet about this birth – and he would have gotten away with it too if it weren’t for those meddling conspiracy theorists and their dog!
The “I can do anything you can do better” Award
This one goes out to President Barack Obama for hunting down and killing Osama Bin Laden who had apparently been hiding out in plain sight in Pakistan for almost a decade. The significance of this move on the part of the president cannot be overlooked and the controversy it stoked is equally important for Black politics.
First, the president pulled off something that George Bush had been claiming he was dedicated to doing for 8 years, finding and killing the man responsible for 9-11 terror attacks. Of course I always thought W’s commitment to finding Osama was up there with O.J.’s pledge to find the “Real Killer” on every golf course in South Florida.
The “Unintentional Comedian of the Year” Award
Herman Cain will be sorely missed. I never thought that I would find another politician who brought the unintentional comedy as high as Jimmy “The Rent is Too Damn High” McMillan, but Herman did it less than a year later. Herman Cain’s foolishness gave us a singing Mike Tyson, a new flavor of Ben and Jerry’s and a newfound respect for Pokemon. The former Godfather’s Pizza magnate’s Producers-like attempt to win the Republican nomination was almost a side-show joke … until it wasn’t. Cain had always been popular amongst the conservative base, but didn’t seem to get much traction over the summer as the GOP elite desperately looked for someone else to join the field.
However, once Rick Perry flamed out, and it was clear that Chris Christie wouldn’t run, Republican primary voters were looking for a new flavor of the month and Herman fit the bill. His popularity was confirmed when after rising to the top of the pre-primary polls other candidates on stage felt compelled to actually attack his ridiculous 9-9-9 tax plan as Satanic.
On the positive side, I always thought that Herman Cain’s Black-SteveForbes impersonation was a sign of progress in American politics.
The “Grassroots vs. Astroturf” Award
The Occupy Wall Street movement might be a distant memory by the time the spring rolls around, and that will be a shame for American politics, because for awhile it represented a sea change in American politics. On the surface many press outlets tried to depict thousands of Americans occupying public space to protest corporate greed as some sort of hippie-backlash that lacked substance, morals or a real agenda.
None of those things were true, but that is how a movement will be depicted when it is not funded by millions of dollars in lobbyist money to create a proto-party from the right.
Occupy Wall Street, and subsequent Occupations across the nation and the globe were a clear sign that the right wing in America wasn’t the only group that was angry.
This article also appeared online at Politic365.com.