The Tragicomedy of Black Politics in the Age of Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

You know Black folks are in trouble when a Saturday Night Live skit provides more insight into African American politics than all the Black so-called political “analysts” at MSNBC. “Most African Americans are wholly unconcerned about Obama’s actual legislative and executive agenda.” The people are left defenseless, for the sake of an icon in the White House.

The Tragi-Comedy of Black Politics in the Age of Obama

A Black Agenda Radio commentary by executive editor Glen Ford

Was there anything that Obama could do that would cause him to lose these Black folks’ support?”


Since the beginnings of Obamamania, we at Black Agenda Report have traced the appalling disintegration of Black politics at its most fundamental level: the evaporation of critical thinking when it comes to the actual policies of The First Black President. In speeches and in articles, I have often noted that much of Black America has ceased expressing their own political convictions on issues of war and peace and social justice, in favor of upholding whatever position Barack Obama seems to be taking. It is not that Blacks have embraced Obama’s aggressive militarism, his intimate relationship with Wall Street, or his relentless assaults on the social safety net. Rather, most African Americans are willfully oblivious of the nuts and bolts of what this president has wrought, or in the details of his plans for the future. They are wholly unconcerned about Obama’s actual legislative and executive agenda. The subject hardly comes up. As we wrote just two months ago, “The topic of Black conversation is usually not ‘What is Obama doing,” but, rather, “How is he doing?’”

So, it was somewhat disconcerting to see NBC’s Saturday Night Live’s recent five-minute skit about a fictitious Black public affairs program called, “How’s He Doing,” which the host described as “the show where the Black voter takes a frank and honest look at President Obama and asks, How’s he doing?”

In the sketch, Obama could do no wrong. Actors playing a writer for Ebony Magazine and a political science professor from Spelman College came up with comical rationalizations for the NSA spying revelations and the shaky start of Obamacare. They could not imagine breaking with Obama, whether he chose to become a Muslim, a Jew, a Scientologist or even an atheist. Was there anything that Obama could do that would cause him to lose these Black folks’ support? Apparently not.

They could not imagine breaking with Obama.”

It was a well done skit – and funny, in the moment. And then, at commercial break, deeply sad – not because it reflected the truth, but because the truth is much worse than a comedy sketch. It is not just that Obamacare’s web site is a disaster, but that his healthcare plan is a Republican scheme that will condemn additional millions of Americans to an early death, especially Black and poor people. The NSA spying revelations are more than an embarrassment; they reveal plans for a police state such as the world has never seen – and we know what American police states do to Black people. Those who are caught up in Obama’s spy web will have no recourse to the courts, under his preventive detention without trial regime. Obama maintains a “Kill List” and is as eager as any Republican to massacre tens of thousands in aggressive wars. He has already gone public with his plans to cut Social Security, on which Blacks disproportionately depend.

None of this is fiction, and it’s not a bit funny. At the end of the Saturday Night Live skit, the actors have a huge laugh at the very idea that things might have been better under Mitt Romney. But Black people and most of Saturday Night Live's white audience would have resisted a President Mitt Romney if he had sought preventive detention and more U.S. foreign wars and cuts in Social Security. But, they let Barack Obama get away with it – which is why he is the more effective evil, and why Wall Street and the Pentagon have the last laugh.

For Black Agenda Radio, I’m Glen Ford. On the web, go to

BAR executive editor Glen Ford can be contacted at [email protected].



I fervently hope so, although,

with this warming thing going on, it may be too late.

Everybody try to enjoy yourselves and be good to everybody, every day.  It is a real nice path.


I totally disagree with the statement "his healthcare plan is a Republican scheme that will condemn additional millions of Americans to an early death, especially Black and poor people. "  Republicans had NOTHING to do with ObamaCare.  I don't recall one Republican votng for it. This whole disaster was pushed through Congress by the Democratic Party ..including many of the same ones who are running from it now. 

Ann Coulter:

McConnell not only voted against Obamacare, but presided over a Senate minority in which every single Republican voted against Obamacare, even that idiot McCain.

The Most Effective Evil

It is a sad thing to see a people who once called ourselves the conscience of the nation, grovel before the image of Obam. The call of vicarious identification with those in power must be strong. Sadly as a Christain people many Obam supporerts are in idolatrous worship of him. Add to that many Obam supporters are suffering from the battered spouse syndrome in relation to him.

How do we snap our people out of this? What could Obam do that would make Blacks leave him?  I know I don't know.  Obam supporters tell me they are proud that Obam and his family are in the White House.  Does not pride precede a fall?  Perhaps the Black community has been preconditioned to be in this state.  We don't question prechears either.

Sometimes great evils are brought down by small things. Tape on the door at the Watergate. Romney's 47% remark. What arrogant step will Obam over look that will cause his house of cards to fall in the eyes of Black Americans.?  Time will tell.



Social Security

I'm a big fan Glen but I have to take exception with your remark concerning Black Americans being excessively dependent on Social Security. Considering the fact that few of us, Black or White, are independently wealthy, most American Seniors are very dependent on Social Security and any assumption that one race is more dependent than others on this 80 year old program only gives additional ammunition to those who would scrap this very important product of the New Deal to further enrich the wealthy dynasties who have long profitted from Wall Street and, for years, have had an inordinate amount of control over our system of government !

Our First Black President

We still are looking for a Black President.  From the beginning I have stated that Obama is not.  He could not be.  He did not grow up with what is required to be Black.  Black is a state of mind, a way of thinking that is taught to you by your Black parents, Black extended family and Black community.  It is not automatic.  Obama does not know what Black is.  There was no one in his life to teach him. The most detrimental effect of his presidency is acheived by calling him Black.  By doing so, it will be said that you had one of your own and he did nothing for you, so why should we.

I like the skit.  I have run across this as so many Blacks are blind to what he really is.  We were looking for someone anti-war as we traditionally are.  We were looking for an end to all the injustices of war.  Instead we have more than many White men have ever issued.  We were looking for someone pro-the people of America and not the wealthy.  We have an reverse Robin Hood in office.  We were looking for the compassion and social justice of our African culture. We received the cold selfish western greed of White men.  Black is more than a skin color.  It is not our current President. 


Did anybody else pick up on this sick story that seems to have been largely ignored by the mainstream media?

"Atlanta Jewish Times publisher Resigns over Obama 'assassination' column
Andrew Adler suggested Israel should assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons program.

Reuters - 19.5.11 U.S.
By Haaretz
Published 21:50 23.01.12

The owner and publisher of the Atlanta Jewish Times, Andrew Adler, who suggested Israel should assassinate U.S. President Barack Obama, has resigned from his post, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency reported on Monday.

Adler, who has since apologized for his article, listed three options for Israel to counter Iran’s nuclear weapons in an article published in his newspaper last Friday. The first is to launch a pre-emptive strike against Hamas and Hezbollah, the second is to attack Iran’s nuclear facilities and the third is to “give the go-ahead for U.S.-based Mossad agents to take out a president deemed unfriendly to Israel in order for the current vice president to take his place and forcefully dictate that the United States’ policy includes its helping the Jewish state obliterate its enemies.”

Adler goes on to write: “Yes, you read “three correctly.” Order a hit on a president in order to preserve Israel’s existence. Think about it. If have thought of this Tom-Clancy-type scenario, don’t you think that this almost unfathomable idea has been discussed in Israel’s most inner circles?"

According to JTA's report, Adler announced Monday that he is “relinquishing all day-to-day activities effective immediately,” and that he named John McCurdy as interim managing editor."