Saturday, October 27, 2012
Hi. Last Thursday, John Sununu, former Governor of New Hampshire, then White House Chief of Staff for the first President Bush and now advisor to the Romney campaign, was interviewed by CNN’s Piers Morgan. During that interview, he was asked about Republican Colin Powell’s endorsement of President Obama, a Democrat. Colin Powell, retired four-star General and former Secretary of State is, of course, a Black American. Here’s what Mr. Sununu said. You can watch the video for yourself below.
Morgan: “…Colin Powell has decided to opt for President Obama again, despite apparently being still a Republican. Is it time he left the party, you think?”
Sununu: “I’m not sure how important that is. I do like the fact that Colin Powell’s boss, George Herbert Walker Bush, has endorsed Mitt Romney all along and, frankly, when you take a look at Colin Powell, you have to wonder whether that’s an endorsement based on issues or whether he’s got a slightly different reason for preferring President Obama.”
Morgan: “What reason would that be?”
Sununu: “Well, I think when you have somebody of your own race that you’re proud of being President of the United States, I applaud Colin for standing with him.”
Predictably, the press made a big deal about the comment and Mr. Sununu has since retracted his suggestion that issues had nothing to do with Mr. Powell’s decision, but was John Sununu right?
I have no idea what Mr. Powell was thinking, but it’s safe to say that Mr. Sununu was on to something when talking about Black Americans in general.
A poll taken in August indicated 94% of Black American voters favor President Obama, 0% for Mitt Romney. (In 2008, 96% of Black Americans who voted cast their votes for President Obama, but then the choice between candidates was very different then.) Whatever the poll’s possible shortcomings, asking Black Americans who might actually prefer Mr. Romney to effectively say so out loud, do any of you doubt the general point of these results? The question is, were those same Americans white, would the results have been the same?
All of us tend to take pride in the accomplishments of people with whom we identify. “My son, the Doctor.” “Go [insert the name of your home team here]!” Whether we’re Italian or Jewish Americans, whatever, we tend to have a special appreciation for the accomplishments of “our own people,” however distant and unrelated to us they may be. Women have every right to feel good about Hillary Clinton and others of their gender who have done as well. Black people are no exception and have every reason to be proud of President Obama’s extraordinary success, but only up to a point.
What point is that? It’s the point when they (or any of us) put ethnic pride above family and country. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, unemployment among Black Americans overall was 13.4% in September, well above 7.0% for “White” (BLS terminology) Americans. Unemployment among Black Americans 16 to 19 years old was 36.7% and that’s not a typo. If you remember, the rate for all Americans, announced in the first week of October, was 7.8%. And these numbers say nothing about the extent of under-employment among Black Americans or their income levels relative to their countrymen. According to the Census Department, 26.7% of Black Americans, 10.9 million Black Americans are currently living in poverty.
To the extent that President Obama, or any President for that matter, is able to improve the economic status of any American, I’ll ask the question again: Would 94% of Black Americans, given their standing in the economy, be supporting the re-election of President Obama were they white? Or if he was white? Or if it weren’t that they are allowing their ethnic preferences to overwhelm a colorless evaluation of President Obama’s performance?