Pigs, Fish and Politics

By Dr. Selwyn R. Cudjoe
September 12, 2008

Sarah PalinSarah Palin, it seems, is about to topple the Presidential apple cart. My friend Louis Lee Sing (we were in Chicago to look at the T&T vs. USA soccer match) is afraid. “Selwyn,” he says, “it seems as though Palin might do it.” It’s all about the best made plans of mice and men and thunder striking from afar. Here, in Chicago, the home of Obama, there is cautious optimism. In Boston where I teach, there is tentativeness about how to interpret Palin’s candidacy; and in New York where I visited the last weekend to take my daughter to dinner for her birthday signs of apprehension abound.

The national polls have shifted which gives Obama and his supporters little comfort. Contrary to previous polls, McCain is now in the lead. His bounce from the Republican convention has lasted for about a week, an unusually long time in presidential politics. Savoring the unexpected, Republican strategists have refused to allow Palin to speak to the press. She was schedule to conduct her first national interview on the anniversary of 9/11, the same day that her son is scheduled to be shipped out to serve in Iraq.

The stars seemed to have aligned with the Republicans. What looked so bleak a few weeks ago appears bright today. McCain’s gamble seems to be paying off.

However, one should not move so fast. Palin is still an unknown quality and much that is coming out about her dealings in Alaska may dim her glow and derail McCain’s presidential ambition. She said she was against the $400 million federally funded “Bridge to Nowhere.” It turns out that she only came out against it when it became a national embarrassment. Yet, she kept the money and used it in Alaska anyhow.

Then there is the question of being paid to stay at her home. Over the last nineteen months she billed Alaska 17,059 dollars when she stayed in Anchorage, about 45 miles from her home in Wasilla, to conduct the state’s business. This is an unusual arrangement. It is like paying Patrick Manning a stipend of $500 (TT) anytime he left the Prime Minister’s residence in Port of Spain and decided to stay at his home in San Fernando.

And the economy stinks. The USA owes more than $53 trillion (US) in debt, most of it to China and unemployment has skyrocketed to 6.2 per cent. The surplus that Clinton left the Republicans has escalated into a deficit of $407 billion. With trillions of dollars lost, the government spent close to $200 billion to bail out Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac as their declining value threatened to sink the world’s economy. These institutions finance nearly three quarters of US mortgages and nearly every major developed country has invested in their bonds.

The US mortgage crisis remains. Lehman Brothers Holdings, the No. 4 US Investment Bank, continues to be hobbled by its mortgage debts. Its company shares fell by 45 per cent earlier this week. Housing foreclosures are at a record high and the US still spends billions of dollars in Iraq. Close to eighty percent of Americans feel that the country is heading in the wrong direction. The US Congressional Budget Office predicts that the US economy will grow 1.5 per cent this year and slip to 1.1 per cent growth in 2009. Economically, things have not looked as bad since the 1970s.

Governor Palin is about to be placed a heart beat away from the Presidency at a time of a rudderless America. There is no doubt that racism is at work in this election but it is difficult to see white Americans cutting off their noses to spoil their faces. It will be tremendously self-wounding if they placed the same party that has been in Washington for the past eight years and under whose watch things have taken a turn for the worse back into power. The party that ruled Washington for the last eight years cannot transform itself and its message over the next four years.

Palin’s stars may be on the rise but the realities of the US economic condition will bring Americans down to the ground. The performance of the US economy is likely to remain the key to the election’s outcome. Obama has to let the people feel that he empathizes with their hunger’s pangs. He has to go from cool to hot; dispassionate to passionate; sophisticated to scrappy.

Neither blind faith nor buoyant optimism leads me to conclude that Obama will become the next president of the United States. Americans will vote their hopes rather than their fears; their future rather than their past. In other words, they would do what is in their best economic interest. Even McCain has conceded that Americans are looking for change rather than the same ole same oh.

Obama is correct: “You can put lipstick on a pig, it’s still a pig. You can wrap an old fish in a piece of paper called change, and it’s still going to stink after eight years.” It’s a message Americans will accept grudgingly.

13 Responses to “Pigs, Fish and Politics”


  • “it is difficult to see white Americans cutting off their noses to spoil their faces.” Of course they can , and it would not be the first or last time it’s done.Mc Cain and his Republican operatives completely outmanuevered the disorganize , and yes very ill- disciplined Democrats with this tactical move. Most importantly thoes alleged 18 million cracks in the glass celing that claimed to belong to Cilton will finally find a reason to jump ship or stay away from the polls – thus ensuring that he obtain a chance to run again in 2012.
    Perhaps there are some good that can come out of this when Mc Cain takes the oath of office come January after electoral victory.Calculating Black American political leaders like Obama and Congressman Harold Ford, will finally get it, and subscribe to the logical view that it is virtually impossible to be ” half pregnant” when it comes to race and serious pressing social and political issues in divided America.
    Many more black elites in the middle class will finally see the need to put their own house in order before attempting higher office where they remain at the mercy of perinially racist whites, asians , and euro-hispanics that will never fully accept the fact that anyone with a tinge of African blood is capable of doing a competent job in terms of leadership, irrespective of the levels of education or experience they were able to amass beforehand.
    There are still for example thousands of black Americans that are still not registered , nor intends to even vote come November after all the sacrifices that were made to enfranchise them by previous generations.
    Many more have lost the rights to vote do the imprisonment policies -that commenced in the country at the end of slavery. Yet black intellectuals and power brokers show limited concerns to the fact that many of their young people are heading for prisons instead of college.
    Millions of black immigrants in America or striving to get there ,are treated with scant courtesy,and blanant hostility by native African American, while other racial groups are fully aware of the benefits of boosting their own population via skewed immigration lobbying/ policies ,and quickly ensuring that they become part of the main stream in terms of citizenships.We here in the Caribbean grin and scratch our heads in confusions as we suffer the brain drain to America and Canada , and see the mass return of our young deportees that are sent back to the land of their birth for traffic violations , first time misdemeanors and the likes . Yet at the same time many here like their lost African American counterparts will be surprise come November when the Republican two most useless and incompetent candidates get into the oval office once more on a landslide- and people say that politics is for the weak at heart.
    Perhaps more of our local political Phd commentators should leave this bloddy sport alone and simply remenesce on gullible final year students that will accept any and every opinion spewed in the classrooms as they prepare to regugitate same verbatim in a future final paper to acquire an elusive passing grade.
    Nice try however, but please do not be afraid to tell black folks whereever they are,that they must first start by loving and believing in themselves , then start working together globally by taking proactive actions to create real CHANGES, as no one will hand them anything on a platter.

  • “There is no doubt that racism is at work here.” Huh? A pretty absolute statement, I would say. While American certainly cannot change their history (and it’s a sorry one at that in regards to men and women of color), we are moving on to the point that we have a black candidate for President who could still very well win it. He is only down 48-45 percent.

    Why play the race card? Maybe it’s the fact that Obama is being judged not by the color of his skin, but by the content of his character (which is exactly what MLK, Jr. desired). Obama has zero executive experience, zero pieces of legislation that he has led, spent one full term in the U.S. Senate (spending 1/2 of that campaigning).

    This column seems to be all about what blacks are doing rather than taking the same honest look at the Democratic candidate than they are the Republican vice-presidential candidate. Obama’s VP has TONS more experience that he does, and Palin does as well, receiving high marks as a reformer from both Democrats and Republicans.

    For years, so many were wanting to move past race and simply look at credentials. Let’s do just that!

  • American politics and foreign policy will neither change nor deviate under Obama, he is a tool of the Council on Foreign Relations(CFR) and their agenda, just like Bush was for the his family and friends oil, energy and defense companies

    Obama will also be a used to re-colonize Africa by calling for military bases in every country like the one the US had down Chagville. to protect their new oil”interest”.

    Obama will also intensify the “Heroine” US drug trade” so called war in Afghanistan. and secure the pipeline the US is building to the caspian sea.
    This is the change Obama speaks of!

    He is no friend of Black people or anyone else who has suffered and seeks a better world for that matter.

    Do not be fooled, you will simply be choosing the lesser of 2 evils, but evil, though charismatic, non the less.

    Clinton pushed Coke to the USA with George Bush Sr, when he was Governor of Arkansas.

    Bush Sr ran Coke with Noreiga and Oliver North During the “Iran Contra Affair”

    They are all the same

    Just like Manning and Panday!

  • Oh i neglected to mention Sarah Palin will ensure the Drilling of Oil in Alaska and other arctic regions where it is now illegal to do so. As usual they have a win win situation.

    Oh i meant “opium” not heroin

  • there have been 5 blac presidents in american history according to J A Rogers, the late great Yardie anthropoligist.

    this cpntention is supported by other scholars and a masss of historical evidence.

    Abramha Lincoln for example was popularly cartooned during his time as ‘Abraham Africanus’ the first for his obvious blackness.

    and the evidence exposes the affidavit(s?) presented to courts of law prooving that he Lincoln in fact was descended from certain runaway slaves, whose ownership proves to whom Abrham belonged as a chattel descendant…seeking to return him to his owners.

    Obama is not a first as far as i am concerned…and though he is by far the better Candidate than McNasty McCain, I am not excited. the question is in what way is his candidature better than McCains’

    Obama is saner than McCain and he has positioned himself rhetorically in his speeches and camaignliterature in such a way as to give him room to move away from extreme promses and proposals to the centre…even to the left.

    but by how much?

    Obama pointed out that his left critiques werent listenting to him all the time, that he is capitalist and for the american system and way…. which as president he would defend with all his might.

    Obama would be given a chance by the world for the brilliant blac man that he is…a world hoping for some relief,…any relief at all… from the unrelenting and utterly suicidal insanity of the ‘neo-con’ ‘Repuglicans’

    but if Obama promises anyhing other than fine-tuning american monopoly capitalism in the world, putting athe best face possible currently on american attack on the huna species I woud be greatly suprised and happy

    but to put a half decent face on monopoly capitalism is simply to weaken the people and waste time, delay resolution of the class war we have endured for so long now….which resolution alone can result in the essential social evolution that may save humanity…. by producing an incluseive and proper democracy.

    human society must evolve a proper and effective democracy that functions on the simple principle of the well-being and progress of all of society not just a minority part of it.

    it seems to me that humanity evolves such a democracy or we are toast

    McNasty McCain will effect no such delay in a presidency of his, which promises to be pure rapine and plunder, war and general destruction by america in the world and in America itself.

    the people of america and the world will have to rise against their american sponsored leadership and overthrow them quick sharp, in order to have a chance at all.

    a McCain presidency will draw close and clarify the peoples options everywhere…including the american people.

    it would be with McCain/Palin free sheet in the world, pressure to the max for ordinary folk. it would be I gurantee ‘revolt or be destroyed, reduced and ultimate enslavement for ordinary folk

    I am not keen on Obama finessing me to defeat and social loss as an ordinary human being, at serious social disadvantage because of my skin-colour, gender and the negative economic counterpart of those facts for such as me.

    society must evolve anyway. that is the law of nature..evolve, expand or die. minority control of society is incompatible with social progrees of the human species.

    social monoply, economic monopoly by one tiny group of all of human society is equal to premature human extinction.

    an Obama presidency promises only delay of social evoution. it is no way comparable to the quick resolution of social contradictions essential at this crucial point in the human career in nature.

    I am not in favour of an Obama presidency. let him lose! a win for Obama does not benefit the human species. we have a choice to make that is fraught wiht danger…the danger that we may blow ourselves to bits.

    Later or sooner makes no difrerence with that danger. with or without Obama the reolution of the current human social crisis will be fraught.

    nothing short of the global overthrow of capitalism is essential to save humanity.

    make resolution and revolution now them, as soon as possible…. so we may get past it if at all possible…and get on with our global business.

  • Navin
    You should avoid mixing your “writing” with your “smoking”

  • “I am not in favour of an Obama presidency. let him lose! a win for Obama does not benefit the human species”.

    “nothing short of the global overthrow of capitalism is essential to save humanity”.

    On these quotes Navin does make a good point!

  • If Mccain / Palin wins, we will see the emergence of a very dangerous force. The maverick and the gun-totin’ Mom will make US warmongers like we have never seen before, and they will exercise military might beyond belief! The world will become more unstable, especially now with Russia beginning to wake up from a 15-year slumber. Then we have the wannabes like Chavez ever chooking fire! I don’t think that we want trigger happy idiots in the White House.

    Obama may not be the end all and be all, but I think that he would present a more peaceful, constructive choice. Also, it seems that the economic know-how and solutions that Obama seems to represent, may be more beneficial in the longer run….time will definitely tell! Perhaps those white women who shifted to palin will regret their air-headed intelligence….

  • That is a fair depiction. but at the same time lets not forget that it was under Clintons “No fly zone policy” and “selective” bombing of Iraq’s hospitals and infrastructure that Many lives were lost and this world descended into the madness we have today. It was Kennedy that gave the orders to assassinate the leader’s of sovereign nations, such as Fidel Castro and Patrice lumumba, these are examples of “brilliant thinker’s with a more rational, pragmatist approach! Democrats.
    and i don’t see how Chavez can be called wannabe. He has raised the standard of living, by his stance, in the entire continent of Latin America, not just Venezuela, His transformation of the economy to benefit his nations poor has to be commended by any one concerned with the rights of man. There is Free Education, Heath care through out the barrios(Slums) and nation, a booming economy that has been mostly nationalized, and an informed electorate who are very much aware of the laws of their constitution, and the direction the nation and continent is heading, despite the US backed minority opposition attempts to prove otherwise.

  • I dont smoke T man! If I did I would not see the world half as clear as I would like to..as clear as you need to see the world yourself.

    Obama would not really elimnate the violence n the world, the potential for even more…. you say that he would you know?

    Obama is one of them! he has made his choice man! dont you see that!

    dont let skin colour fool you. he is like our westindian elites who already do in office what Obama will do if he wins the presidency..what he has already done as an american senator.

    you may not know but Obama has voted for every appropriations bill in the american congress to fund the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan…despite the fact that he was against the war early.

    Obama has voted for every bill Bush asked for to extend dictatoral power over americans

    I dont know what you are seeing in Obama but it is not what even Obama admits of himself

    man get out of the skin-colur business as far as leadership at these levels is concerned.

    if you want to feel proud of blac achievement in the system that enslaved us I pointed out that Abraham Lincoln…”Abrham Africanus the first” as he was carricatured in the american press of the late 1850’s…. was a blac man like Obama.

    and he Lincoln, hated blac people like dirt.

    Andrew Jackson was also blac, as well as Thomas jefferson himself.

    Warren Harding I belive was also blac… but he was a one-drop type of of blac man. you could not tell by looking at him. but you could tell by looking at the others.

    the pictures/drawings of these famous men we are given are not accurate representions of them.

    so too Alexander Hamilton, the great american money man of whom I did have an accurate picture of, at one time. Hamilton in real life, looked nothing like the whitened offocial picture we are given as Hamilton

    Hamilton of course was born in Nevis, in the westindies.

    so yo can be pround that blac men have already been presidents of america if yu like. I know and i am not proud of that fact. why shoudl I be. it did nutten for me!

    the fact of blac presidents did not a damm thing to mitigate blac suffering and explotation, lyncing and enslavement in america…just like it will mean little or nothing in a postive sense to blac people now, if Obama wins.

    there will be lots of hyoe as there already has been but nothing substantial for blac liberation

    the system incorprated, co-opted, those brilliant and talented blac men in the past…just like it has absorbed Obama currently…indeed all the brilliant and talented blac people who now hover arround the real power in the world.

    if and when they acceed to the power do you think it will mean free bread and honey for you and I?

    dont hold your breath. see Manning in power in Trinidad..or Mbeki In RSA…or all the blac political leades in the states and elsewhere….people like Charlie Rangel, Andrew Young, John Lewis… to get an example of what real blac power, from the top down will be like for such as you and I

    appreciate your observaions Neil L B

  • It’s about affirmative action and social distance. Will Americans prefer a White Woman or a Black man to be their leader. I already know the answer. Just be prepared for more Bush

  • Perhaps I may be a bit short sighted re: Chavez. Living in Canada, I rely on US media for “things Venezuelan”. However, I have a clearer understanding of U.S. issues.

    I understand and appreciate Navin’s views, but we have to remember that electing a new administation could sometimes boil down to selecting the lesser of two evils, as Neil, I think pointed out.

    I certainly don’t view Mr. Obama through racial lenses, and I fully understand that he is American first and African American second, at least where US politics is concerned. We have seen that in his statements re: Iran and Israel, and if he wins, we will see more of this kind of rhetoric and actions.

    However, I certainly support the power by example rather than example by power approach being advocated by the Democrats. Maybe Mr Obama may become the typical politician and do otherwise, OR he may become the ultimate politician and put the people first. Don’t you think that it’s worth the while to find out?

    At any rate, we have a pretty clear idea what Mc Cain/ Palin leadership will bring.

  • If McCain/ Palin win the election we could be facing the end of the world. Don’t be fooled. Iran, North Korea, China, and Russia together are a formidable opponent for the U.S. and it’s allies militarily speaking. The idea that McCain Palin wan’t to drill off shore and in Alaska while exploring alternative forms of energy and constructing numerous nuclear plants throughout the U.S threatens to cut the oil demand severely threatening Opec. They will change the rules of the game to make sure that they are on top like I posted years back about the corrupt leadership in the U.S. always does. Emerging economies are threatening the quality of life fore U.S. citizens. A certain type of U.S. citizen that are a dying breed in America that represent the center of the McCain Palin ticket are starting to politically display their xenophobic global ideas. They want to preserve a way of life that has always been biased at best and one that is not inclusive. They have an outlook that would relegate anyone not like them to second class citizenship. I call it the hypocrissy of the American Democracy.

    By the way, Lincoln only freed the slaves to weaken the power of the South. Jefferson was not Black, but did father several children by his slaves.

    Obama would be the first Black President, but he would be the 44th White President. His intention is a bit too inclusive for me as an American, but I would rather have a world where all can participate in the pursuit of economic happiness rather than a world where one a chosen few can be economically happy based on their values of segregation and xenophobia.

    The worst thing about the McCain Palin ticket is the fact that McCain chose a woman mainly because she is a woman rather than because she was the best qualified person to be his running mate.

    Obama on the otherhand may lack experience in the traditional sense as we currently interpret the definition of experience as it relates to the Presidency, but it is his intentions that make him the better candidate. He actually cares for the people where as McCain cares for some people, some lobbyist, some Business people, and for some xenophobes.

    It’s not a hard choice to make if you have a open heart, and clear mind, but as we know, Americans historically judge books by their covers.

    Keep in mind, a loss for Obama is a win for Jackson, and Rev. Wright. I would hate to see them on television getting paid to say,”I told you so”, but it just may be a reality.

Comments are currently closed.