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Why A Cappuccino Won’t Win the Presidential Election

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Barack Obama won’t win the presidential election. He just can’t win. He’s too black. He’s too white. Whatever you want to say, he is one thing: he’s a living cappuccino, and it's why he won’t win.

For some reason or another, Americans demand that people have concrete, divisible, political stances: either you’re for or against a particular political policy, mandate, proposal, or result. Americans, it seems, do not like people who are too ambiguous with their political ideals, and it might have something to do with a perception that if a person can’t take a political stance, then they somehow lack the courage and conviction to be a politician, let alone president. President George W. Bush might be an idiot, but at least we all pretty much can know what to expect from him based on his political values. With Obama, nobody knows who he is, or what he represents.

If you look at Obama's official Senate website, you’ll notice that he hardly mentions anything about civil rights. One section even outlines his political issues and explains what he believes regarding the war in Iraq, illegal immigration, and ethical issues. But the issue of civil rights is notably absent with one minor and important detail: at the end of his biography, he notes that he was the first African American to be president of the Harvard Review.  He wants us to acknowledge that and he also wants us to acknowledge that he is not resting on his civil rights laurels, if he even has any. For all we know, he may very well have obtained his political standing simply because he was an African American playing the “game” in a white-dominated world. For that, we should give kudos, he says, as evidences of his statement regarding the Harvard Review.

It doesn’t stop there, though. Obama continues to border between “too white” and “too black” in terms of his political views. He seemingly has a maddening inability to take a concrete stand on the racial issue, which seems to beg more criticism heaped upon him because he is, after all, a racial minority. If he can’t be a civil rights leader, blacks seem to say, then he is just simply “too white.” If he can be a strong civil rights leader, many blacks and whites will complain that he is “too black.”

The guy can’t win. And he won’t.

His meteoric rise will be his ultimate downfall. Here is a man who overcame odds of some sort to become a powerful minority within the political system. Some part of his success came because he was black; some of it can be attributed to his work ethic; and still, aside from innumerable variables, a little luck probably helped too.

But, liberals seem disenchanted with him because he doesn’t have the political resume of a Rev. Jesse Jackson (and his 100 children out of wedlock); he doesn’t have the political charisma of Chicago Mayor Richard Daley; and he certainly doesn’t have the civil rights convictions that Jackson or even Al Sharpton seem to have with regard to political issues. Many African Americans would be calling Obama an “Uncle Tom” if it weren’t for the fact that he’s the first viable black presidential candidate since, well, Rev. Jackson in the early 1980s.

Conservatives feel Obama is merely pretending to be white and not “black enough.” He doesn’t seem to lay political issues with open segues for racial issues and doesn’t do enough “civil rights” advocacy through litigation or legislative action. In short, Obama may be a great black politician having overcome huge and long odds to reach the pinnacle he’s reached now, but conservatives may only deem him as a “token” black presidential candidate to keep the masses of blacks satisfied with the political status quo of racial progress as defined by the number of black presidential candidates.

This reminds me of the recent student strikes at Gallaudet University, the nation’s primary deaf institution. In the mid 1980s, President I. King Jordan ascended to the school’s presidency after students complained the previous president wasn’t “deaf enough.” When President Jordan announced his impending retirement in early 2006 and named a presidential suitor in Jane K. Fernandes, students revolted because of an impression that Fernandes wasn’t “deaf enough.”

Fernandes, you should know, is deaf and uses sign language. But people within the deaf community decried that Fernandes didn’t use the “language” of deaf people (American Sign Language) and doesn’t support ASL-driven deaf culture because Fernandes believes deaf people by and large need to move away from accepted models of disability and deafness. But, that didn’t matter to the students – all that mattered was that they wanted someone to agree with what they wanted, and when things don’t go their way, they resorted to strikes. (Fernandes was eventually forced to resign by the board at Gallaudet, and Sen. John McCain abruptly resigned from the same board in protest of the student strikes.)

Obama would do well to learn from Fernandes and should start picking a racial stance and sticking with it until the end. But until he does that, he will forever be labeled as a cappuccino – neither too white, nor too dark. Like Fernandes, Obama has some support from multiple groups – blacks and whites – but he is in danger of being swamped by civil rights issues, which is something he has hardly addressed.

Ironies of Starbucks being next to my gym aside, I can’t help but feel sorry for Obama. Here’s a man who overcame long odds, and played the “game” quite masterfully – too masterfully, in fact – and has the potential to be President. It’s just that the way he came to prominence will be his undoing, and that is also ironic.

Still, I can’t help but remember the immortal words of Louis Armstrong in his song, “What a wonderful world”:

The colors of the rainbow so pretty in the sky
Are also on the faces of people going by
I see friends shaking hands saying how do you do
They're really saying I love you.

I just want to know, is cappuccino a color of the rainbow? (Rev. Jackson, please take note.)

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About Paotie

  • moonraven

    Oh my, I guess I should have copyrighted the “cappuccino” tag.

    He’s cappuccino, all right–but not the real deal. He’s cappuccino from a jar.


  • Ellen

    You don’t quite have the Gallaudet story right. In the late 1980s, the students protested because the president the Board selected wasn’t deaf at all. It wasn’t about being deaf enough. It was a civil rights movement that allowed deaf people to be in charge of their own institutions of higher learning. The recent protest had little in common with the protest that swept I. King Jordan into the presidency at Gallaudet. Instead, an angry mob decided that Jane Fernandes, a talented, bright deaf woman, did not fit the model of what they thought a deaf person should be. She did not come up through the deaf school ranks. She was instead educated in mainstream schools and didn’t learn how to sign until she was in her 20s. And one more thing. She never resigned. She never stopped fighting. Her contract was rescinded by Gallaudet’s Board of Trustees in a total cave in to the mob.

  • Tayler

    Ellen, you’re completely wrong. It wasn’t about Fernandes’ deafness or how she was raised–it was with a lack of leadership she managed to run KDES into ruins, her lack of leadership in her 6 years as University Provost. All the while of the 2006 Gallaudet protests, Fernandes attempts to show she was eclectic as a deaf person backfired and split and divided the community. In her repeat defenses (often under the glaring media spotlight), she accused specific groups of the deaf community of not being ready or accepting of what the future brought deaf people (cochlear implants, for one). All these actions under pressure brought out her true colors.

    Compare Fernandes’ dividing accusations with the interim President, Dr. Robert Davila’s, campaign titled “Team Gallaudet”. Leaders bring people together, rather than divide.

    Cappuccinos Can Win, too

    As you can see, Dr. Davila is a cappuccino and he is winning.

  • Paotie

    Obama lacks the courage to make a political stance because he plays to not lose.

    Fernandes played the political game to the hilt, gambled, and lost. At least people knew where Fernandes stood on her issues – unlike Obama, who seems perpetually ambiguous as the mysterious partner in the SNL skit, “Ambiguously Gay Duo” with regard to his political/racial beliefs. That may be why many blacks have a heard time accepting Obama.

  • Aku

    It could be me but the Democrat strategy, in general, for the last election was to not take a position on issues other than being the Anti-Bush, and it was a winning strategy for the congress. Obama, for the moment, takes this tact, but I doubt it will last too long once the primaries really get going.

    I doubt it would be for the presidency. People tend to like stances from politicians, even though they can, and often do, abandon them, because it gives voters some idea what they would do in office, and probably has less to do with being indecisive on the issues.

  • Candi Sancerre

    Fernandes was unjustly denied the presidency of Gallaudet University because she was perceived to be “not deaf enough.” Now here comes a parallel argument that Barack Obama cannot win the U.S. presidency because he is perceived as “not Black enough.” These two incidents show how much work America has to do on respecting and including all people.

    “Not deaf enough” and “not black enough” are very, very dangerous “isms” and we need to understand them and stop them from being perpetuated. I would venture to ask if the same evil motives are at work that motivated Hitler in Nazi Germany. The drive to create a perfect world and a perfect group of people to live in it seems a common denominator. If Black people could only create the perfect Black man … if white Deaf people could only create a university that suited them perfectly! If only … they could be exclusive and exist unto themselves dominating their university. This is evil if you ask me.

    Once the protestors understood that the “not deaf enough” argument would not play well in the public, they changed it two or three times (first it was that she was aloof, then she didn’t smile enough, then she was married to a hearing man) until finally they hit upon leadership. But the argument about Fernandes’ leadership is directly tied to the perception that she was not deaf enough. Not deaf enough to ban the use of voice while signing in the school cafeteria! Not deaf enough to believe that the school had to be welcoming to many different kinds of deaf people! Not deaf enough to insist that both black and white deaf students receive an equitable education at the school! Not deaf enough to care about the privileged status of white Deaf culture members at the school and at the expense of all other deaf students who are different in any way (e.g., users of cochlear implants).

    Interim President Davila is not challenging the status quo. Gallaudet will be on “cruise control” as long as he is there. He is not demonstrating the kind of strong leadership Gallaudet needs. And sooner or later, the school will have to hire a true leader or it will go to rack and ruin. Leadership of a diverse Gallaudet University, as a diverse America, requires different skills than what has been expected up until now. All the fluffy steamed milk in the world won’t make the cappucino Davila is serving work.

    There’s a similar point about Obama. If he doesn’t demonstrate traditional leadership of the kind expected by the Black community (e.g., Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton, MLK, Jr), he won’t be a leader in the eyes of many Black people — same as Fernandes was not in the eyes of strong Deaf people. But Barack is a brilliant leader who deserves to be elected and so was Fernandes.

  • Nick Kasoff

    When I was a kid, one of the mothers in our carpool was half black, half Puerto Rican. As a naive small-town white kid, I asked her what she was. She responded that she was black – her words, “One drop and you’re poisoned.”

    I don’t think she meant it in a bad way, but the fact is, to the small but significant number of Americans who won’t vote for a black candidate, Obama isn’t cappuccino, or even chai latte – he’s black. And for this reason, regardless of whether the “black leaders” support him, Obama is doomed.

  • geeves

    Not sure if any of you have seen a documentary called “So Goes The Nation”…about the election as it unfolded in Ohio in ’04…

    a certain individual (don’t remember a name) made an interesting point, one that appears to be relevant again with the appearance of Obama as a candidate…

    He said that a big part of the Republican success and the Democratic failure was message. A consistent message – even if flawed or inaccurate – is preferred to an inconsistent message.

    Republicans win because they pick a message and stick with it, Democrats lose because they spend too much time trying to find stances and opinions that appease everyone and wind up appeasing no one.

    Obama appears to be treading on similarly tenuous turf…

  • JustOneMan

    “What we really need is a good, clean, well spoken octoroon candidate….”

    Joe “The Plagiarist” Biden

  • Zedd


    I am not sure what you mean by civil rights. He is an attorney that has been fighting for the rights of the poor, African American poor, to be more specific… I think that is civil rights.

    If you mean the civil rights of Jesse Jackson, Obama is in his 40s. He was born during the struggle and isn’t attached to the old way of “getting things done”. He is a modern AA. Most of us born after 1960 are baffled by the marches and pleadings. We are looking for practical SOLUTIONS, which are negotiated through effective channels which don’t alienate us. We were born into a word that is integrated so we don’t choose to separate ourselves. We are not fighting the old struggle. Obama represents the energy and focus of the AA of today. Al Sharpton, as smart as he is, is baffling to many of us. Starting from the hair to his erratic agenda. He is all over the place and always seems to be overly impassioned, all of the time. You’d think he’d be used to the issues and would be calm by now. Jesse with the rhymes is just cartoonish, as much as I respect him. He has been affective but he lacks composure and dignity.

    If by Black enough you mean rough, clownish and consistently emotional, thank goodness he is not “Black enough”.

    I saw an interview by Ed Gordon with Maxine Waters and a couple other African American congressmen, members of the Congressional Black Caucus. Their position was that “we want someone who will support our agenda, no matter the race”. You can bet that Obama will/does support their platform.

    You may be right about his momentum picking up too early. That may be his demise. There may be an Obama fatigue by the time election day comes… He’s still young. There will be another chance.

  • Clavos

    Zedd says:

    He’s still young. There will be another chance.

    Agreed. That is, in fact, the most likely scenario for Mr. O, IMO.

  • JustOneMan

    Please…the guys a light weight…to sort of quote mike tyson…”Obama is not even worthy of picking up Ronald Regans jockstrap!:)


  • Zedd


    You haven’t been listening to him have you. Come on…., tell the truth.

  • JustOneMan

    um…. er…. zeeddd you post is so…um…INCOFUCINGHERANT….WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU TALING ABOUT!!!

  • Zedd


    Are you okay??

    What is confusing about me saying that you haven’t listened to Obama (you know the topic of the thread)????

  • JustOneMan

    Yes I have listend to him…once you have heard one speach you have heard thema all…”Im for change”…”take black..I mean take back America”…”blah..blah”…”I didnt vote for the war”….”Im black really I am…”

    He is full of crap…as the great James Brown once said…”he talks a lot but he dont say much!”…He is better suited for cohosting entertainment tonight or Regis Philbin… I can see it now…the “Regis and Obama Show”


  • The One and Only Ridor

    Fernandes has claimed that the protests were about her not deaf enough — that is her claim.

    Many students, including myself as a blogger, protested against the status quo and Fernandes because WE experienced what it is like to deal with incompetent folks like Jane Fernandes.

    What she did to many is despicable. I could go on for pages with what she did to many of us. But nah, I’ll not waste my time because many readers/commentators already decided that it is all about “not deaf enough” card.

    And you wonder why Deaf people are quick at dismissing hearing people’s thoughts?


  • JustOneMan

    Hey Reardoor…checked out url…pretty funny it is a stire site right???…hmmmm…”the most controversal gay deaf blogger” lol lol lol (no pun intended)…pretty funny…

    So its ok for deaf people to dis people ith hearing emparements…pretty funny stuff…

    Heres a brain teaser for you …If 2 deaf gay men are screwing their brain out in the woods…do they make any sound???

    JOM…”The Most Controversal Straight Un-Deaf Blooger in the World”

  • JustOneMan

    Hey Reardoor…checked out url…pretty funny it is a stire site right???…hmmmm…”the most controversal gay deaf blogger” lol lol lol (no pun intended)…pretty funny…

    So its ok for deaf people to dis people ith hearing emparements…pretty funny stuff…

    Heres a brain teaser for you …If 2 deaf gay men are screwing their brains out in the woods…do they make any sound???

    JOM…”The Most Controversal Straight Un-Deaf Blooger in the World”

  • The One and Only Ridor

    One needs to read JOM’s comments to understand why many Deaf people chose to dismiss hearing people’s comments.

    The day the hearing people takes us seriously on different issues is the day the pigs will fly.

    Candy: We attacked Jane K. Fernandes because she married a hearing guy? Oh, please. James was popular figure at Gallaudet with many Deaf individuals, unlike HIS wife.

    JOM: One last thing — where did I say that I’m the controversial deaf gay blogger on my blog? I happen to be the most controversial deaf blogger in America. Oh, you had to throw the gay subject in — typical homophobe.


  • zingzing

    so deaf people don’t like people who hear. okay. the world is a fucked up place. people can learn to despise anything.

    ridor–no one likes JOM. no one really pays attention to him. he’s just fun to make fun of now and again.

  • JustOneMan

    No ridor… you did.. i didnt make your deafness and gayness an issue…YOU DID…no you have to hand this stuff out there so you can run and hide…”people pick on me because Im deaf…people pick on me because im queer”….gee a real victim…the reality people disagree with you because your ideas and position are idiotic and pathetic…like others who do not advertise their sexuality (I suggest you save that for the chat rooms and peep booths)

    you just happen to be gay, deaf, idiotic and pathetic..


  • JustOneMan

    Oh and by the way…make sure you pay attention and take notes on everything zingzing posts…everyone in here thinks he is an absolute fucking genius! Show you the level of intellect in here doesnt it…so you should feel right at home!


  • The One and Only Ridor

    Where did I complain about being deaf and being gay, JOM? You’re such lame-assed character.

    I merely explained the reasons why deaf people chose to dismiss hearing people’s comments because they failed to communicate, reason and discuss on an appropriate level.

    Nowhere did I say that I hated them just because they can hear, ZingZang!

    JOM, you chose to dwell on things that were not there in the first place — so arguing with an idiot who could not bark in the right directions are pointless. In fact, your little joke about deaf screwing thing with light bulb could not barely make me chuckle at all. It is so old subject when hearing people attempted to use this to make themselves feel supreme. If it makes you feel big, good for you!

    See a therapist, please.


  • JustOneMan

    Ladies and gentlemen of the Jury…I rest my case!

    Ridor… Thanks for proving my point!


  • zingzing

    “Nowhere did I say that I hated them just because they can hear, ZingZang!”

    well i didn’t say it was because they can hear. i suppose. it’s just that they can. i don’t get it… so do you not like people who hear?

    jom: “make sure you pay attention and take notes on everything zingzing posts…everyone in here thinks he is an absolute fucking genius!”

    thank you! it’s great to feel appreciated. especially by someone as “special” as yourself…

  • JustOneMan

    What a country…me and zing beating down a deaf gay guy!!!Strange bedfellows…

    dont get any ideas ridor!

    [JOM: STOP changing people’s names in order to belittle them. Comments Editor]

  • zingzing

    i ain’t beating no one down. i just don’t see where having problems with non-deaf people gets you. it’s a big segment of the population. i’m sure he’s not saying that he hates all non-deaf people. but i’m not sure…

  • Baritone

    Just One Man? I doubt it. There are plenty of people like yourself who seem to talk with their heads permanently wedged up their asses. That’s why you all spew such an endless load of crap. Hate mongering, right wing, reactionary buttheads.

    Ya’ll have a nice day now, y’hear?

  • JustOneMan

    Gee Baritone…you know you are so right I think Ill change my way…how could I have been so wrong for so long?

    Ill think ill turn into a bush hating, terror denying, antiamerican, proabortion, proILLEGAL immigration, anti-marriage, lower all standards, pro racial quota FUCKING MORON [Edited]


  • Baritone


    Thank YOU for proving MY point!

  • Washington DC

    I am horrified. This was such a racist and ignorant blog entry.

    Paotie, you should better research what you’re drawing parallels to before putting a foot in your mouth. Especially the Gallaudet part.

    You have made such a fool out of yourself before a nation and this website should be ashamed for publishing your blog.

    To show that I’m not as ignorant as you are, at least I’m able to prove that you’re drastically ignorant in your “not deaf enough”/”not black enough” song.

  • smrtrdenu

    This article is a good reason why the world hates us. Oh, and also another reminder that one can never get away from ignorance.