This weekend, actor Martin Lawrence will reprise his role as FBI Agent Malcolm Turner, a law enforcement crusader who goes undercover as an ever-present figure familiar to most in urban communities, “Big Momma." It got me to thinking about what would happen if someone like Big Momma tossed her big red church hat in the proverbial political ring and ran for elected office.
“You've go to know when to hold 'em. Know when to fold 'em... Know when to walk away and know when to run...” — Kenny Rogers, “The Gambler”
With the recent spate of voluntary retirements announced by departing members of Congress, one can't help but wonder what's going on in Washington these days — and whether or not those who are making an exodus are hearing replays of the gambler's message as they sing their own swan songs.
As Americans, we have come to expect our leaders to stand up for the rights of those who want to be free—calling on other nations to foster democracy and not to squelch it. With the situation developing in Egypt, however, we need to hear more from the White House than labored fence-straddling between what is best for our national interests and the principles we profess to uphold.
As I sat in stunned silence watching President Obama's State of the Union address, I couldn't help but think back to the classic 1968 James Brown hit that seemed quite appropriate for the occasion. “You're like a dull knife—just ain't cutting. You're just talking loud—and saying nothing.”
President Obama has, once again, positioned himself as a political phoenix “rising from the ashes”—that is, if he can get his mojo back with this all-important State of the Union address. To that end, were I in the position of coaching him through this speech, I would admonish President Obama to remember these three key points as he ambles up to the podium on the floor of the U.S. House of Representatives.
Throughout the course of his all too brief life, Dr. Martin Luther King used the power of the spoken word to deliver both messages of warning and redemption for a nation that had not lived up to the true meaning of its creed. Now, as we fast forward nearly fifty years after he delivered his most famous speech on the national mall in Washington, America has its first president of color in Barack Obama.
But I firmly believe that King, operating under the guise of the universal Negro principle, “All my skin folk ain’t my kin folk," would not shy away from criticizing Obama where he found both our nation and our leader lacking.
With Saturday’s murder of US District Judge John Roll of Arizona, who by all accounts was in the wrong place at the wrong time, and the attempted assassination of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords of Tucson, the focus is now on returning civility to our nation. But there’s something missing, as the media rushes to frame this story as one of political discourse run amok. There are gaping lapses in personal protection for elected officials, and it is a true national security threat and a public priority of the highest order if we want to continue to attract talented and caring members of society into public life.