“Dancing Backwards and in High Heels”
I had a friend tell me the other day, the reason why Obama doesn’t say anything about policy or program is because it’s so similar to Clinton’s it would be almost impossible to distinguish the two.
So Clinton does all the work and Obama gets all the credit?
Take for instance, the outreach efforts of Senator Clinton- herself, not her staff- with the gay community. Clinton has marched in Gay Pride parades as both First Lady and as Senator. In addition, she has spoken in front of so many LGBT audiences ranging from the Human Rights Campaign, Empire State Pride Agenda, the Hetrick Martin Institute, PFLAG (Parents, Families, and Friends of Lesbians and Gays), GMHC (Gay Men’s Health Crisis), and the American Foundation for AIDS Research.
But more specifically, she has sat down and given live interviews to LGBT journalists over and over again, some as small as Gay People's Chronicle.
Obama sat for one live interview with The Advocate. He was there with all the other candidates at the Logo forum. No others. Despite repeated requests to his campaign. If they are out there, I’m looking, asking, and not able to find any.
Compare press releases from each candidate about the brutal murder of a gay teen in California, Lawrence King.
“I was deeply saddened by the recent death of 15-year-old Lawrence King who was killed at his school in Oxnard, CA. No one should face intimidation or violence, particularly at school, because of their sexual orientation or the way they express their gender identity"
“We must finally enact a federal hate crimes law to ensure that gay, lesbian and transgender Americans are protected against violent, bias-motivated crimes. We must send a unified message that hate-based crime will not be tolerated.”
“It was heartbreaking to learn about Lawrence King’s death, and my thoughts and prayers go out to his family. King’s senseless death is a tragic example of the corrosive effect that bigotry and fear can have in our society. It’s also an urgent reminder that we need to do more in our schools to foster tolerance and an acceptance of diversity; that we must enact a federal hate crimes law that protects all LGBT Americans; and that we must recommit ourselves to becoming active and engaged parents, citizens and neighbors, so that bias and bigotry cannot take hold in the first place. We all have a responsibility to help this nation live up to its founding promise of equality for all.“
Pretty much the same, right? Clinton’s statement came out the day before Obama’s. And you wonder why I feel like Obama rides on Clinton’s coattails?
Because he does.
At the 1988 Democratic National Convention, Ann Richards said, “If you give us the chance, we can perform. After all, Ginger Rogers did everything that Fred Astaire did. She just did it backwards and in high heels.”
What Richards didn’t live long enough to see was not only do you have to dance backwards in high heels, you have to provide all the policy and program. You have to meet with media large and small and endure being called “emotional,” “strident” and “grating.” You smile through “devious,” “power hungry” and having your ankle size subjected to national scrutiny.
People accuse you of having your 28 year old daughter ‘pimped out,” while your competition puffs away on cigarettes clearly given a free pass, even though he is a parent of two young daughters.
Obama only needs to move forward, in sparkling dancing shoes. By being less specific, he can be the perfect screen onto which America projects our wishes and hope for change.
While Clinton has to do the deep dip backwards to prove she’s the smartest one in the room, bending low so she doesn’t hit her head on the glass ceiling.
My friend is right. Obama doesn’t have anything new and different to say. He doesn’t need to because Clinton has already said it.
I only wonder what he is going to do when Clinton is gone because the Republicans will not reach over, pat his arm, and thank him for being there.
*photo thanks to ©Susan Bernstein, 2008.