Monday, August 31, 2009

A Torturous Cheney Sunday II: the "Great White Hope?"

I am surprised that it took this long for someone to invoke the century old call for a "great white hope" to defeat Barack Obama. The subject of my master's thesis has been all over the news of late, because it was Jack Johnson's ascension to the heavyweight boxing championship in 1908 that touched off this original call for a redemption of the strength of the white race.

Of course Congresswoman Jenkins claimed not to be aware of the racial implications of the phrase, but as this article shows, Jenkins joined in a resolution (which passed both houses of Congress) for Obama to posthumously pardon Jack Johnson for his conviction for "violating" the 1910 Mann Act.

I decided to go back to some of my books and papers and refresh my memory about Jack Johnson and the calls for a "great white hope." I was reminded that the novelist Jack London was one of the earliest to call for someone to redeem the white race from the spectre of Johnson. As I was looking through Thomas R. Hietala's book, The Fight of the Century: Jack Johnson, Joe Louis and the Struggle for Racial Equality, I found a couple of interesting quotations from London, who was reporting on the July 4, 1910 fight between Jack Johnson and Jim Jeffries. London, in observing Johnson, noted that he "is not capable of seriously adjusting his actions to remote ends." (Hietala, 35). Yet in observing Jeffries, London noted that "this fight does not mean to Johnson what it does to Jeff." (Hietala, 36)

When I read those lines, I thought immediately of the Dick Cheney interview with Chris Wallace on Fox News Sunday. Though the racial context is not there, the sentiment that "this fight [against terrorism] does not mean to [Obama] what it does to [Cheney]" is. Cheney, according to the Fox News Sunday transcript of his interview with Chris Wallace, stated plainly that the Justice Department's investigation is "...clearly a political move," and that "there's no other rationale for why their doing this." When Wallace asked if Cheney thought that some of the actions of the interrogators was wrong, Cheney reiterated that their actions saved American lives. Cheney also added, later in the interview, that he thought that Democrats were weak on national security. And when asked about his thoughts on Obama, Cheney had this to say: "Well, I was not a fan of his when he got elected....I have serious doubts about his policies, serious doubts especially about the extent to which he understands and is prepared to do what needs to be done to defend the nation."

Sounds a bit like this fight doesn't mean the same to Obama as it does to Cheney, right?According to Cheney, Obama isn't prepared, or doesn't quite understand the gravity of these issues. Jack London already mapped out a rationale for Cheney there.

Finally, I was taken aback when I saw this headline on the opinion page of the Wall Street Journal's website: "Cheney for President." James Taranto follows Cheney's line of thought, and ponders if the moves of the Bush administration kept the country safe, then perhaps it's possible that the Obama administration is endangering us.

So maybe Congresswoman Jenkins has been given her answer to the question of who that "great white hope" to take on Obama may be: Dick Cheney. Though I am not sure that he is as good a bet as Taranto seems to suggest. Cheney, like so many of Jack Johnson's "great white hopes," has some real weak spots that could be exploited to Obama's advantage, especially as Cheney tries to land some serious, though misguided blows on Obama about national security.

Perhaps Obama really is like Jack Johnson, who was one of the best defensive fighters in the history of boxing, and is simply looking for those weak spots and will strike his blows when the time is right. I hope that the Justice Department's investigation will provide the necessary ammunition.


Tom Degan's Daily Rant said...

It sure is fun watching poor old Dick Cheney stumbling all over the right wing airwaves, desperately trying to poison the jury pool and dodge a VERY long stretch in a federal prison. I only saw clips of his "interview" with Chris Wallace on FOX Noise on Sunday. Someone described it as a starry-eyed teenage girl interviewing one of the Jonas brothers.

It sure is funny observing the meltdown of Dick and Liz (Cheney - not Burton and Taylor). The trillion dollar hammer is about to hit the fan. They're like cornered rats. Oh, man! I'm lovin' this!

Don't take your eye off the Cheneys. For your best entertainment bargain, these two are the show that should not be missed. We're talking essential viewing here!

Tom Degan, Goshen, NY

Scott said...

"A senior Justice Department official said that Holder envisioned an inquiry that would be narrow in scope, focusing on 'whether people went beyond the techniques that were authorized' in Bush administration memos that liberally interpreted anti-torture laws."


Ok, I want to make a career of robbing banks, and I go to my lawyer and tell him I want him to tell me under what conditions I may legally rob banks.

My lawyer, Mr. Yoo, writes me some memos telling me that is ok to rob banks but only if I rob them between the hours of 2 to 4pm, and never on Tuesdays. And that I can't kill the guards, only wound them. And that I can't take more than $82,335 per robbery. Mr. Yoo tells me if I follow these "guidelines" then bank robbery is legal.

Can I assume that Mr. Holder would only prosecute me if I, "went beyond the authorized techniques" my lawyer gave me and, say, robbed a bank on Tuesday?

Would all my other bank robberies could be excused by saying, "My lawyer said it was ok." ?

Not good enough. Too little, too late.

hscfree said...

@Tom: Thanks for popping over. The Cheney Road Show is as entertaining as it is sad. The fact of the matter is that there are those in the world who will believe every single word that the Cheneys utter. Orwellian is no longer sufficient as a term when it comes to the Cheneys.

@Scott: That is a great analogy you've put together. As I mentioned in my previous post on Cheney, if the parties were reversed, and the GOP had come in after the Dems having done what we experienced over the last seven years, we would have a three ring circus of investigations, calls about following the rule of law, calls for prosecutions, and various and sundry things that would enter in to the minds of the DC GOP.

The sense that the Obama Justice Department is sloping toward an investigation is pitiful to watch. One gets the sense that folks over there are praying that nothing substantive is found. Perhaps there are enough of Monica Goodlings minions in place to thwart any meaningful investigation.

Anonymous said...

It's time we open all of Cheney's sealed documents and see what he was really doing behind the curtain.

Does anyone else wonder why the then VP was creating a classification which only applied to HIS papers, and that they should remain sealed for decades?

"Abuse of power" has a new poster child, and his name is Dick.

I'm just sayin'...

Anonymous said...

What does race have to do with this?