My Nicaraguan barber entered the United States when she was nineteen. She’s done very well. She and her husband live in a Spanish styled home in the Oakland Hills. Their children are achievers, and their grandchildren are into soccer. Without prompting from me, during my most recent haircut, she expressed her concern that Obama and his family might be harmed before he completes his term. I heard the same thing from an actor in mid Oct. We were having lunch at the Butterwood restaurant; a former speakeasy discovered during the renovation of Buffalo’s Lafayette Hotel. The hotel’s architect, Louise Bethune is the subject of my spouse, Carla Blank’s book, “Storming The Old Boy’s Citadel.” In April of 2014, he was a member of the Broadway cast that featured Denzel Washington in a revival of Lorraine Hansberry’s “A Raisin In The Sun.” He voiced the same concern. That Obama might not be protected from those who wish to assassinate him. And then on Oct. 26, 2014, I was sitting in front of a Hispanic novelist, who’d just received an American Book Award. He’s also worried about the safety of the first family.
Of course, it’s impossible to extrapolate from the views of these few, the opinions held by some of those who form the president’s supporters. However, based on some soundings I detected from some black voters on April 19th, 1998, I was the first to suggest in The Baltimore Sun that some blacks saw President Clinton as a black president.
For some, whatever policy accomplishments have been made by this president are done, with the nullification of his presidency by the
Senate’s neo-confederate caucus, and the vitriol that he has received from the media, both from the right and from the left, he will be essentially be a one term president. One morning commentator, whose ratings are in the tank, announced, hysterically, that the president has “failed, horribly,” even though the U.S. economy leaped to 3.5 percent in the third quarter, unemployment is down, the number of those without health insurance is down. The Iraqi army, which MSNBC and CNN “middle east experts” have dismissed as “cowards” is making gains against ISIS.
With the series of security lapses including a couple that crashed a white house event in 2009; the 2011 firing of shots at the Truman balcony, and an intruder who reached the first floor of the white house through the North Portico door in 2014, are the worries of the barber, actor and novelist justified? The most recent incident, which saw two secret service men crash their car into a crime scene, classified as such because a woman tossed a package onto the White House lawn and called it a bomb.
Abraham Bolden, a black secret service man, assigned to President Kennedy, and chosen by the president, said that he was accosted with racial epithets from some of the men who guarded the president. He claims that as a result of his warning of their drinking, womanizing, and their sloppy regard for the president’s safety, he was framed and sent to prison. In his book, The Echo from Dealey Plaza, he describes the scene in a car headed toward Hyannis Port. “The smell of alcohol filled the car, and it seemed to me that several of the agents were slurring their speech and showing other effects of their in-flight drinking. At least three of them were clearly in no condition to respond properly to any emergency that might develop.” Reading this, I was reminded that some of the president’s secret service were involved in drinking and prostitution scandals in 2012,2013. Bolden asserts that the president died because of the failure of the security around him, “a situation that some of us saw coming.”
Bolden quoted some secret service men, who were opposed to Kennedy’s support for Civil Rights, as saying that they would not take a bullet for the president.
One White House intruder, who was in possession of a knife, could have been stopped by the secret service men guarding the president if the dogs had been unleashed. Their explanation was that the dog might have bitten one of them. With this comment are they saying that they wouldn’t take a dog bite for the president?
Maybe this is why some of those who cheered the election of the first black president will be relieved when his term is over.
Ishmael Reed edits Konch. His new book “ The Complete Muhammad Ali” will be published in July. It’s up for pre-order at Amazon.