*Last week President Obama released the long form of his birth certificate to the shock and surprise of many. He was curt and scolding in his public address. He cited how he remains puzzled and bemused about how the place of his birth continues to an issue.
The President decided to release the document because it was the dominate news story that overshadowed the real work of running the country and dealing with its many challenges like the budget.
Said the president about his birth certificate, “It was a distraction. We do not have time for this kind of silliness, we got better stuff to do, I’ve got better stuff to do. We got big problems to solve.”
Yet beneath his stoic, presidential exterior he held a closely guarded secret that the public and many political insiders were none the wiser of.
The President just went about his business despite the birther conspiracy theorists who still don’t believe in the authenticity of his birth certificate. He made several public appearances after he released document. He smiled, in what now seems contemptuously in hindsight, at the White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner last Saturday night. Now we know he had just signed the order for the Navy Seals to descend into Pakistan and things were about to rock and roll. Oh and by the way, he looked fantastic suited and booted in his tux as only he can. Hey, the Prez is a looker what can I say.
Indeed, he had better stuff to do and he showed us. With a firm and decisive hand, our Commander in Chief authorized an unprecedented mission to eradiate Usama bin Laden. No matter what your politics are or aren’t, his capture was a national priority that fell off the national radar during the Bush administration. But apparently it didn’t fall off President Obama’s.
The fact that there were no White House leaks about this uber top secret mission was astonishing. The successful completion of this mission could very easily be this president’s defining moment and secure his place in history beyond being the first African American President. Capturing the mastermind of the 911 massacre was right up there with canonization in the minds of the American public. Nearly 3,000 people were killed that day. Someone had to atone for the loss. It was unfinished business.
Conversely, the failure of this mission would sear his legacy as the most disappointing and disastrous presidency in recent history because a failed mission of this type could have resulted in the loss of more Americans lives and driven Usama further underground – for real and out of his million dollar compound. Surely there would have been a hue and cry for his impeachment citing his lack of judgment as a sound and competent leader. There was so much at stake on so many levels.
When we look back on the subsequent anniversaries of the May Day death of Usama, we will most surely remember a lot of things: where we were, what we were doing and what we thought when the networks interrupted our programming with the breaking news that Usama bin Laden has been found and killed.
What I will remember is how President Obama showed the nation and the world what leading while black is all about.
It’s grace under fire. The element of surprise. Resolve of action. Precision in execution. Quiescent satisfaction. It’s the antithesis of what most Americans have been taught to believe about African American men because it dehumanizes them. Those with these qualities out number those who are paraded like pariah on the evening news and internet sites. They are the faceless, unsung heroes that love God, take care of their families and care about their communities. In his poem “If,” Rudyard Kipling said:
If you can keep your head when all about you
Are losing theirs and blaming it on you;
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
But make allowance for their doubting too;
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
Or, being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or, being hated, don’t give way to hating,
And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise . . .
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,
And – which is more – you’ll be a Man my son.
Sounds like our Prez, but in his case, I’d change that last line to say: “And – which is more – you are the Man my brotha.
(Veronica Hendrix is a syndicated columnist and feature writer whose work has covered the span of the human continuum – from clinical trials of male contraceptives, to the gang violence. For comments, interviews, speaking engagements or moderator requests please send an email to [email protected].)