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There are many reasons for anyone of conscience not to serve in the administration of our hate-mongering, habanero-hue-having president-elect.

He is a racist. He is a sexist. He is a xenophobe.

Likewise, there are plenty of reasons for a black man in particular not to want to serve in the administration of such a character.

His comments about the Central Park Five then and now; his history with housing discriminationhis very long history of making racist comments, particularly those that are anti-black; his efforts to publicly undermine the nation’s first black president by questioning his citizenship; his describing black neighborhoods and black life in America in the spirit of Mister telling Celie that she was po’, black and ugly.

Yet, for all the ample amount of evidence readily available, Robert Johnson cited a reason rooted not in principle but in loss of power.

Speaking with CNBC this week, the BET founder revealed that he had met with President-elect Donald Trump earlier this month and was offered a Cabinet position. “It was an easy discussion because I wasn’t coming there on a job interview,” Johnson explained. “He hinted at something I could be interested in, and I quickly shut that down. It was a Cabinet position.”

What prompted such a quick dip? According to Johnson, he can’t work for the government “because to me, as an entrepreneur, trying to work in a government structure where you got to go through 15 different layers of decision-making to get what you want done doesn’t fit my mold.”

So this Negro’s only real gripe with serving in the Trump administration is that he wouldn’t be able to have as much say as he’s accustomed to. Not to mention, he wouldn’t be able to make the kind of money he’s used to earning.

This line of thinking is more verbal manure than most decent people can take—except, Johnson decided to take things one step further by arguing that Minute Maid Mao was not racist.

“To me, I never thought Donald Trump, and I still don’t believe it today, was a racist. I don’t believe that he’s anti-African American,” Johnson argued. “For too long, the African-American community has been ignored by the Republicans because they thought we were always locked with the Democrats.”

To Johnson, one plus one equals a 12-pack of Sunkist, each one topped with a weird-looking wig. There’s willful ignorance and then there’s Bob Johnson on national television to claim that a man proven guilty of housing discrimination and with a lengthy track record of saying incredibly racist things for decades is not racist. The man can trot out that cliché about the Grand Old Party needing to engage more with “the blacks,” as his tangerine demagogue of a work buddy likes to call us, but the reality remains that Republicans consistently engage with us: It’s called voter suppression.

Johnson went on with his brown bag full of lies, saying that Trump is neither Democrat nor Republican. “Certainly not an establishment Republican [and] he’s not a Democrat; he was open,” Johnson said. “And he’s a business guy. And business guys tend to look at where’s the opportunity for a benefit.”

Minute Maid Mao may lack political ideology, but there is a constant that has lingered throughout his personal life, his business practices and his political ascension: bigotry.

What a pathetic sight to see: a black man saying the sole reason he won’t serve under an administration swimming in white supremacy with a minority friend here and there serving as water boy is that he doesn’t want to deal with a high chain of command. Not only that, but to go out of his way to lie about exactly what kind of man our president-elect is.

If there’s one thing to remind ourselves in the coming months and years ahead, it is that black people must know who is for us and who is not. Being black alone does not mean you are for us. Johnson is proof of that.

Read the rest at The Root.

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It’s often difficult to resist the urge to let my eyes roll to the back of my head at peak Janet Jackson speed upon hearing the declaration that X issue is a distraction from Y, the bigger, more important matter at hand. Yes, in media, superficial stories can often be assigned more attention than their more substantive counterparts, but that sentiment is based on the unfortunate assumption that the brain cannot process multiple things at once. In the same way that many of us can walk and chew someone out at the same time, we are just as capable of juggling the ongoing horror show starring our president-elect.

When Donald Trump garnered media coverage over tweets aimed at the casts of Hamilton and Saturday Night Live last weekend, it was disappointing to see some smugly dismiss those antics as spectacle unworthy of concern. Although Trump has been known to court attention from the very New York tabloids he’s often battled with, certain truths remain: The man is thin skinned. The man is vengeful. The man has an issue with anyone he feels has wronged him—especially when done publicly.

Trump has long conflated any form of criticism or protest with persecution. There will be no pivot. There will be no miraculous arrival of maturation. It’s best to pay attention to what this could mean in the future.

Sure, Steve Bannon, a racist with a penchant for propaganda peddling, may enjoy Trump’s temper tantrums because they do steal focus from his more nefarious dealings, but that doesn’t make them any less noteworthy. Trump is an orgy of problems, and we ought to pay attention to every single one.

In this case, Trump’s pattern with criticism is overbearing in its clarity, and with the power of the presidency, soon there may be hell to pay for those who dare speak ill of him. While the casts of Hamilton or Saturday Night Live will be free from his reach, other artists may not be so lucky. Now more than ever, I worry about artists in public spaces who will be punished for displeasing President Trump.

Republicans have a long-standing history of attacking the rights of artists. In the 1980s, Ronald Reagan immediately attempted to defund the National Endowment for the Arts. In response to the substantial proposed cuts in arts and humanities, Rep. Frederick W. Richmond, the Democratic chair of the Congressional Arts Caucus, told the New York Times, “Arts are crucial to the well-being of America.”

Reagan was not completely successful in those efforts, but the agency spent much of the decade battling members of the religious right, like Pat Robertson and Pat Buchanan, along with legislative bigots like Jesse Helms.

In 1994 Newt Gingrich took on the NEA, branding the independent federal agency “wasteful” and “elitist.” During this same period, then-New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani used the Brooklyn Museum of Arts to wage a battle over public funding of the arts.

Just this year, select Georgia lawmakers took on the national exhibition “Art AIDS America” once it reached Kennesaw State University. I covered that exhibition for the Village Voice, and part of the exhibition spoke to the failure of the Reagan administration to handle the AIDS crisis, and the work of conservatives to silence awareness of it. They were bullied out of museums and barraged with threats of retribution. In response to such a hostile climate created by bullies with power, many artists had to covertly use their art to chronicle how their friends and, in many cases, themselves were dealing with the disease. Their art lent voice to those who did not garner enough attention from mainstream media.


Read the rest at The Root.

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It appears that in the aftermath of a monumental but nonetheless failed presidential campaign, Bernie Sanders remains most comfortable in the spot that made him a loser: trying to separate class and race.

Sanders has never been wrong about the damaging roles establishment politics and economics play in the lives of millions of Americans. Even so, he’s long struggled with acknowledging that focusing on class alone won’t make this country better for many who are struggling. That the revolution cannot be colorblind if it were to truly make this country better for all of the disenfranchised.

At a speech in Boston on Sunday, the Vermont senator advocated “go[ing] beyond identity politics,” declaring, “The working class of this country is being decimated — that’s why Donald Trump won. And what we need now are candidates who stand with those working people, who understand that real median family income has gone down.”

Yes, it has. But Sanders, like the others parading this pedestrian punditry in the aftermath of the news that most white people voted for Donald Trump, is missing the point while continuing to promote the very ideas that sunk him during the primary. He lost many potential voters of color because we know color-blind economic policies alone will not change certain realities of racism in America. They might “make America great again”, but only for people who have always had it pretty good.

In October, when asked in a New Republic profile how uncomfortable he appeared talking about race, he answered, “OK, see, this is an issue I’m not really – what I don’t want to do is get into me.” When told that it wasn’t about him per se, Sanders said, “It’s a complicated answer. It’s a good question, but I prefer not to get into it right now.”

Though Sanders did make some efforts toward minority outreach eventually, it was too late and not good enough. After all this time, that reality has still failed to reach him.

In his Boston speech, he demonstrated this blind spot yet again, when a woman in the audience asked asked Sanders how she could become the second-ever Latina senator.

“It is not good enough for somebody to say, ‘I’m a woman, vote for me,’” Sanders explained. “No, that’s not good enough. What we need is a woman who has the guts to stand up to Wall Street, to the insurance companies, to the drug companies, to the fossil fuel industry. In other words, one of the struggles that you’re going to be seeing in the Democratic Party is whether we go beyond identity politics.”

Why should we pretend “identity politics” hasn’t always been America’s way – that discounting them invalidates the lived experience of the very people that opted against sending him to the general election?

When Bernie Sanders talks about the Democratic party’s failure to reach working-class white voters, he manages to somehow forget he lost to a woman who bested him partly because she spoke of the need of criminal justice reform and the overall role racism plays in America before he did.

Nonetheless, Hillary Clinton went on to lose to a demagogue who promised to restore the nation to an image that excluded Americans like me and like the woman who dreams of becoming a US senator.

Read the rest at The Guardian.

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14956524_10157728692705483_4402167199728957618_nIn a concession speech that was exceptionally gracious, given the behavior of her political opponent throughout this abysmal and subsequently catastrophic election season, Hillary Clinton declared, “Donald Trump is going to be our president. We owe him an open mind and the chance to lead.”

Clinton is a consummate professional, and though she deserved a far better end to her 40-years of public service than to lose her lifelong dream to an unqualified buffoon who went into politics as a newfound hobby, it makes sense for her to make such a statement. However, for the rest of us who are not politicians and did not campaign against Trump for the presidency, we don’t need to express such sentiments. We do not owe an audacious bigot anything.

Yet the sentiment that Trump deserves a chance has since been echoed by New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. In his column, Kristof asserts: “Yet, like it or not, we Americans have a new president-elect, and it’s time to buck up. I’ve seen past elections that were regarded as the end of the world—including, in many Democratic circles, the Reagan triumph of 1980—and the republic survived. This time as well, our institutions are stronger than any one man.”

America came to be at the expense of its original inhabitants and was subsequently built on the backs of African slaves. This country’s inception was rooted in thievery and bolstered by racism, so the notion that the republic will survive the election of a demagogue is a moot point. Of course America will survive in the wake of a win for bigotry; bigotry is what birthed and has long nurtured her.

As for Reagan, for all the damage he did during his time as president, black people suffered the most. And black people knew what was to come with him before he took office. The same can be said of Donald J. Trump, the man who described Mexicans as rapists, proposed bans on Muslims for no other reason than that their religion gives him the heebie-jeebies, and has already threatened to curtail the reproductive rights of women and punish those who dare break his command of their bodies—plus who has a long-standing history of treating black people terribly. We know what is to come.

Still, Kristof writes: “It was disgraceful that many Republicans eight years ago tried to make President Obama fail. That’s not the path to emulate. Today, having lost, we owe it to our nation to grit our teeth and give President-elect Trump a chance.”

Au contraire, white man. My black ass doesn’t owe Trump a damn thing. The same goes for anyone else in this country who is not white, straight and male—or, you know, a white woman who supported Trump and cares far more about preserving the privileges of being white than about any of her autonomy being stripped because of gender. Like many pundits who have been wrong this entire time, Kristof cites Trump’s lack of knowledge and experience as reasons to question the sincerity and likelihood of his building that wall he speaks of, bringing law and order to the nation (its blacks), and fulfilling other campaign promises that pleasured white nationalists in their most private places.

Trump has no ideology, but he campaigned on bigotry and has a strong record on it. Trump also has the support of Republicans in Congress, who are very much aware that their newfound control of every branch of government has a lot to do with his success. Paul Ryan has already confirmed that. They owe Trump, and he knows it.

Whoever is willing to take the risk that Trump will fail to deliver on his promises is someone who can afford to take that risk and give him the benefit of the doubt. For the rest of us, all we see is prejudice being handed power with a strong mandate.

And in unsurprising fashion, Kristoff goes on to let out this naivete molded and shaped by an inexpert understanding of racism: “Democrats are too quick to caricature Trump supporters as deplorables. Sure, some are racists or misogynists, but many are good people who had voted for Obama in the past. My rural hometown, Yamhill, Ore., is pro-Trump, and I can tell you: The voters there are not all bigoted monsters, but well-meaning people upended by economic changes such as the disappearance of good manufacturing jobs.”

That’s a charming bedtime story, but the reality is, to vote for Barack Obama does not mean you cannot be racist. Racists have lain down with those they hate, and the second they pull their pants up, they’re right back to putting those they view as less than back in their place. A vote is nothing.

If you voted for a racist candidate, you are either an unabashed racist or you are complicit in racism. The latter makes you racist—just at a different level.

Read the rest at The Root.

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If there’s one American pastime I can always count on, it is white people blaming Black people for problems not of our creation.

As we now reach the conclusion of what has been an equal parts absurd and abysmal election season, a familiar political question about the impact of the Black vote has been trotted out. Last week, New York Magazine ran a piece entitled “Will minority voters fear a Trump administration enough to turn out in large numbers to help stop it from happening?” In it, writer Ed Kilgore notes, “As we approach Election Day and what could be a close presidential contest, however, it matters a great deal whether minority voters fear a Trump administration enough to turn out in large numbers to help stop it from happening.”

Kilgore then cites a recent article from The Cook Political Report that claims Black voter turnout is down compared to 2012. Kilgore uses to make the following argument: “The Clinton campaign might want to get the word out aggressively over the next week that the barbarian is at the gates, and Black voters who want to protect Barack Obama’s legacy and their own aspirations might want to take the time to vote.”

Two sentences and yet so many problems in each statement. To be fair to Kilgore, he hasn’t been the only one employing this narrative about the Black vote. The problem, though, is that with respect to Black voter turnout, context is key and many are failing to serve a health enough portion of it needed to present the stories centered on the Black vote in 2016 adequately.

While there were initial reports about Black voter turnout being lower in states like North Carolina, Ohio, and Florida, newer figures are pouring in and challenging that. Yet, even in the case of a state like North Carolina, if one is to dissect lower voter turnout among Blacks, it has to be made clear that such results are by GOP design. North Carolina Republicans are actively boasting about making it harder for Black people to participate in early voting (or voting period).

The Republican Party is playing directly from the playbook of Jim Crow to help elect Real Estate Hitler to the presidency. So, as ridiculous as it is to expect Black people to vote with the same fervency as they did for the first Black presidential nominee and first Black president, at the very least, more ought to make a real effort to highlight that the Black vote has historically been under attack and recent years are its latest incarnation.

There have been far more efforts by many in media to try and humanize Donald Trump supporters than there has been wide focus on a political party trying to strip Black people of our basic rights as citizens. As for those Trump supporters helping them reach this feat, if it proves to be that there are more of them than there are Hillary supporters, don’t look in the direction of Black folks when it’s time to dole out blame.

If a racist, sexist, xenophobic presidential candidate unqualified for the job of commander-in-chief manages to become that in a democratic election, the blame of that should not fall on the backs of minorities but the white majority.

Read the rest at Essence.

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Donna Brazile responded to headlines regarding her resignation from CNN—in light of leaked emails showing her providing the Clinton campaign with debate questions—in familiar, black auntie fashion.

Brazile quoted Michelle Obama’s “When they go low, we go high.” She invoked Dr. Martin Luther King. She thanked people for their prayers, in some instances, in a sweet, cutesy way tied to Halloween. And when responding to others who’d heard about her leaving the cable news network, she tweeted lyrics from “Ain’t Gonna Let Nobody Turn Me Around.” Brazile also got back to the business of criticizing GOP presidential nominee Donald Trump and pushing for Democrats to vote.

Donna Brazile, more or less, behaved like the political equivalent of the words to Mary J. Blige’s single “Just Fine.”

However, as much as I have enjoyed Brazile on television—she doesn’t give way to CNN’s format of verbal pro-wrestling and is extremely Louisianan on all fronts—when it comes to what sparked her resignation, it’s not fine-fine-fine-fine-fine-fine (whew).

No, it’s not OK for a hostile foreign government to interfere in our elections, but that doesn’t excuse what’s been found out through hacked emails. On the day before a CNN-sponsored Democratic primary debate set in Flint, Mich., in March, Brazile reportedly wrote an email with the following subject line: “One of the questions directed to HRC tomorrow is from a woman with a rash.”

“Her family has lead poison and she will ask what, if anything, will Hillary do as president to help the ppl of Flint,” Brazile wrote to John Podesta, the Clinton campaign chairman, and Jennifer Palmieri, Clinton’s communications director.

Clinton was indeed asked about this, only the answer wasn’t exactly satisfactory. “I hated Hillary Clinton’s answer,” Lee-Anne Walters told the Huffington Post the day after the debate. “It actually made me vomit in my mouth.”

Nonetheless, to quote Real Housewives of New York star Luann de Lesseps, this was a very “uncool” thing to do, Ms. Brazile.

That said, if you were scheduled to debate in Flint, Mich., and didn’t anticipate being asked about the poisoned water, you likely can’t put on a pair of pants without supervision.

Moreover, much of the leaked emails have exposed nothing but much of what we already knew about how political parties work—notably that when a longtime Democrat like Clinton goes up against a nouveau Democrat in Bernie Sanders, party operatives side for what they know. Also toss in the tidbit that if you happened to watch any of the debates, Clinton didn’t exactly need much help debating Sanders and his penchant for just regurgitating the word “revolution” whenever called to expound on his policy proposals.

But OK, OK: Bad Donna. Bad, bad, Donna. She was wrong. She shouldn’t have done that. It was a silly, bad move. I still want to try her gumbo, but for shame.

Now that she’s gone, though, it’s still pretty grating to watch CNN play pious card on this matter.

In a statement, Lauren Pratapas, a CNN spokesperson, said, “We are completely uncomfortable with what we have learned about her interactions with the Clinton campaign while she was a CNN contributor.”

Yet, they’re comfortable with Corey Lewandowski despite Federal Election Commission filings showing that Lewandowski is being paid by the Trump campaign for “strategy consulting.” This is in addition to his cushy CNN contract as a political commentator. Speaking of that commentary, Trump requires everyone who works for his campaign to sign “non-disparagement” agreements. As Nancy LeTourneau notes in Washington Monthly, “Lewandowski is probably legally bound to avoid any criticism of his former boss. CNN is basically granting a microphone to the Trump campaign in the guise of political commentary.”

Read the rest at The Root.

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Michelle Obama is as likely to run for office as Lil’ Kim is to present a lifetime achievement award to Nicki Minaj with a speech penned by Foxy Brown.

Or, as Obama’s former communications director, Kristina Schake, once explained to Politico in 2014, “She is as likely to put her name in contention to be the next pope as she is to run for political office.” President Obama echoed a similar sentiment recently in an interview on Sway in the Morning.

Despite the First Lady’s own long history of dismissing the idea of entering politics as a candidate, questions as to whether or not she should and what sort of reactions she could expect have followed her for years now.

It’s easy to peg why the speculation has never wavered: people know a natural when they see her.

FBI Director James Comey’s poor letter writing skills may have distracted many from the sight of our current First Lady supporting a former First Lady’s historic presidential bid last week, but white noise does not drown out another instance of Michelle Obama proving herself to be a gifted speaker and campaigner.

Beyond her eloquently expressed disdain of Trump, Obama has been effective in stressing the severity of voting to Black people without the sort of condescension we tend to hear from her husband. Whereas President Obama speaks of this caricature known as “Cousin Pookie,” the “lazy” person sitting on his couch who “hasn’t voted in the last five elections,” she speaks more empathetically. Some may not agree with her positioning, but it’s hard to argue that she is not at least more thoughtful and considerate in her explanation.

On why Michelle Obama has been so effective, political scientist William A. Galston, a former aide to President Bill Clinton and senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, told The Washington Post, “She has a kind of informality that comes off as very natural, and in a generation that is searching for authenticity and connection, I think that helps.”

There are obvious other factors behind Michelle Obama’s popularity – most of them rooted in her not doing much in the way of policymaking. Even when it came to the issue of tackling childhood obesity, Obama was attacked by the likes of Sarah Palin. Others, including Governor Chris Christie, Fox News host and Trump University varsity cheerleader, Sean Hannity, and other wastes of time have harshly criticized her through the years.

If Michelle Obama opted to entertain a political career on her own, our current political climate suggests that the attacks on her would be as vicious as those on her husband. Actually, maybe even worse. See: Hillary Clinton’s life. That said, with her skill set, name recognition, and eager support from her party, she would be a formidable candidate. She could easily win a Senate seat. She could very well go on to become our first Black female president.

I imagine she’d rather go live in private, and have the likes of me go back to minding my business.

It’s understandable why Obama will never run for office, though it does highlight an ongoing dilemma. The Democratic Party, whose survival relies so heavily on the support of Black women, doesn’t have enough Black women on the national scene or elected office in general. There has been some progression in terms of visibility at this year’s Democratic National Convention and the likelihood of Kamala Harris quietly making history next week for being elected California’s first Black and South Asian female senator.

Read the rest at Essence.

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When Michelle Obama said, “When they go low, we go high,” she offered a succinct and strong defense of dignity. The idea is that simply because someone else—in this case, Donald Trump—resorts to a certain level of campaigning that many find debasing doesn’t mean everyone else should join him in the mud pool. It’s a moral lesson easy to decipher, but like any exemplum offered, there are levels to the s–t.

Not to mention, there is a difference between flying above another’s lows and overextending one’s self, e.g., willing to lend charity or forgiveness to those who mean you harm. Recently, there have been two separate instances of the latter. Sure, each is an example of good intent, but that doesn’t blind some of us from the reality that their willingness to go above and beyond is directly tied to the fact that they haven’t been attacked as much as others have been.

 In the essay “I’m a Democrat. Here’s Why I Helped Raise Money for North Carolina Republicans,” David Weinberger details why he decided to donate to the North Carolina GOP after one of its offices was firebombed by unknown arsonists. Weinberger did not launch the GoFundMe account created for it, but he did stress, “This crowdfunding effort was an opportunity for many of us to state in public, with some of our hard-earned money, that democracy trumps threats, intimidation and violence.”

Weinberger went on to add, “The North Carolina GOP’s need was a chance to remember the norms democracy needs to survive: decency, respect, empathy and a sense of commonality.”

Hillary Clinton caught a lot of flak for referring to Republicans as her “enemies” in a Democratic presidential primary debate, but she had every right to use that descriptor. Republicans have been horrible to her for decades, and there are already signs they plan to continue that upon her being elected president. If they’ve been that brutal to a white, wealthy woman of power, imagine how they’ve treated the rest of us.

Weinberger is distraught about the violent act committed against the Republican headquarters in Orange County, N.C., though he and others gloss over the reality that for many North Carolinians, Republicans have long committed heinous acts against them. This would include North Carolina Republicans attacking the voter rights of black people, helping to assist in the resegregation of schools, and infringing upon the rights of trans men and women in the state.

It’s not the lighting of a literal blaze, but if you are nonwhite and LGBTQ, it is fire and brimstone upon you all the same. And considering that this is the party working to elect Donald J. Trump—a racist, sexist, xenophobic vile waste of humanity, as president—they are not at all concerned about embodying the tenets of decency, respect, empathy and a sense of commonality. A donation won’t change that. Besides, they’ve already got insurance.

Their donations are about nothing more than giving the immoral money that they do not deserve. Maybe these donors felt good about themselves, but they were not doing anything but feeding their own flawed ideas of morality. If they really cared about goodwill, we would have heard from them sooner about the evils of that party in that state long ago.

Some people simply don’t deserve acts of kindness. The same goes for forgiveness. On Twitter, I stumbled across a ridiculous meme depicting the rainbow flag, a symbol for the LGBTQ community, hugging a figure with Confederacy imagery. The meme was apparently inspired by a bumper sticker of a Confederate flag kicking the ass of the big gay flag.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Last weekend, at the Tidal X 1015 concert in Brooklyn, N.Y., Nicki Minaj delivered a pointed critique that echoed a sentiment that quite a few share about Melania Trump. After reciting lyrics from “Win Again,” she said: “It’s O motherf–king K, ’cause Barack needed a Michelle, bitch, and Bill needed a motherf–king Hillary, bitch; you better pray to God you don’t get stuck with a motherf–king Melania. You n–gas want brainless bitches to stroke your motherf–king ego.”

When a fan on Twitter claimed that she “dragged” Melania Trump, Minaj wrote in response, “Wasn’t ‘dragging.’ She seems nice. But a smart man knows he needs a certain ‘kind’ of woman when running for President/attempting greatness.”

Donald Trump is not a smart man. Shrewd as he may be, this presidential campaign has best highlighted Trump as an egotistical blowhard who whores for attention. So even if Melania had objections to Donald’s run, he doesn’t strike me as the type to be told what he can and cannot do. Ask any of his former campaign managers. Ask his current campaign manager.

There’s also the long-standing suspicion that Donald Trump didn’t expect to get this far with his presidential bid. Stephanie Cegielski, the former communications director of the Make America Great Again super PAC, wrote in, “Trump never intended to be the candidate. But his pride is too out of control to stop him now.”

Donald Trump, presidential candidate, has long come across as a stunt that went too far. And when it comes to Melania, it seems as if she signed up to be a rich man’s wife, and if there were any grand entrance into public life for her, the entree point would have been a spot on The Real Housewives of New York City, not the pursuit of life as the Republican Jackie Kennedy. After all, she already had a QVC line going for her.

I don’t think she signed up for all this attention—notably being exploited by way of the New York Post’s publication of nude pictures that she had taken decades ago.

Still, to some extent, Melania has shown up—only the end result has been her humiliation. Look no further than her disastrous speech at the Republican National Convention, in which her speechwriter lifted heavily from remarks made by first lady Michelle Obama years prior. More recently, she re-emerged to talk to the press, but only to try and defuse accusations that her husband had sexually assaulted more than 10 women.

Their politics aside, there is a parallel between what Melania Trump just did for her husband and the fact that Hillary Clinton did the same thing for her husband, Bill Clinton. That said, Melania did manage to offer her own digs at her husband, quipping to CNN’s Anderson Cooper: “Sometimes I say I have two boys at home. I have my young son and I have my husband.”

As for Michelle Obama, she, too, has recently offered a critique about political spouses that one might easily assume applies to Melania Trump. When late-night host Stephen Colbert asked if she had any sympathy for political spouses, she answered: “Because if—you know, you have to be, you know, in it. If you’re in it, and if you don’t agree, you should have agreed before they ran. Bottom line is, if you didn’t agree with what Barack was saying, I would not support his run. So I stand there proudly, and I hope they are, too, standing with their spouses proudly. So no, no sympathy.”

Well, Donald Trump’s daughter Ivanka Trump has largely served in the role some might have expected Melania Trump to fill. Earlier this year, Melania told GQ: “I chose not to go into politics and policy. Those policies are my husband’s job.”

As far as whether or not she has her own political opinions, she stressed that she did, only, “Nobody knows and nobody will ever know. Because that’s between me and my husband.”

It’s hard to feel sorry for anyone with as much wealth and access as Melania Trump enjoys, but as far as being a political spouse goes, she’s dealt with Donald Trump’s presidential run better than many might give her credit for. She’s been placed in a tough position—although, despite my own feelings about her husband and what he represents, I question whether she, as a political spouse, is functioning all that differently from how others function, particularly when met with scandal.

Read the rest at The Root.

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Last night, Donald Trump managed to behave himself by the very low standard we’ve collectively set for him for almost the first half hour of the final debate. Was he as good as some in the punditocracy suggested?

Is he ever?

No, no, no, no. To put things in perspective, think of the dog you trained to defecate on newspaper versus your freshly shined wooden floors who finally follows directions. That’s Trump for that period of time.

When the subject of the Supreme Court came up, Trump seemed more upset that Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg had bad things to say about him than anything else. Trump did speak passionately about abortion from his suddenly pro-life stance.

He was far too gory, hyperbolic, and not truthful about the number of late-term abortions actually performed, but he managed to form complete sentences that didn’t include insults. I imagine he lifted these lines from Mike Pence. His lies aside, it was about time we had discussions about reproductive rights in the presidential debates – you know, when it was Hillary Clinton’s turn to speak.

Per usual, Trump was vigilant in his objections to NAFTA. If there is one constant about these debates, it’s Clinton’s reluctance to directly address legitimate complaints about the trade deal her husband signed in the 1990s. If Trump were a more disciplined debater, he would have stuck to creating moments like these as opposed to…everything else. Say, referring to undocumented immigrants as “bad hombres” and revealing that he doesn’t get the Second Amendment.

But super first half hour for Trump, y’all.

For much of the debate, Clinton and her expansive book of receipts highlighted what an uninformed fool she’s running against. Trump more or less went “nu uh!” at every claim Clinton made, only to have her follow it up with a direct quote.

As the debate went on, Trump knocked the voice of campaign manager Kellyanne Conway out of his head and returned to the sniffling, face crunching, rude somebody we’ve known him to be.

And it bears repeating: Trump knows nothing.

Trump spoke in incoherent circles about Syria. Trump couldn’t just flat-out say his “MCE” Vladimir Putin is not the most amazing person and that the U.S. Intelligence community is correct about Russians hacking email accounts of American institutions and citizens to meddle in our election. Trump also did little in the way of detailing his economic policy or any policy outside of building a big wall.

Instead, Trump continued to deal in generalities and gibberish before moving on to flat-out conspiracies. Say, when he accused the Clinton campaign of coordinating with the media to compel nine women to accuse him of sexual assault. This man thinks like an alternate on Scooby Doo’s Mystery Machine.

What will stick out most about this final debate is Trump being asked if he will accept the results of the election and answering, “I’ll keep you in suspense.” This man acts like he’s up against Kenya Moore at a Real Housewives reunion, doing what it takes to secure a peach for the next season. Meanwhile, it’s interesting now we can talk about rigged elections – which is not a thing in America – yet forgo having the candidate address voter disenfranchisement efforts actually happening across the country.

Read the rest at Essence.

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