05/19/2008 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Vernon Jordan: Heed The Fierce Urgency Of Now

Last month, Howard Fineman wrote an article for Newsweek that spoke to Vernon Jordan's desire to be a broker on behalf of the Democratic party. According to Fineman, Vernon Jordan is lying low behind the scenes but has a desire to be a broker for peace negotiations on behalf of the Democratic party. Unfortunately, this posturing, that of lying low, as represented by Howard Fineman is inconsistent and unproductive given Mr. Jordan's status as 1) one of the most prominent African Americans in America, 2) a Washington insider, and 3) a man with roots that are deeply entrenched in the civil rights movement.

Vernon Jordan is uniquely postured to usher in an unprecedented moment in American politics and African American history, especially if he has close ties to Senator Obama as alleged by Howard Fineman. According to Fineman, "Jordan is maneuvering himself into the endgame. That could mean either telling Hillary it's time to pack it in, or persuading Obama not to tear up the party if the powers that be deny him the nomination."

Although there is no question it is time for Hillary "to pack it in," Mr. Fineman's suggestion that "the powers that be" may deny Senator Obama the nomination is most disturbing given the current state of affairs. Not only did Senator Obama win North Carolina by a landslide but he virtually tied Senator Clinton in Indiana and could be viewed as having won if you remove the vote of the Rush Limbaugh inspired Republicans who voted for Senator Clinton. Additionally, Senator Obama has an insurmountable lead in pledged delegates (168 as of May 12), and, he has now taken the lead in super delegates. Many of whom have been pledging their support to Senator Obama on a daily basis since the May 6 primaries. Some super delegates have even switched their allegiance from Senator Clinton to Senator Obama.

A suggestion that the nomination could be taken away from Senator Obama by the "powers that be" is eerily reminiscent of what we experienced in the 2000 and 2004 elections with Florida and Ohio, and, the United States Supreme Court's handing of the Office of President to George W. Bush. Democrats were virtually complacent when George W. Bush became President, despite the fact that Al Gore won the popular vote, but rest assured that will not be the case if this election is taken away from Senator Obama. Senator Obama has proven himself to be a formidable candidate. His campaign has fought hard and fair. On the other hand, the harsh tactics of Senator Clinton's campaign have gravely wounded our party and divided us along racial lines. It would not be a pretty sight at the National Democratic Convention if salt were poured into an already opened wound by taking the nomination from Senator Obama.

At this juncture, most have conceded that Senator Obama is the presumptive Democratic nominee for the Office of President. Yet there is this undertone that "something bad" may happen and that is why Senator Clinton is staying in the race. Just what that "something bad" is remains ominous and wreaks of Tony Soprano style tactics. Some say that it is a revote for Florida and Michigan, but that will be of no effect and can only serve to be a waste of money and resources that could be directed toward the general election. It is therefore time for the lady in the pants suit to concede defeat and allow the Democratic party to begin the process of healing in order to prepare to win in November. If we need a broker to make that happen, then Vernon Jordan is the man. His background, political affiliations and commanding respect in Washington make him the prime candidate for this role.

Although a prominent attorney and business executive, Vernon Jordan has a history that is deeply entrenched in the civil rights movement. He practiced law in the 1960's with a civil rights law firm. After leaving private law practice, Mr. Jordan served as the Georgia field director for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP). From the NAACP, he moved to the Southern Regional Council and then to the Voter Education Project. In 1970, Mr. Jordan became executive director of the United Negro College Fund and was president of the National Urban League from 1972 to 1981.

It is irrefutable that Vernon Jordan has a profound allegiance to his friends, Bill and Hillary Clinton. We must now ask whether he has an allegiance to his party, and more importantly, his race. Furthermore, if he and Senator Obama have a relationship, the question becomes whether there is any allegiance to Senator Obama that can, through osmosis, be connected to his allegiance to his party and his race. Although Senator Obama has sought to transcend the race issue throughout his campaign, race in this context has the same significance as gender and sexual preferences have to women and the gay community respectively.

Perhaps Mr. Jordan is reticent about taking a stand because of the assassination attempt on his life in 1981 after he publicly criticized the Ronald Reagan administration while President of the National Urban League. In 1981, Mr. Jordan stated, "I do not challenge the conservatism of this Administration. I do challenge its failure to exhibit a compassionate conservatism that adapts itself to the realities of a society ridden by class and race distinction." Shortly thereafter, there was an attempt on his life and he resigned his office as President of the National Urban League. Consequently, Vernon Jordan may not be prepared to carry the burden Martin Luther King, Jr., Malcolm X and Christ faced head on. However, Jesus said greater love has no one than to lay down one's life for his friends. Although that may be an extreme perspective, it is also true that a real friend will tell another friend when he or she, or in this instance both, are wrong. Hopefully, Vernon Jordan will not risk his life to take this stance against his friends, the Clintons.

According to Senator Obama supporter Phillip Gaskin, "Obama is about to be released into the world so to speak. But there remains a nagging issue - Hillary Clinton. Wouldn't it be remarkable if a black man came to the aid of another for the good of our country and the Democratic party - and that black man was Vernon Jordan? He could easily step in, convince the Clintons to exit graciously and release Obama into history. . ."