The following piece was produced by the Huffington Post's OffTheBus project.
What would the Brotherhood of Sleeping Car Porters think? Huey Newton and other Black Panthers, living and dead? Eugene Debs and the ghosts of American Socialists? Comrades-in-arms against the Vietnam War? These folk are Ron V. Dellums's personal history, and indeed what would they think of their man Dellums, now mayor of Oakland, endorsing a rich white candidate who voted for war over a community-organizing African-American who did not?
The very day that the Barack Obama Campaign field office for northern California opened in Oakland, Mayor Ron Dellums must already have decided not to support his fellow African-American. Although Dellums had spoken at Obama's St. Patrick's Day rally in Oakland, although Dellums had been absent from Hillary Clinton's Oakland rally, the same Sunday afternoon as the Obama Opening--the Oakland mayor's absence conspicuous by the presence of San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom--the word on the street was that Dellums still hadn't committed to either Obama or Clinton. The next day, however, Dellums appeared with Clinton at Oakland's Laney College and endorsed her. Clearly, he had waited a day because it would have looked bad to cozy up to Clinton at the same moment Obama was making the spunky move to quarter in downtown Oakland rather than San Francisco. It would've looked bad for one African-American to cut another African-American making his move. It would've looked like betrayal.
What did Dellums get for his mess of potage? First of all, the aging lion has been given the Clinton Campaign's Urban Policy Committee--translation--more federal tax dollars for Oakland should Clinton take the White House. Specifically, Clinton pledged to Dellums that she would expand mentoring and internship programs, programs that reintegrate convicts into society and alternative energy jobs programs. That's a lot of programs--does that mean a lot of earmarks? And in the language of the day, all programs will be "public-private partnerships," of course. More importantly for Dellums, whose popularity as Oakland's mayor has been declining, is the opportunity to burnish his waning political career by hitching it to a rising star. Dellums has been tarnished since his longtime support of Oakland's Black Muslim Bakery, run by a group of criminals who have terrorized the bakery's neighborhood for years, came to light in August when Oakland Post editor Chauncey Bailey was murdered, presumably as a result of his nosing around the organization.
Maybe Dellums isn't an Obama kind of man, anyway. Certainly, Dellums's ten years of lobbying, after leaving Congress, on behalf of Rolls Royce, Bristol-Myers Squibb, and Aristide of Haiti, among others, wouldn't make him a good fit for the anti-lobbyist Obama Campaign. But it remains to be seen if the Obama grassroots folk will have enough time and manpower to explain all this to Oakland's voters.
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