What Did the DNC and RNC Have in Common?

Almost zero mentions of black issues. But if Obama gets a second term, maybe that will change.

Alex Wong/Getty Images; the Washington Post/Getty Images
Alex Wong/Getty Images; the Washington Post/Getty Images

(The Root) — Witnesses to this week’s DNC or last week’s RNC conventions could easily come to the same conclusion: African-American issues were about as invisible as the imaginary President Obama in Clint Eastwood’s staged chair.

During the Republican National Convention’s truncated three-day conference, there was Obama-bashing galore, with frequent mentions that the unemployment rate has been 8 percent or higher since the former U.S. senator from Illinois was sworn in as POTUS more than three and a half years ago. A debt clock served as a timely prop to remind us of how many trillions Obama’s failed leadership has single-handedly put us in the hole because of his reckless spending and big government policies.

There was even a minority hour so that rising black GOP stars — Mia Love, the mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah; South Carolina Rep. Tim Scott, the Allen West wing nut wannabe; and Artur Davis, the estranged former Democrat congressman from Alabama turned Republican sweetheart — could mouth conservative talking points and get their 15 minutes of national fame. With the exception of these token appearances and former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice’s speech, there was virtually no mention of black folks, and so few were present that comedian and author Baratunde Thurston could count them and did — 143 out of about 50,000.

The Democrats, of course, looked better. Twenty-seven percent of the delegates in Charlotte were black. But save for civil rights legend Rep. John Lewis, who talked about voter suppression and then delivered a tear-inducing tale of being beaten bloody back in 1961 after entering a whites-only waiting room in Rock Hill, S.C., there wasn’t much more discussion of black issues among the Democrats than there had been among the Republicans. Three members of the Congressional Black Caucus made cameo appearances, addressing voter suppression and speaking the same red, white and blue platitudes the president would speak later in his acceptance speech. First lady Michelle Obama reminded us why her husband had us at hello four years ago, while the “first black president,” Bill Clinton, ripped the hide off the herd of lies the Republicans have been running through campaign ads and in media interviews.

The Democratic convention, as a whole, was designed to simultaneously appeal to that sliver of undecided voters who will choose the winner and fire up the party rank and file to assure that they’re ready to go.

In his acceptance speech, the president made a reasoned pitch for the four more years he needs to finish the job he’s started. President Obama talked about the taxes he’s cut, the manufacturing jobs he’d like American workers to have and the green jobs his administration has helped fuel. He also talked about recruiting 100,000 math and science teachers, ending the Iraq War as promised and not turning Medicare into a voucher system — but not a word about black unemployment.