Obama and Nutter - Repeating Myself
"The country needs to elect a black president someday soon. Then we can get past race as an issue. Obama may be the one.
My hesitation due to his slim resume is he will be a lousy president because I can’t forget the two worst mayors Philly ever had were Wilosn Goode and John Street- they were both educated and smart but in office were utter failures...." Wendy Whinner
Wendy wrote that in response to a thoughtful piece on the presidential candidates by Susie Madrak over at Suburban Guerrilla. Both Wendy and Suzie make excellent points.
But. I'm tired of all the talk framing Barack Obama as the new Messiah.
Which is of course, absurd. There could have been others. There will be more. But Black or White, they must be qualified. And to anoint Barack Obama as The One is over the top, especially for such an untested leader.
Especially when you consider that here in Philly we just inaugurated an Obama-esque Black mayor who could in fact bring salvation to our city -- Michael Nutter.
Philly's savior doesn't have Obama's looks, but he preaches a potent message of change. One big difference: Nutter possesses the far more important qualities of business experience, political savvy and gravitas.
I said back in May when Nutter won the mayoral primary:
It's odd, for example, that in a city with a strong African American majority, a black man widely seen by other blacks as "not one of us," elitist and having more in common with whites still won big.
It's even odder that nobody's made the Barack Obama connection.
Michael Nutter, while 100% African American, was raised like a middle class white kid. He walks and talks like one. Don't get all knee-jerk liberal on me, I'm reporting a consensus even Nutter acknowledges.
Growing up, the Nutters they didn't talk about race, they focused on education and hard work. On pride and self respect. On ethical behavior and correct English (Nutter's father eschewed ghetto-speak). They weren't rich but Nutter got scholarships to a private Catholic prep school. And to Penn, where he earned a Wharton business degree for crying out loud.
Michael Nutter's got his funky little humanizing quirks too: he worked as a Disco DJ, couldn't cut it in medical school "and the world is a safer place" he reports with his trademark dry humor and clear diction. Married 16 years, he has a 23-year-old son from "a previous relationship." Ahem.
Nutter's more than a bit of a nerd and a loner, but he's got creds. That Wharton degree got him placed at Xerox and as a financial advisor before he joined the political arena.
I answered Wendy with a post of my own on Suzie's blog.
Wilson Goode and John Street may have paper credentials, but both are pedestrian politicians with neither vision nor gut-level belief in themselves or the people they serve.
Both worshiped more at the Church of Corporate Greed than in the crumbling schools and neighborhoods of genuine need. They took their constituents for granted and let them down.
White mayors have done the same, it's true, but sad to say they've had something Black mayors have lacked: undivided agendas. Without that essential political currency, Goode and Street are just two more failures and liars.
Joe Clark, Bill Green and Ed Rendell, not a saint among them -- yet in their time, smart, credentialed, connected and White, three of the best (White, Black or Hispanic) mayors in the country.
Michael Nutter might just crack the code in Philly.