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Monday, January 14, 2008

The Politics of Praising Omar

posted by on January 14 at 13:38 PM

In our comments, and in the comments over at Towleroad (which picked up my post about Barack Obama liking The Wire’s Omar), there’s some anger at the way Obama talked about the gay gangster.

Obama said of Omar, in part:

Hes this gay gangster who only robs drug dealers, and then gives back. You know, hes sort of a Robin Hood. And hes the toughest, baddest guy on this show, but hes gay, you know. And its really interesting. Its a fascinating character.

From our very own bober:

Obama says: “Hes the toughest, baddest guy on this show, but hes gay.”


Is that like being African American but “articulate and clean?” Obama supporters freaked out when Sen. Joe Biden said he was the first African American candidate who was “articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy … “

It’s not unusual for gay people to be bad-ass and tough - look at Alexander the Great and the Sacred Band of Thebes.

Towleroad’s PeterParker makes the same point. But Slog’s Elenchos smacks back with a very plausible counter-argument:

Obama’s probably attracted to the fact that this is a character that could have been yet another stereotyped gay or stereotyped black, and instead the character goes against type. He doesn’t conform to the mold, and he’s popular. Sort of like Obama.

RSS icon Comments


People have making too big a deal out of semantics these last few weeks. Especially when it comes to something said by, or about, Obama.

Posted by Rotten666 | January 14, 2008 1:51 PM

I agree w/ Elenchos. It seems to me like the whole reason Obama finds Omar interesting and subversive is because the character breaks stereotypes.

Posted by John At Work | January 14, 2008 1:51 PM

Well, look at Dan. The man looks like a total pussy. Combine that with the fact that most people's exposure to gay men are exactly like Dan, typical flamer, is this really a surprise or all that difficult to accept?

Unless you think it is macho for a guy to do a little dance and flourish when he enters a room in daisy dukes...

Posted by ecce homo | January 14, 2008 1:53 PM

This is the part of politics that I really really hate.

Posted by monkey | January 14, 2008 1:54 PM

ecce homo can't possibly be gay. theres just no way.

Posted by Bellevue Ave | January 14, 2008 1:56 PM

elenchos has it down.

Now, can we please move on?

Front page of the Wall Street Journal is all about how GWB is still trying to lie us into a fake war with Iran, and how nobody is buying it.

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 14, 2008 2:00 PM

@4, I agree with you completely. I hate how semantics in politics can be engineered to make those that don't or can't take the time to decipher things on their own seem completely negative and portray an image of the person that's 180 degrees from what you already think of them.

When will people start staying shit out of Hillary's book and previous speeches she gave during the 80s and 90s before she ran for the Senate? She deserves it as much as Obama.

Posted by apres_moi | January 14, 2008 2:02 PM

#5 BA

I am as queer as a 3 dollar bill.

And it is really a disgusting thing to question another's sexuality.

I don't question the fact that you like banging dog's. I believe you when you say you do.

Posted by ecce homo | January 14, 2008 2:07 PM

I agree. No I disagree... how many *&$#goddamn more months of this?!!!!

Posted by polka lips now! | January 14, 2008 2:11 PM


Posted by eloise | January 14, 2008 2:13 PM

I tell ya, it's tough to be in the public eye these days. Every little half-assed, bleary-eyed blog entry and off-the-cuff aside to a friend with a live mike somewhere nearby is ruthlessly parsed and analyzed to death. I shudder to think what kind of trouble I would get in with the shit I say walking around the halls at work. Jesus.

Posted by Matthew | January 14, 2008 2:24 PM

I'm sure if these "progressive" people look hard enough they'll find a reason not to vote for a black man.

Posted by mikeblanco | January 14, 2008 2:28 PM

Oh now Ecce - Don't forget, you used to wear Daisy Dukes until you got those varicose veins and developed your leakage problem.

But you still cut quite a dashing figure in your chaps - as long as you remember to wear jeans and appropriate undergarment beneath them. Remember how embarassed you where when that security guard at the Westin called you "flabby ass"?

Posted by catalina vel-duray | January 14, 2008 2:58 PM

Obama gets big points for even admitting to liking The Wire. It's a controversial show. Most politicians would have responsed to the question, "What's your favorite tv show?" with something vague and inoffensive, like sports and news shows.

Now Hillary will have to come out and say her favorite shows are "Sex and the City" and "Ugly Betty" to get in good with da gayz...

Posted by michael strangeways | January 14, 2008 3:06 PM

Well, of course, everyone loves Ugly Betty.

(an aside, I literally saw Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants this past week ...)

Posted by Will in Seattle | January 14, 2008 3:11 PM

Of course Obama was quoted out of context. He went on to say that he is especially pleased that "Omar believes there should be universal health care, but is not in favor of mandates, and that Omar was opposed to the Iraq war from the beginning."

Posted by bobbo | January 14, 2008 3:41 PM

I agree with Elenchos. Characters like that are almost always portrayed as poon hounds.

Posted by Gitai | January 14, 2008 3:44 PM

WTF is The Wire? Is that on one of those expensive pay channels? Seems kinda bourgee to be talking about that on the campaign trail.

I like Obama, but fuck, he might as well be telling us why he likes his DTS more than his 5-series.

Posted by Dougsf | January 14, 2008 4:13 PM

@18: Well, except for the fact that seasons 1-4 are already on DVD, making it accessible to poor saps without even regular cable (me).

Posted by annie | January 14, 2008 4:23 PM

Awww, i havent seen an ecce homo comment in so long, i was starting to worry that his mouth had finally written a check his body couldnt cash (Sorry, Top Gun was on last night). It's like the SLOG has its own resident Oscar the Grouch.

Posted by longball | January 14, 2008 4:24 PM

#19 - I wasn't aware, and I guess that's a sorta good point. I think I've still got a raw nerve from all the rich kids that used to talk about how awesome Fraggle Rock is.

Posted by Dougsf | January 14, 2008 4:39 PM

Those rich kids were not wrong.

Posted by Lisa | January 14, 2008 4:43 PM

"The Wire" has to be the best, most subversive, show on TV. Clinton's favorite is "Grey's Anatomy," which she presumably poll-tested for its vanilla innocuousness. Along with banning flag-burning it's probably part of her union-busting pollster's triangulation strategy.

Posted by Brendan | January 14, 2008 4:59 PM

OBVIOUSLY Obama meant he thought it was cool that they made Omar gay, everyone thinks it's cool that they made Omar gay because it IS cool that they made Omar gay. Good GOD. People are morons.

Also for saying it's bourgie to say the Wire is your favorite show. Yes, I've seen it all on dvd and I don't have HBO, but mainly - it's THe WIRE! And it's his favorite show and he SAID SO!

Posted by Phoebe | January 14, 2008 6:14 PM

Hey, I'm totally believing you people it's a great show. I've already admitted defeat on this one - we ALL saw it on Netflix I guess, OK?!

I'm just saying, it irritates me a little for the same reason it probably speaks to the average American voter... complain about gas prices, utility prices, middle class can't get ahead, blah blah blah (all of these good arguments), but think nothing of your $70+ cable bill. That's totally normal.

A little piece out of Bush jr.'s "he's probably a cool dude to have a beer with" playbook, and it's going to get him elected.

I'm probably going to vote for him too, but I'm going to be annoyed while I'm doing it.

Posted by Dougsf | January 14, 2008 7:02 PM

If it's any consolation, you do you have to be pretty smart to figure out exactly which is the right TV show to say you like to get yourself elected president. If it were as easy as it looks, everybody would do it.

Posted by elenchos | January 14, 2008 10:01 PM

Television? Is that that moving picture box that some people have in their parlours, nowadays?

Posted by NapoleonXIV | January 15, 2008 1:33 AM

dougsf I extend my excitable paw to you for a shake. But if you do netflick the thing, I really think you will be less annoyed while you vote for Obama! Neflix has reduced their rates, btw.

And elenchos, do you think he just said it because it was popular? I think he really likes it. And I also don't think it's popular except with an extremely vocal minority. It's a very hard series to start watching in the middle, for one thing.

Posted by Phoebe | January 15, 2008 1:55 PM

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