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Bill Clinton: Player of the Year
(Written February 16, 2001. Published in The Black World Today February 17, 2001)

It's often been said that the player and hustler hold a unique place in African-American culture.  Dating back to African folk tales on through Superfly, Goldie and today's fascination with pimp-rappers Jay Z and Snoop Dogg, the player is admired for his survival skills and undefinable aura of coolness.

That is why Bill Clinton is black America's favorite president of all time.  He's the ultimate player.

By any definition of the term - success with females, ability to manuever out of dicey situations with minimal damage, mastering the art of getting over - Clinton clearly is the man.  In fact, he's been able to bounce trouble off his back and keep moving to such a degree that even Teflon Ron Reagan must marvel at Slick Willie's skills.   

His latest exploits just add to his legend. First he salvages the career of one of his wealthy campaign donors, Marc Rich, with a pardon just before his term is up, against the wishes of police, who once had Rich on their most wanted list.  Then he exits the White House with thousands of dollars in gifts that weren't intended for him.  Hoping to continue the lush working environment he'd become accustomed to in Washignton, he tries to get taxpayers to pay for his dream office in Manhattan at an expense of $800,000 a year. Finally, after public outrage prevented him from being able to secure that office, he flips the script and announces that he's moving to Harlem!

It's the last move that confirms Clinton's player instincts.  For every player knows that the key to recovering from a potentially damaging setting is to surround yourself with the ones who truly support you.  In Clinton's case, that happened to be African-Americans. But behind every moment of a player's glory, there exists dirt behind the scenes.

Lost in all the hoopla surrounding his new choice of offices was the breaking news about Clinton's pardon of Carlos Vignali, a large scale drug dealer with prominent social connections.  Under the Clinton administration, the number of black and Latino people imprisoned for petty drug dealing or use has risen exponentially, while whites remain the majority of actual dealers and users. Evidence exists that indicates that, as a general rule, whites with drug abuse problems are sent into rehabilitation, people of color sent into incarceration.

Despite this disparity, Clinton refused to look into the sentencing laws and ignored the pleas of the mostly poor minorities who are losing entire generations to the flawed and racist war on drugs.

Add the insensitivity on this issue to the destruction of welfare for the poor and half-hearted attempts at salvaging affirmative action, both issues that affect large numbers of African Americans, and what emerges is another of the player's personality traits: making the people who you exploit believe that you geniunely care about them. 

While many people hold Bill Clinton in high regard for his perceived "blackness," as defined by his saxophone playing, comfort with African Americans in social settings, and appetite for soul food, history will reveal his presidential policies to have been anything but helpful for the majority of African Americans.

It's time to take a second look at his accomplishments and perhaps engage in some player hating. 

Copyright 2001 Anthony Lamar Rucker and The Black World Today. All rights reserved.

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