I once had the experience of a supervisor who deliberately attempted to block my progress in an organization. I had only been hired a few months, but I must have made a good first impression because when a promotion opportunity arose, the Head Honcho sent out an email asking for help and suggested my name as one possible candidate to assist him.
Except he did not send it directly to me. In keeping with appropriate organizational protocol, he sent the email to my supervisor asking for me to be released on a half-time basis to assist him with a project. My supervisor killed the email. He told me nothing. Instead he quietly offered the opportunity to another co-worker.
And I would have remained utterly ignorant had the Head Honcho been satisfied with my substitute. He was not. And long story short, I ended up getting the opportunity anyway. I found out about the backdoor maneuverings from the substitute who was angry at being replaced by a woman and went out of his way to make sure that I knew it.
At first I was really angry with my supervisor. And in fact, I never ever trusted him again. I remained a professional but I never lost my guard. I thought he was a snake.
It took me some time to calm down and to realize that at least a part of his motive was a desire to not lose my services in his Clinic. He wanted me all to himself and did not want to release me to take on a different kind of responsibility that he probably feared would eventually pull me out of his Clinic altogether. In fact, his offering of another colleague was ironically a statement of how little he valued that other individual. He was glad to get rid of him. Me he wanted to keep for himself, even if that meant blocking my progress. He knew that, like cream, I would keep rising. And that, perhaps, intimidated him.
Once I gained this different perspective, I was able to feel better about the situation – but I still never trusted him again. I understood the motive for his underhanded manipulation, but I still thought that he had behaved like a snake. And a snake is not someone I want near my bosom. Snakes are people that you want to keep in your sight, but never so close that their fangs can touch you.
I found myself thinking about this experience last night as I watched Hillary Clinton attempt her last, distasteful maneuver to hold on to power. The correct and appropriate thing for her to have done last night was to concede defeat. She had lost the f**king race. But she did not concede. Indeed, she spent so much time praising John McCain and so little time congratulating Barack Obama that all I could think of was what a snake she was.
I have learned many things from this election season. I’ve learned that racism is alive and well in America, but that the forces against it are far more powerful. I’ve learned that many people still see Blacks as underachieving and undeserving but that the people who hold these views are outnumbered by the ones with a more balanced perspective.
And I have learned that there is no damn difference between Bill and Hillary Clinton. They are the same damn people, cut from the same damn cloth. They are both aggressive, brilliant, ambitious, high-achieving, charming, and intelligent people. But they are also equally opportunistic, duplicitous, conniving, underhanded, backstabbing and untrustworthy. And they are a package deal, going down the road together in their unholy alliance that does not deserve to be called matrimony.
I listened closely to Hillary’s speech last night. I heard her talk directly to the 18 million people who had supported her, and I heard what I interpreted as an underlying call to the mob. She seemed to be appealing to them to stand their ground, to hold on until she gave the signal. I saw a woman so caught up in the frenzy of competition that she had no concept of how to lose graciously. Actually, she has no concept of how to lose, period. Her plan to become the President of the United States had been systematically calculated. Who was this person, this cream that had risen to the top despite her many efforts to obstruct him? This was not in the cards. She is choking with rage. She would rather join forces with John McCain who is supposed to be her Republican opponent, than validate the win of the Democratic Senator from Illinois. She is a snake at its most dangerous.
And for this reason Barack Obama cannot afford to risk selecting her as his running mate. A Vice-President must be someone you can trust, not someone who will stab you in the back in a heartbeat.
But he cannot make this decision at this time. He can’t risk pissing off the mob. They are already excited and frustrated, and it would be just a hop and a skip to anger. He needs to wait until emotions are cool. He needs to sit on this process and slow it down. He needs to placate her, and soothe her until her level of venom subsides and her fangs retract.
If I were Barack Obama, I would wait until 18 million people had gone back to worrying about how they are going to pay for gas and the price of food and whether their children will die in Iraq. And then I would offer Hilary Clinton an important-sounding position that would allow him to keep her in his sight, but not so close that her fangs can touch him. But if he makes her his Vice-President, he will live to regret it.