Black Is…Not Necessarily Skin Color…Rhetoric, Or Posture (Including Mine)
Is Dennis Kucinich the Black Candidate?
by BAR managing Editor Bruce Dixon
“The Cleveland congressman’s record matches the best of the Congressional Black Caucus across the board.”
By now, most of us have seen a Congressional hearing or two on TV and can reconstruct the familiar scene in our minds. A continuous row of desks on a raised platform, complete with nameplates and microphones occupies one wall. Opposite them are chairs for spectators and in the middle you’ll see tables at which those testifying can face the members of Congress, with space between those tables and the members for cameras and recording devices. But when Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Cleveland, Ohio convened what may have been the first ever Congressional hearings into the civilian death toll of the three-year-old Iraq war, the room’s layout was dramatically different.
Kucinich was the lone member of Congress present at the hearing. The imposing row of raised desks, nameplates and microphones against one wall was vacant. Kucinich sat at the same table with Middle East scholar Juan Cole of the University of Michigan, and with two authors of the peer-reviewed Lancet study which fixed the number of excess deaths produced by the US invasion of that unhappy land at about 650,000 to date, more than 200 dead Iraqis for each American. The four men at the table faced a small number of media and spectators.
Not a single one of the 75-strong member Congressional Progressive Caucus was in attendance. Not one member of the Congressional Black Caucus was present. Three days earlier, Congressman Kucinich had declared himself a candidate for the Democratic nomination for president in 2008.