Video Credited to BarackObama.com

Last week, President Obama’s campaign released an ad featuring Bill Clinton, praising the president for his tough decision in the assassination of Osama Bin Laden.

But the ad is facing criticism from the Romney campaign and fellow Republicans on grounds that it is divisive and too congratulatory.

A spokeswoman for Mitt Romney’s camp said, “It’s now sad to see the Obama campaign seek to use an event that unified our country to once again divide us in order to try to distract voters’ attention from the failures of his administration.”

However, it’s unclear as to what exactly is divisive about this ad; assuming- based on Romney’s former assessments that going after Bin Laden would be a waste of funds and resources- that he would not have made the same call? And that such a conclusion is reflective of the entire Republican Party, pitting it against the Democrats in such a pivotal illustration of Foreign Policy?

Well, unless Romney went back on his word, flip-flopping his way through the issues, then yes, it is unreasonable to assume he wouldn’t have made the same call as Obama. But if we are to take Romney at his word today, we must take him at his word in 2007. And the truth of the matter is Romney saw it as a waste of time to continue the search for Bin Laden; it is because Obama took the opposite stance that the United States can stand victorious and vindicated today.

Senator John McCain added to the soured sentiments, attacking the ad for praising the president’s decision, writing, “… President Obama is shamelessly turning the one decision he got right into a pathetic political act of self-congratulation.”

But since when has it become unsavory to highlight one’s accomplishments amidst a presidential election, especially? Politicians, including McCain, have in the past and will continue to in the future. Of course it’s fair game for Obama to use his own presidential accomplishment in his bid for re-election, just as Romney can talk all day about his biggest accomplishments, mainly his ability to accumulate wealth, if he so chooses. In politics, all you have are your strengths, and it’s ridiculously hypocritical to criticize anyone for relying on them.

The fact is that any positive political ad on both sides is essentially a self-congratulation- that’s the whole idea behind a “campaign-” a fact that is apparently unbeknownst to McCain. But had he picked up on this little tidbit back in 2008, maybe he would be the one running for a second term.

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It’s no secret Mitt Romney’s campaign strategy struggles to decide on an approach of Mitt “The Everyday Man,” or Mitt “The Unapologetically Rich Elitist.” My advice is to be as authentic as possible. The “common man” approach will simply be foiled by these revealing and recurring stick-your-foot-in-your-mouth moments, sure to sabotage any positive strides his campaign may achieve.

His most recent gaffe took place in Pittsburgh where he was invited into the Bethel Park Community Center for a sit-down with prospective local Republican voters. The families and Romney sat at a picnic table where a plate of cookies – along with chips, pretzels and lemonade – awaited him. The first words out of his mouth were nothing less than an insult, eying the cookies suspiciously – dismissing them as store-bought and unfit to be eaten. But as a matter of fact, the cookies were purchased from a popular local bakery, not from “the local 7Eleven,” as he initially surmised.

Of course this isn’t about his preference for or against cookies, but rather a bookmark on a pattern that continues to develop as the election season matures. If you recall the early Republican primaries you’ll remember: off-the-cuff remarks referencing his great friends who’ve found their wealth in owning NASCAR teams; nonchalant bets worth $10,000 to prove his point to Rick Perry; admitted lack of concern for the poor – as they are satisfactorily supported by their country; and necessarily requiring a private elevator built soley for the transport of his luxury car into his luxury home, to name a few. Now there’s no need to run and hide, backtrack or clean up behind these telling remarks, not that Romney’s tried. This is Mitt, our prospective Commander-in-Chief, in a fight to become the governing hand over a people he barely comprehends.

As much as he may try to pander to those in the deep south at rallies, boasting of a hearty Southern breakfast of eggs, biscuits and grits, or recruiting his son’s Spanish-speaking skills in vying for Hispanic support, he’s not the “Average American,” as there is nothing average or everyday about him. What he’ll fail to mention is he had that Good ‘Ol Southern breakfast prepared by a personal chef, and that the campaign season will be the last you’ll hear him speak to Hispanic Americans in their native tongue, at least until 2016. No, this is Mitt, but unfortunately for him, this isn’t so much about unfaltering honesty as much as it is about bad acting; perhaps a few lessons are in order. The arrogance, the out-of-touch-seeming remarks can all be left at home. We’re going to need you to pretend you know what it’s like to grocery shop, to live on a budget, to worry about paying for your children’s education, to contemplate plan B and C should you lose your job tomorrow. And for the future, should anyone try to serve you up some strange, suspicious baked goods again, try to ignore them and skip over quickly to a talking point. But if by some tragic chance someone directly offers one contaminated confection to you, take a bite, chew through the pain, and offer up an insincere compliment; this last option may drive the literal nail into your coffin, but hey, at least you’ll have their vote.

A recent discussion hosted by Fox News Channel caught my attention on the subject of the Honorable Louis Farrakhan and the appropriateness of his presence at the ninth annual African Black Coalition Conference at Berkley College. It was an event hosted by the Black Student Union on campus and garnered maximum attendance, despite petitions against his appearance.

While Farrakhan’s past writings are known for their controversial remarks and considerably racist, homophobic and anti-Semitic sentiments, the most disturbing aspect of this discussion was the lack of context afforded to Farrakhan and his audience; the highlights centered on shaming the student council for inviting him, and the audience for willingly attending. But for anyone to look at those students and condemn them for not forfeiting the opportunity to merely listen to the words of an historical black figure is simply and severely out of touch with the ever-evolving black perspective in America.

If I were given the chance to hear Farrakhan, I would’ve attended the talk, as well, and this fact makes me neither homophobic nor anti-white. The idea is mostly absurd for the simple fact that my own grandfather- once a sharecropper and migrant to the north in search of a new life- has said deplorable things certainly conditioned by his upbringing in the dawn of black civil activism, that I undoubtedly encourage him to keep within the privacy of his own home. He warns me to be cautious of the “white man” and to not be fooled by a phantom status they’ll lead me to believe that I now hold in this country. A we’ve-come-so-far-yet-not-far-enough mentality fueled by the fear that things could somehow return to their dark, inhuman roots are not in the least bit unrealistic or irrational for my grandfather and others of similar narratives. I simply brush these comments aside, listening and heavily diluting them, just as I would Farrakhan’s words. The fact is, I understand my grandfather’s perspective, as it is one I could never match, nor would I ever want to. It’s a knowledge- a seeing of things I have not seen, vivid memories of hate and restriction- a constant echoed pattern from yesterday that continue to chastise and frustrate his today.

This guilty-by-association conviction played out for Barack Obama in his 2008 campaign when it surfaced that his family had been regular members of Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s Trinity United Church of Christ. Just like Farrakhan, Wright has preached questionable content some would consider irrelevant to religion and out of place in the pulpit. Select media heads zoned in on this relationship and attempted to color Obama as an undercover hate-monger and racist. Now, I think it’s safe to assume that every Sunday, Wright wasn’t preaching some politically, racially-charged sermon, as I confidently doubt his 250+ Christian membership, with a prioritized interest in hearing the word of God, would make such a habit of attending as they have. No one seems to consider the relative anomaly of these digressions, and most importantly, what inspires such attitudes.

There’s no excuse for racism, whether your ancestry falls onto the side of the oppressor or oppressed, but rather this is a call for tolerable consideration and appreciation of why the formerly oppressed might be resentful and above all else, skeptical even in this modern day. Those like Reverend Wright, Louis Farrakhan and my grandfather are elders to my generation and younger, and feel a duty, more or less, to maintain our guard. And furthermore, simply picking up a book and learning about black history in the U.S. is enough to inspire the building of a defense mechanism, no wild, Farrakhan rhetoric needed. But whether that guard is as strong as iron or as brittle as glass is a personal matter, so do not look to Farrakhan, look to me.