President Obama teaches us to address "race-based" disputes by seating the parties involved -- along with Vice President Joe Biden -- at his table over mugs of beer. We hereby offer candidates for 10 long-overdue presidential "Race Beer Summits":
10) Rep. Diane Watson, D-Calif., and Ward Connerly.
Prominent black businessman Connerly led California's successful grass-roots effort to repeal race- and gender-based preferences. Then-state Sen. Watson, a black woman and staunch affirmative action supporter, attacked Connerly: "He's married to a white woman. He wants to be white. He wants a colorless society. He has no ethnic pride. He doesn't want to be black."
9) The Rev. Al Sharpton and former prosecutor Steven Pagones.
In 1987, 15-year-old Tawana Brawley claimed that white racists abducted, raped and sodomized her -- scrawling the initials "KKK" on her with human feces. A grand jury later determined the entire incident a complete hoax. Sharpton, however, accused then-Assistant District Attorney Pagones of committing the crime! "We stated openly that Steven Pagones did it. If we're lying, sue us." Pagones did. A jury unanimously concluded that Sharpton defamed Pagones. Sharpton never apologized.
8) Jesse Jackson and Washington Post deputy managing editor Milton Coleman.
When Jesse Jackson, in 1984, called Jews "hymies" and New York City "Hymietown," then-reporter Coleman exposed Jackson's use of the epithets. Jackson initially challenged Coleman's credibility by denying he said those words. Nation of Islam leader Minister Louis Farrakhan called the black reporter a "traitor" worthy of death: "We're going to make an example of Milton Coleman. ... One day soon we will punish you with death." Jackson publicly apologized to the "Jewish community," but not to Coleman. Farrakhan apologized to neither. (The minister doesn't drink -- so no invitation.)
7) Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., and former President George W. Bush.
Then-Senate candidate McCaskill said, "George Bush let people die on rooftops in New Orleans (during Hurricane Katrina) because they were poor and because they were black."
6) Sen. Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y., and the New York branch of the NAACP.
In 1974, 16-year-old Jay Homnick and his father attended a meeting in New York's Flatbush area. Schumer, running for State Assembly, spoke to an audience of local whites and Italian, Jewish and Slavic immigrants, who wanted to remove three city blocks of Avenue K apartments. Why? The tenants were almost 100 percent black. Schumer, according to a 2006 American Spectator article by Homnick, told the group that if elected, he had a plan. The apartment buildings would be renovated and sold as condos. The original tenants would be offered the right to purchase the new condos, but these blacks would be priced out of the market.
5) Former Democratic National Chairman Howard Dean, the Republican National Hispanic Assembly and the Asian American and Pacific Islander National Republican Association.
Dean, who once referred to the Republican Party as the "white party," considers the GOP racist. "The Republicans are all about suppressing votes," Dean said. "Two voting machines if you live in a black district, 10 voting machines if you live in a white district." During a meeting with the Congressional Black Caucus, Dean said, "You think the Republican National Committee could get this many people of color in a single room? ... Only if they had the hotel staff in here."
Republicans took 35 percent of the "Asian vote" in the '08 presidential race. The percentage of the GOP "Hispanic vote" fell to 31 in 2008, but 40 percent of Hispanic voters in 2004 punched the chad for the "white party."
4) Harry Belafonte and former Secretary of State Colin Powell.
"There's an old saying in the days of slavery," said Belafonte in 2002. "There are those slaves who lived on the plantation, and there were those slaves who lived in the house. You got the privilege of living in the house if you served the master. Colin Powell was permitted to come into the house of the master."
3) Rep. Steve Cohen, D-Tenn., and the Congressional Black Caucus.
After winning a district formerly held by a black representative, Cohen -- whose district is 60 percent black -- unsuccessfully tried to join the CBC. Congressional Black Caucus Chairwoman Carolyn Cheeks Kilpatrick, D-Mich., said: "Mr. Cohen asked for admission, and he got his answer. ... It's time to move on. It's an unwritten rule. It's understood. It's clear."
2) House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charlie Rangel, D-N.Y., and Michael Steele, chairman of the Republican Party (both of whom happen to be black).
"It's not 'sp*c' or 'n****r' anymore," said Rep. Rangel after Republicans became the congressional majority in 1994. "They say, 'Let's cut taxes.'"
1) Sen. Al Franken, D-Minn., and overweight black people.
Franken once wrote a book called "Rush Limbaugh Is a Big Fat Idiot." The master radio host has since slimmed down. But according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, blacks have a 51 percent higher prevalence of obesity than whites.
Here's to hope and change -- with hops.