‘Mad Men’ and black characters: Negative depictions in the name of diversity?

It’s all about choice. When artists create, they decide what to present, what to leave out and what to make up. A work of art need not follow any script, except the one in its creator’s head.

But when part of the appeal of that creation is realism, a promise that the fiction accurately depicts what is or what was, the game changes and the artist should be prepared for the criticism that is sure to follow if his or her version of truth seems inaccurate.

Will GOP opposition stop Mel Watt’s confirmation?

When President Obama nominated Rep. Mel Watt (D-N.C.) to lead the Federal Housing Finance Agency, he praised the North Carolinian’s experience. “Mel has led efforts to rein in unscrupulous mortgage lenders,” the president said. “He’s helped protect consumers from the kind of reckless risk-taking that led to the financial crisis in the first place. And he’s fought to give more Americans in low-income neighborhoods access to affordable housing.”

The President made the announcement in the same week he introduced Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx to replace Ray LaHood as Transportation Secretary, extending North Carolina’s moment in the political spotlight and allaying criticism that his second-term high level appointments lacked diversity.

However, Watt’s nomination still has to be approved by the Senate. When I spoke with him the day after his White House appearance with the president, he was ready. “I will do what I need to do in the process to complete the information for the United States Senate, show up when they ask me to, meet with the people that I need to meet with,” he said. “The Senate will set that time table.”

Whether that will be enough is something he wouldn’t speculate on. The initial response to his nomination has been both support and criticism from across the ideological spectrum, not unexpected considering the role of housing financing in the country’s economic upheavals.

What Foxx’s promotion means for him, the White House and Charlotte

CHARLOTTE — When Charlotte Mayor Anthony Foxx said that he would not run for the third term he was almost guaranteed to win easily, most folks in town figured something big was in his future. The explanation everyone expected officially came on Monday when President Obama announced Foxx, a Democrat, was his choice to join his second-term cabinet as Secretary of Transportation. The White House praised Foxx’s dealing with federal, state, regional and local transportation issues.

Foxx, who turns 42 on Tuesday, is Charlotte second African American mayor, the city’s youngest when he was first elected in 2009. No one in the region is surprised. When the FBI starts vetting you, it’s pretty hard to keep it a secret, especially in a Southern city that can be more like a small town.

Can Raffi Williams win the minority vote for Republicans?

Raffi Williams has a tough job ahead of him. He’s just been named deputy press secretary at the Republican National Committee, tasked with taking the party’s message to young and African-American voters and black media. His appointment is in line with the GOP effort to attract rather than alienate minorities and improve its showing in future elections.

It’s all part of the plan outlined in an “autopsy” of the party’s weaknesses, presented recently by RNC chair Reince Priebus.

It won’t be easy, but then, Williams is more prepared than most 24-year-olds for the challenges of Beltway-based politics. He grew up debating issues with his father, Fox News analyst Juan Williams, over dinner.

As Biden heads to Selma, will black voters embrace him as Obama’s successor?

In fitting tribute to his leadership in the 1965 march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in Selma, Ala., and his lifelong commitment to civil rights, U.S. Rep. John Lewis will once again be in the lead March 3, in the annual commemoration of that pivotal walk. Among the many following this Sunday will be Vice President Joe Biden, accompanied by his wife. They also plan to attend the Martin and Coretta King Unity Brunch, according to White House and Selma officials.

Biden built on his support from many African-American voters as he has played a strong No. 2 to the first African-American president. At the July 2012 NAACP convention where Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney received a decidedly mixed reaction for comments disparaging, among other things, “Obamacare,” Biden left the audience wanting more.

But will black voters, particularly the black women who knocked on doors and made the phone calls in 2008 and 2012, be there for Biden if he decides to run in 2016? And if Hillary Clinton, after enjoying her post Secretary of State down time, decides to capitalize on her current front-runner status, how will her candidacy affect Biden’s support?

Will Obama’s proposals stop black gun violence?

CHARLOTTE – It’s not Newtown, Conn., where a massacre at an elementary school galvanized the nation and spurred Washington to act. Nor has it become a symbol of gun violence like Chicago. In fact, last year in Charlotte, the number of homicides actually decreased to 52, the lowest number in 24 years. But in a 2012 incident that echoes others around the country, a 17-year-old African-American boy here was shot and killed after another teen thought the victim disrespected him in front of a girl. The five young black men charged in his murder were teenagers as well.

So officials and community leaders here are closely watching the national debate over reducing gun violence. And when asked about the president’s proposals, which include a ban on assault weapons, universal background checks and limits on high-capacity magazines, they praise the ideas, but emphasize those are only a partial solution.

Is a diverse presidential ticket necessary for a GOP recovery?

After a resounding Electoral College loss in the 2012 presidential election, many have offered reasons and advice for Republicans hoping to turn it around in 2016. There’s been no shortage of blame heaped on Mitt Romney for a personality and message that never came into focus, except when the candidate was caught on tape complaining about the 47 percent of non-Romney voters or suggesting that Obama voters were bought with gifts of government services.

But the loudest chorus has been repeating the chant “demography is destiny,” noting the failure of the GOP to woo and win African-Americans, Hispanics, Asian-Americans and the young, especially young female voters. Casting a clear eye on America in the future and the Democratic ticket that prevailed in the past two elections, will either party – particularly Republicans trying to reach out – ever again field a ticket that looks like Romney/Ryan and most every other in the history of the United States?

4 years after Obama’s breakthrough, few black pols on the ballot for major offices

Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick was a hit at the Democratic National Convention in September with a spirited speech that defended the party’s principles. In a recent trip back to Charlotte to campaign for the president, he continued his attack on Mitt Romney as someone who, while a “very, very skilled campaigner,” cut funding for education and “stymied innovation” when he held Patrick’s job.

A future presidential prospect? The rapt volunteers at an Obama campaign office thought so, as they happily imagined Patrick on the 2016 ticket. With his place in the pipeline that leads to national office, the only sitting black governor in the country is a standout. But he also stands alone. Four years after Barack Obama’s historic election as the nation’s first black president, there are fewer African-Americans in the U.S. Senate and governor’s offices across the country than at the time of his 2009 inauguration…