29. March 2008 · Comments Off on Obamania Part Two · Categories: Ain't That America?, General, Media Matters Not, Politics

(Part one is here)
As was noted by a number of other bloggers and commenters, one doesn’t usually have a choice about your relations. Parents, cousins, grandparents and all; you’re stuck with them, as embarrassing as they are. Friends or spouses, business partners or clergy — those we choose — and we are known for good or ill by the company that we keep. Barack Obama’s chosen clergyman and mentor, Reverend Jeremiah Wright, has been shouting pernicious and venomous nonsense from the pulpit, apparently to great applause, every Sunday for twenty years. From this distance, he sounds too much like a black version of Fred Phelps for my taste. Black racism ought to be just as much the political kiss of death as white racism.

And perhaps it is – since well-meaning people of pallor seem to be fed to their back teeth with having “you racist!” screamed at them, every time they voice a mild criticism of controversial mayors like Ray Nagin and Marion Barry, or buffoons like Al Sharpton – or any one of those other race-card playing luminaries, who seem to have no more qualifications for the position they hold other than a whip-lash inducing swiftness in accusing critics of racism. Here we are in this year 2008; at least forty years since casual social racism was acceptable in most circles, more than that since racial segregation was the law of the land, sixty years since it was the common practice of the military, a hundred and forty since chattel slavery was outlawed utterly – well, really, what better time to have a conversation about race and racism in American society? Even if it is a rather academic discussion; most of the people who are not paid to care about racial relations simply don’t care all that much. They just get on with living and working.

So here’s the ultimate bottom line: give or take a couple of points either way, the percentage of Americans identified as ‘black’ lingers somewhere about in the low teens. A politician who has made a career about being ‘black’ and being the ‘great black hope’ just is not going to get much traction nationally, even if he or she can get all of that ‘black’ block to vote for them. They have to appeal to everyone else in the body politic, and a great many of them, too. Kicking a white, or Hispanic or Asian voter in the teeth in order to make points with the black constituency on Sunday, and then turning around and asking those white, or Hispanic or Asian voters to vote for you on Monday isn’t going to work all that well. It’s why Jesse Jackson never got vary far with any of his bids for national office. Considering his established track record, one really couldn’t picture him kissing Anglo babies or eating breakfast tacos on the South Side with much enthusiasm.

A serious candidate for higher office has to be able to do that – just like a woman seeking higher political office cannot be too closely identified as a radical feminist. You can’t make your initial appeal to the angry fringe, and then move smoothly on in appealing to the majority, not after spending months or years bashing the very people you are asking to vote for you. It just will not work, as Senator Obama probably already realized. His initial appeal was precisely because he appeared to be a skilled and polished mainstream politician who just happened to have the year-round permanent dark tan. Alas, the association with the Reverend Wright (not to mention his apprenticeship in Chicago machine politics) has revealed him as just another race-card player like Sharpton or Jackson, only with nicer suits and a more polished manner. Pity that. We will have a black president in the near future, but he or she won’t be one of those whose identity and appeal has been built exclusively as a ‘black’ candidate. They will be a candidate whose color is incidental to who they are and what their qualifications are; someone from the mainstream, someone like Colin Powell, or like the late mayor of Los Angeles, Ed Bradley.

(Later: amusing video from Conservativeintelligencer.com, “>here )

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