Friday, April 27, 2007

Barack continues to gain on Hillary

Some interesting thoughts on Obama's edge because he is black, from John McWhorter at The Economist (hat tip Instapundit). I am long some Obama, Richardson, and Warner (the last position is underwater). An excerpt:

IT is reasonable to surmise that Barack Obama will be the next President.
Mr Obama has a once-in-a-lifetime charisma that Hillary Clinton could never approximate, and she also suffers from the handicap of not being black. For all of his other plusses, part of Mr Obama’s appeal lies in the fact that many whites feel that voting for a black presidential candidate would be Doing the Right Thing. Leon Wieseltier has been explicit about this; he is not unique.

Some object that white voters have often claimed to support black candidates only to refrain from actually pulling the lever for them. But does this unquestionably apply to the Obama case? Are all those swooning whites fighting their way into his appearances racists deep-down, chasing Mr Obama as a rock star but loth to vote for "one of those people" as a President? There are blacks, after all, who have designated Obama "the kind of black they’re comfortable with".

As for Republicans Mr Obama would be up against, assuming that Rudy Giuliani could not get the nomination because of his leftish background, I submit that Mitt Romney lacks the Element X to sway voters on the fence, and would only attract the party faithful. The same would be true of John McCain, looking and acting all of his 70 years. The bloom is off the rose.

It will be intriguing to see what a certain contingent makes of it if we finally have a black president. All rhetoric about America as an apartheid nation, racist to its core, will run up against the fact—which will ironically feel inconvenient to this contingent—that the man who wakes up every morning in the White House and flies on Air Force One is black.

Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell have not really counted in this regard. Serving a Republican administration renders them to an extent "not really black" in the eyes of many, and neither devotes much effort to "identifying" with the black community. But Mr Obama would be a Democratic president, and with no war blood on his hands.

One person can, after all, be more culturally black than another one. We are trained to roll our eyes and say “What’s that all about?” when this is brought up. But if blackness is about nothing but having a certain amount of pigment, then we seem to have gone back to some assumptions that bring to mind sepia-toned photographs and words like miscegenation.

In an America with increasing numbers of biracials, it’s time to start this conversation, and a President Obama would be a useful kick off.

No comments:

Post a Comment