Chris Matthews, famous--among other things--for his case of the tingles upon once watching Obama take a room, now tells us
(and later defends it on Rachel Maddow's show) that he "forgot [Obama] was black for an hour" while watching the SOTU. Whatever his explanation, I find this a strange and a revealing thing to be compelled to say. His point, I guess, is to continue or, really, to re-introduce the whole "post-racial" meme that Obama is supposed to represent. But isn't it interesting that Matthews and people of his political persuasion, are the folks who seem continually to be the ones bringing up the question of Obama's race? Well, maybe them and a few wingnuts from the American Nazi Party or the KKK. But that's not company I'd be proud to keep . . .
The thing is, it isn't really Obama, per se
, who is post-racial. If anything, it is America. And I'm rather tired of the argument that Obama is anything but the beneficiary of this fact. He didn't make it so (and he's not old enough to have had anything to do with it); it just is so. I think the thing that really shocks Chris Matthews is that most of America--that is, the only important or meaningful segments of America--really doesn't care about Barack Obama's race one way or the other. He is accepted or criticized by most Americans in much the same way that any other president has been or would be. The only outliers, as I say, are the knuckle-dragging and last remaining racist hold-outs (of no significant political importance) and the self-important, guilt-ridden, condescending, liberals of the Matthews variety. Matthews can't seem to wrap his mind around the concept that America is not the frightful racist bogey man of liberal nightmares. It's constantly surprising and shocking to him, especially when he finds himself forgetting the default position of his ideology--that America is an intensely imperfect place forever guilty of great injustice and in need of constant reminders of that imperfection.
It has been suggested to me in the past that, perhaps, I should cut guys like Matthews more slack because this is, in most ways, a generational thing. People who lived through a time (as I have not) when race relations were abominable might justly be entitled to feel more surprise than I feel at the absence of racism. But I'd like to suggest that its time for them to cut America more slack. It's time to recognize victory, proclaim it and accept it. This is, in the end, the only real way to assure that it remains one. Scratching old wounds tends only to make them sore.