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Race and the Race

Further to my previous post about Jacob Weisberg's Slate article on race as the central factor in Obama's candidacy, see Matt Bai in today's NY Times saying this should not be overdone:

Mr. Obama faces genuine obstacles that are more salient than skin color. By any historical measure, he has remarkably little governing experience and almost none in foreign policy. And he represents not only a racial milestone in American life, but also a stark generational shift. It's hard to extricate these things from Obama's blackness. (If older white voters recoiled at Mr. Obama when he exchanged a fist-bump with his wife, were they reacting to his youth or to his race?) There are legitimate reasons that some older white voters might reserve judgment on Mr. Obama without being closet racists.

UPDATE: Yup, right on schedule. Also from today's NY Times: "Blacks Debate Civil Rights Risk in Obama's Rise. It seems keeping the grievance industry alive is more important than a historic breakthrough:

Last month, the debate bubbled up when The Root, a Web journal of black politics and culture, published a provocative essay titled "President Obama: Monumental Success or Secret Setback?" "If Obama becomes the president, every remaining, powerfully felt black grievance and every still deeply etched injustice will be cast out of the realm of polite discourse," wrote Lawrence Bobo, a black sociologist at Harvard University, who supports Mr. Obama and was outlining in the essay the concerns of some friends and colleagues. "White folks will just stop listening."
Categories > Presidency

Discussions - 7 Comments

"There is another class of colored people who make a business of keeping the troubles, the wrongs, and the hardships of the Negro race before the public. Having learned that they are able to make a living out of their troubles, they have grown into the settled habit of advertising their wrongs--partly because they want sympathy, and partly because it pays. Some of these people do not want the Negro to lose his grievances, because they do not want to lose their jobs... I am afraid that there is a certain class of race-problem solvers who don’t want the patient to get well, because as long as the disease holds out they have not only an easy means of making a living, but also an easy medium through which to make themselves prominent before the public." Booker T. Washington, "The Intellectuals and the Boston Mob," 1911

Prophetic, but will only further convince the current crop of those obssessed with racism against blacks that they are right, since it was spoken in 1911 when the disease was at its most severe.

There are two and only two healthy outcomes for American race-sanity when it comes to Obama. Either, 1) he loses to McCain narrowly, and the most prominent cause of his loss is some hyper-liberal blunder or personal scandal on his part, or 2) he wins, and the most prominent cause of his presidency's inevitable failure is again, some hyper-liberal blunder or personal scandal.

Otherwise, the very real factor of votes against him being generated by rascism will be magnified out of all proportion, and our race-relations will take a nose-dive. Not that they were good the last time the nation really talked about them in the pre-9/11 days. Conservatives, moderates, and heterodox liberals will repeat in vain the undeniable fact that in the America of 2008 Obama's race gains him more votes and feelings of goodwill than it those it subtracts. The sorts that Morel's quote describes will hang on to every last shred of rascism-evidence, no matter how flimsy, for dear life.

The irony is that Obama's skin color is the only thing he has going for him. If he was magically converted into Barry O'Brien, a white politician with the same resume, his appeal would be zero.

Barry O'Brien - same resume, same talents - would do pretty well, I think, given the contemporary competition.

A (very) liberal friend of mine accosted me a couple of weeks ago, excitedly stating that if Obama is beaten it will prove, beyond a doubt, just how racist this country still is.

I replied, and I honestly don’t know if he heard me, that under no circumstances would I vote for Obama.

Based on what little I know of people and their opinions today, I could vote for Rice or for Powell if either were running and they were a “choice,” but I could not and would not vote for Obama for the simple and pure reason that I almost completely disagree with his positions on issues and his intended approaches to problem solving.

If Obama loses… because of race… then perhaps we conservatives need to begin today to make it plain that it will be attributable to liberals, attributable to traditional democrats who remain racist, not because our general populace is racist. If they have a need to “reform” racists, they need to look within their own party, not without.

My liberal friend needs to understand that if Obama loses, it won’t be because conservatives are racist – it will be because conservatives are not willing to tolerate the continuing growth of socialism in this country.

Barry O'Brien - same resume, same talents - would do pretty well, I think, given the contemporary competition.

Really? Barry O'Brien, who has a record of hanging with assorted far-right radicals and terrorists of the KKK/Aryan Nation/Am Nazi Party sort, would have the same appeal? I'm no fan of the competition, but that just ain't so.

I don't know what you are talking about. I took "Barry O'Brien" to be a random, made-up name. I seem to have missed some reference. Maybe I should watch TV.

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