Wednesday, September 19, 2007

Barrett O'Leary

Barack Obama: too good to place his hand on his heart, obviously showing his hatred of America and her Ideals*.

This is a fairly old article, written almost exactly a year ago, but it still is very relevant to today, and in fact when I first read it I thought it had been written recently. It is a piece by John McWhorther called "The Color of His Skin"

Imagine him white.

Barack Obama, that is. Amidst all the glowing talk about the possibility of his becoming America's first black president in 2008, it's an interesting thought experiment to imagine whether Mr. Obama would elicit this swooning buzz if he were white.

That is, let's imagine a white guy with all of Mr. Obama's pluses: crinkly smile, sincere concern for the little man, fine speech a couple of years ago about bringing the nation together, a certain charisma, wrote a touching autobiography. Let's call him Barrett O'Leary.

I do not think Mr. O'Leary would be touted a year-and-change into his Senate appointment as a presidential possibility. No knock on Mr. Obama intended, mind you. For all we know, he could have the genius for national statesmanship of a Disraeli. The point is that we don't know yet. Like any new senator, Mr. Obama has been quietly learning his way around the byzantine procedures of Senate lawmaking.

The key factor that galvanizes people around the idea of Obama for president is, quite simply, that he is black. Other things about him don't hurt, but that's all — they are not the deciding factor. Take away Mr. Obama's race and he's some relatively anonymous rookie. Barrett O'Leary, even if as cute and articulate as Mr. Obama, would have to wait at least another four years, and possibly six or seven, before being considered as a possible commander in chief.

What gives people a jolt in their gut about the idea of President Obama is the idea that it would be a ringing symbol that racism no longer rules our land. President Obama might be, for instance, a substitute for that national apology for slavery that some consider so urgent. Surely a nation with a black president would be one no longer hung up on race.

(read the rest here.)

It is a very thoughtful article and has many of the same thoughts I've had on this subject, why middle and upper class, predominantly white people are so swept up for Barack while a lot of black people aren't as convinced. I really don't think he would have this same kind of buzz or hype as a "new hope"- rather he would basically be John Edwards, without the platform and passion.

Even with the buzz of his "race" Barack's campaign is stagnating, with basically the same numbers in the polls as he had in February, which is about 20 points behind Hillary which caused John Dickerson of Slate to ask if it is time for his campaign to panic (my answer? yes)

But apparently other people are more hung up on race than policy ideas, like Jesse Jackson who criticized Obama and his response to the Jena 6 case as "acting like he's white" because he didn't speak out more forcefully against the injustice there (though to be fair Barack's upbringing was "more white" than the assumed typically black experience, what with his growing up in Kansas and Indonesia. And also I hate Jesse Jackson-he's irrelevant.) Even David Bowie acted in support of the Jena 6 by donating $10,000 to their legal defense fund.

It seems every day that we're living more and more fully in Hillary's world, and though I would be kind of upset I think I'm okay with that fact- I had a pleasant dream about it last night.

*and yes I do the same thing, with my hands clasped in front of me, but...America pisses me off sometimes and I'm a socialist and I'm not running for president.

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