March 18, 2008

Are we all going to be hoodwinked by Obama? I don't get it. I scoured the internet for some discussion of his Big Speech on race and could not find criticism of it.

(I did make the mistake of reading Andrew Sullivan--what happened to that guy? He really is afloat. He is so effusively pro-Obama as if to prove that he is, daily, an ever greater irrelevancy)

I, for one, don't think that the simple, oft-repeated fact of having an African dad and a Kansan mom makes you qualified to be president of the U.S. in 2008 even in the absence of any experience in such a role. Call me crazy. And if he wins, we are going to hear that vaunted storyline until we implode.

What convinces me that Obama cannot be president was this section of his speech:

“I suppose the politically safe thing would be to move on from this episode and just hope that it fades into the woodwork,” Mr. Obama said. “We can dismiss Reverend Wright as a crank or a demagogue, just as some have dismissed Geraldine Ferraro, in the aftermath of her recent statements, as harboring some deep-seated racial bias.”

This is a really interesting kind of reverse race baiting, deftly applied by a skillfull speaker. If you think one side is extreme, Obama says, then you are the same as any extremist. Obama can smear anyway he wants because, you see, he is above it all. But making this equivalence is really as much dodge as smear. And saying that we must confront both Wright's posturing and Ferraro's indelicateness is insuring that Obama is lifted free, Christ-like, from any criticism.

But was it really "deep-seated racial bias" that made Ferraro state, baldly but accurately, that race is somehow important to the candidacy of Obama (who has an African dad and a Kansan mom, in case you missed one his books or any of his speeches), or was it simply plain speaking?

Now, Rev. Wright is a caustic African-American preacher raining damnation down upon racist white America that really does reek of "deep-seated racial" anger if not bias. Obama can "distance" himself from this rhetoric without actually dismissing him, but the fact is that any white politician who went to a racially charged church would be up a creek.

And isn't there a difference between extreme political views of a racist country (Wright) and the sober consciousness of the salience of race in the presidential race from a Ferraro? Is it really equivalent to say that condemning the idea that US as a thoroughly racist place (or, as Mrs. Obama did, the claiming never to have been proud to be an American) is the same as pointing out that Obama is getting special treatment as a candidate because he is a smart, well-spoken African American?

No comments: