Saturday, January 12, 2008

The Race Card, Liberal Guilt and Our Next President

We are watching what portends to be a very ugly race for the Presidency – and not because of the lack of a clear front runner in either party. What portends to make this an ugly election is the spectre of racisim. In all fairness to Obama, he has not heretofore actively made his race central to his candidacy. Nonetheless, his candidacy for the President is inexorably taking on racial overtones while Obama himself remains silent.

The allure of Obama is not any of his demonstrated leadership qualities or his economic or foreign policy ideas. As piece after piece in the conservative press and some in the blogosphere have pointed out, Obama has very little experience for the presidency, and his claims to be able to unite the country are particularly disingenuous in light of his voting record as a hard line liberal. Yet none of this is discussed by the main stream media. Nor are his foreign policy pronouncements subjected to any analysis of the foreseeable consequences. Yet an Obama presidency that sees a complete and near immediate withdrawal from Iraq and an attack into Pakistani soil portends a foreign policy disaster perhaps even more destructive to U.S. interests than the presidency of Jimmy Carter. And as to his choice of associations, Obama is an active member of "an 'Afrocentric' church that bestows awards on Louis Farrakhan and practically defines itself through race-baiting." The mere whiff of something like this would be the death knell for any other candidate, yet the liberal MSM does nothing to question it.

Obama’s allure must of necessity lie elsewhere. I do not doubt that, to at least some extent, it is because of his charisma and his choice of themes. But that is only a part of it. Another part of his allure clearly stems in no small measure from the fundamental liberal belief that America is evil and, irrespective of today's reality, America's history of slavery and racisim paints all of the country with original sin. Supporting the African American Obama will have the singular effect of expiating one of liberal Americans' most deeply felt guilts. And thus, we have Obamamania - where his oratory alone is sited as the basis for popularity, and the liberal press gives him a free pass.

As the Washington Post, in an editorial supporting Obama, points out today:

. . . Not since 1896 -- when another rousing speechmaker, William Jennings Bryan, sought the White House – has the zeal for a candidate corresponded so little to a record of hard accomplishment. . .

The Obama phenomenon, then, stems not from what he has done but who he is. As the social critic John McWhorter has written, "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." He is the great white hope.

Of all the reasons I can think of to elect someone to office, and particularly during wartime, consideration of their race or gender are not among them. People of all races in America have been fighting against racisim for decades, and America of today, while hardly perfect, is very much a nation of equality. Racisim is not the defining issue facing America today. And expiating liberal guilt over the original sin of racisim will do nothing to protect our country from terrorism, it will do nothing to maintain or improve our economy, and it will do nothing to meet the rising challenges from China and Russia.

Having said that, if liberals choose to vote for Obama on the basis of his race, that is their right. And if liberals choose to affirmatively campaign for him on those grounds, that's fine also. (The same is true for Hillary on the grounds of her gender). But its the next logical step down that road that portends the real danger for our country. It is using charges of racisim to protect Obama from criticism. For example, watch this video of Bill Clinton stating that Obama’s claim to have always been against the Iraq War is a "fairy tale:"

There is nothing at all racial in what Bill Clinton said. It was a legitimate criticism of Obama. Yet as Obama stayed silent, the race card was played by his campaign and others:

The comments, which ranged from the New York senator appearing to diminish the role of Martin Luther King Jr. in the civil rights movement — an aide later said she misspoke — to Bill Clinton dismissing Sen. Barack Obama’s image in the media as a "fairy tale" — generated outrage on black radio, black blogs and cable television. And now they've drawn the attention of prominent African-American politicians.

"A cross-section of voters are alarmed at the tenor of some of these statements," said Obama spokeswoman Candice Tolliver, who said that Clinton would have to decide whether she owed anyone an apology."

Read the story here. And you can see a similar scenario playing out over Hillary Clinton's innocuous remarks regarding MLK. This is a dark cloud on the horizon. If this is what happens when Clinton challenges Obama, what is going to happen when Conservatives go after Obama's record and his choice of associations? If Obama supporters are allowed to make this next election an unspoken referendum on race and liberal guilt, than this is going to be a bloody Presidential election season indeed. It will be a tremendous disservice to an America where racisim is very much on the wane and equality, imperfect though it may be, is the rule, not the exception.

Obama can’t be allowed to have it both ways. If he is going to run on the platform that the color of his skin is a justification for his election to the Presidency, than he needs to say that publicly and be judged accordingly. And if he is not seeking the Presidency on his genetic heritage, than he needs to publicly denounce efforts to portray criticism of him as racist. He needs to be pressed about this in the MSM, and he needs to be pressed about it now. This is very much a substantive issue.

It would be wonderful if we could finally put a stake in the history of racism in America. But we are about to elect a President of the United States and we do so in time of war. We need an effective President, whether that be an African American, a woman, or an occidental male. What we do not need is a "great white hope." And I can think of no more a disingenuous method to expiate racisim than to decide how to vote on the grounds of race.

Update2: Since I composed this post a few days ago, the Washington Post has weighed in with a January 15 editorial making the same point, that the unsupported charges of racism emenating from Obama supporters portend to do great harm to our county. Further, it appears that Obama has ominously refused to denounce these unfounded allegations of racism. As the WaPo notes:

Mr. Obama didn't pick this fight. But he is abetting his supporters in their mischaracterizations when he says, "Senator Clinton made an unfortunate remark, an ill-advised remark . . . She is free to explain that. But the notion that somehow this is our doing is ludicrous."

And see this from Classical Values:

"Congrats, senator, you've just lost a supporter." That's what Brendan Loy says about Barack Obama's deliberate decision not to take the high road, and instead "let this racial stew fester":

At a conference call with reporters this morning, somebody asked Barack Obama about the Clintons' recent controversial remarks and Hillary Clinton's response to the kerfuffle. Thus, Obama had a golden opportunity to make clear that he does not believe the Clintons' remarks were racist or racially insensitive -- and he chose not to do so. Instead, he said a bunch of other stuff that I have no problem with, but failed to do the one thing he needs to do, which is to unambiguously disassociate himself from this race-baiting nonsense.

Via Glenn Reynolds, who adds,

The last thing we need is a President who encourages festering racial controversies.

Middle Americans who support Obama do so under the belief that he is as refreshing as he looks, and that he can heal America's racial disharmony. (Guilt also plays a strong role.) Having just demonstrated that he is not as refreshing as he looks, Obama has done precisely the type of thing which, if it does not cost him the Democratic nomination, will cause him to lose in November. . .


MK said...

As long as he's a liberal, they'll do anything, hide anything for him. If he had been a Conservative, well good luck son, he wouldn't even be on the radar.

Spook said...

He, like 'Hilldebeast', is a socialist. Could he also be the muslim 'Manchurian Candidate'?

M. Simon said...

The Democrat Party will not survive this fight.

Obama rose on identity politics. He will fall the same way.

Soccer Dad said...

You wrote:Having just demonstrated that he is not as refreshing as he looks...
Similarly, Charles Krauthammer wrote:Rising rock star puts down struggling diva -- an unkind cut, deeply ungracious, almost cruel, from a candidate who had the country in a swoon over his campaign of grace and uplift.
The observations are the same, though about different aspects of Sen. Obama's campaign.

It's his weakness. His candidacy is built on image; tarnish that image and his candidacy evaporates.

My only quibble is that I expect he'll get a lot more leeway on fostering racial tensions than on being graceless.

Weisz (Michel C. Zala) said...

Great Article - in fact - great blog site.

Indeed the Obama team runs an efficient campaign, which is based upon emotion, not facts. Many Americans are gullible and respoond to this kind of Hollywood approach. Since the man has no track record, is slippery and eloquent, I too devoted large segments of my blogs to the effort of scrutinizing this potentially dangerous and polarizing candidate.
I allowed myself to post a link to this great piece on my site and invite you to come on our blog roll.