Why isn’t Obama doing better in the polls? The answer no one wants to hear
by John Heilemann
C'mon admit it. You're not voting for Obama because you're a racist. The fact that his domestic policies reek of Karl Marx and his foreign policies sound like something Neville Chamberlain would come up with has nothing to do with it. You are just a rascally racist!
I knew the left would try this angle; I just never imagined the whining would start this early.
The desire to ignore the elephant in the room is easy to understand, but Obama will not have that luxury. With the Jeremiah Wright fiasco, Obama was stripped of his post-racial image, transformed in the eyes of many whites from a candidate who happened to be black into a black candidate. And now he faces a Republican machine intent on blackening him further still. Add to that his exotic background (Kenyan father, Indonesian upbringing), his middle name, his urbanity and intellectualism, and the scale of the challenge ahead for him comes into sharp relief. Whereas Reagan was an otherwise familiar archetype who needed to convince America that he was neither senile nor crazy, Obama has to make the country comfortable with the most unusual profile of any person ever to come within spitting distance of occupying the White House—while at the same time preventing the election from becoming a race consumed by race.
I do happen to own a color television; I was able to discern Barack Obama's race for myself before the Jeremiah Wright scandal, thank you very much. Somehow, Heilemann manages to miss the fact that what America objected to about Wright had absolutely nothing to do with race but can be summed up with Wright's emphatic, "God Damn America" from the pulpit. Heilemann also conveniently omits two other Obama associates from his analysis -- William Ayers and Beradine Dohrn. Furthermore, it wasn't Reagan's "familiar archetype" that won him the presidency twice. It was his policies (oh yeah, and the fact that he managed not to make friends with anyone who happily admits to bombing the Pentagon). If Obama imitated Reagan's policies, he would win in a landslide. Instead, Obama takes a page from Jimmy Carter and proposes windfall profits taxes on eeeeevil oil companies. If Barack Obama were preaching smaller government, smaller taxes, and a coherent foreign policy, I would donate my next paycheck to his campaign and skip merrily to the polls in November to vote for him.
Would it really seem strange from that vantage point if the first black major-party nominee—a guy with a thin résumé, no foreign-policy credentials in an era scarred by terrorism, a background alien to much of Wonder Bread America, and the full name Barack Hussein Obama—lost? No, it would seem inevitable. That Obama has convinced us that the opposite outcome is even possible is testament to his many gifts. The next three months will show whether they include a talent that would serve him very well in the Oval Office: the ability to conduct a necessary, indeed vital, conversation that no one really wants to have. [Empahsis added]
"Wonder Bread America" For real? Did someone really write that phrase while lecturing others on their supposed racial intolerance? The cognitive dissonance makes my head hurt. We keep hearing about how Obama will lead us all in this "necessary, indeed vital, conversation that no one really wants to have." where in people like John Heilemann imagine all us crackers would confess our burning racist hatred and promise to vote Democratic to atone for our sins.
Obama may indeed lead us in a conversation about race, but the real topic might not be the ills of "Wonder Bread America." Instead, it might about how the racial paranoia of people like John Heilemann and Jeremiah Wright harms the noble cause of racial equality. Baselessly flinging the epithet "racist" is the equivalent of any other racist slur. It not only maligns an innocent party, but it weakens the meaning of the word and erodes our ability to identify true instances of racism.