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Obama Jerks The White Man's Burden

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The longer this race goes on, the closer I get to believing that, should he become the nominee, Republicans will beat Barack Obama like a death metal band's bass drum.

They will have a lot of help--the media for starters--but as a black man, and one who has, despite a biracial background, openly allied himself with Afro-American culture, his candidacy picks at so many scabs on the American psyche that we'll soon look in the mirror to witness a topography of blood and puss--a vision downright poxy.

The Pennsylvania "bitter" media orgy is just the beginning.

Case in point: At Slate, Mickey Kaus (who is stupid) quoted Ann Coulter (don't even...) who dismissed Obama's depiction of his grandmother's racial attitudes. She did this based on her "deconstruction" of his autobiography. I, for one, am willing to believe that Obama knew his grandmother's attitudes on race better than Ann Coulter. Kaus, by his inclusion of her comments, obviously believes otherwise. After all, she's white.

Later in the same piece, Kaus (who gained no IQ points with the cognitive exercise of typing of subsequent paragraphs) accuses Obama of "condescension" in his race speech:

...he explained white anger over welfare and affirmative action as a displacement of the bitterness that comes when whites 'are anxious about their futures, and feel their dreams slipping away; in an era of stagnant wages and global competition ...'

Since this is pretty much boiler-plate social economics, Kaus' umbrage seems to spring more from the uhm... nature of the messenger as opposed to the content of the message.

Case in point: Obama was attacked as "out of touch" for saying some stupidly phrased and purportedly condescending things about white working class voters--phrasing for which he has since apologized. Per the New York Times, he said of working class white voters who have fallen through the cracks:

So it's not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren't like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations...


The "elitism" cry is a familiar attack against democratic candidates, but against Obama, it has more teeth. Against him, it strokes the taboo against black men criticizing white society and painting those that do as racially divisive. It invokes the classic "uppity negro" archetype -- a black man who doesn't know his place, who dares to do what he has no right to do: in this case pontificate on the pathologies of white men. If there's one thing that these white working class voters are supposed to have and hold onto, it's the fact that they're better than him. For him to judge them... it violently upends an entire nation's history. That's why the print and cable bloviators are all over it.

Case in point: Tavis Smiley quit his radio gig on the outrageously popular Tom Joyner Morning Show because of all the "hate" the largely black audience aimed his way after he criticized Obama for failing to appear at his State of Black Union confab. From the sounds of things, Smiley was accused of nothing less than race treachery. When criticism of a candidate is read as traitorous, we've crossed the line from advocacy to politically suicidal groupthink on the part of a fair number of black voters wherein everything is secondary to the spectacle of racial solidarity and the potentially empty symbolism of a black man gaining the Democratic presidential nomination. It's the mirror image of those white-ish Obama supporters more interested in proving their race-neutral progressive bona-fides than in picking a November winner (see Gary Kamiya's Salon piece "It's OK to vote for Obama because he's black").

It's a toxic cocktail. A large slice of the democratic electorate (black and white) with something to prove to itself--a veritable circle jerk of self-satisfaction and moral superiority. It's not that they want to engage in Obama's vaunted "conversation about race." It's because, for differing reasons, they don't want to; and they desperately pray that voting for Obama will obviate the need.

On the other hand, you have a media spasmodically (and largely unconsciously) dancing to the subtle tugs and pulls of marionette strings of a nation's racial history--and taking the news-consuming electorate along for the ride.

At this point, nothing introduces race into this campaign more than Barack Obama's face. Unless he pulls a Michael Jackson and erases it, race is on campaign menu to stay. When the subject becomes overt, we get solemn calls for a "national conversation" about it. Newsflash campers: This is America, and a national conversation about race is something that precious few--black or white--without a professional interest in it want to have. The subject is too ugly. It is too complex. And it is too painful.

It evokes a mirror-image that we don't want to see; and right now I'm thinking we'll vote for the right not to.