My very first HuffPost a few months ago was entitled Well, Barack, We have a Problem. It was a wishful paean in search of the individual perhaps best suited to save our planet from global warming, while galavanizing world peace. In a Ray Bradbury Sound of Thunder reversal, I have come full-circle back to Barack Obama, but to a harsh real world on the verge of something worse than a recession.
Towards the end of CNN's post-presidential debate discussion on October 7, David Gergen declared it was too early to proclaim Barack Obama the victor of the 2008 presidential race simply because Obama was black. Polls are not totally believable, said Gergen, and Obama's blackness may cost him as much as six points. Gergen will be criticized, no doubt, for dealing this racial card, but he injected a very crucial point. This might well be the only factor left standing in the way of an Obama presidency.
Obama had his Reverend Wright, Khalid Al-Mansour and Tony Rezko. John McCain has been linked to the Keating Five, is on his second marriage and was operated on melanoma in 2000. Nothing much is left to uncover. Yes, there is the upcoming third debate, but no game-changing surprises are anticipated.
The numbers are such that Obama should win. Yet, as that venerable Yankee catcher Lawrence Peter Berra might have said, "It will never happen until it happens." A non-white person has never been elected president of the United States. Pundits like to point out the Bradley and Wilder Effects, when black candidates for governor lost even though polls showed them ahead at the end. Gergen knows all this, and when I observed him making that fatal statement, his facial and body language seemed to be that of a positively concerned observer who very carefully felt compelled to blurt out this almost verboten fact. In my mind he did Obama a great favor. He hammered home the first nail on McCain's campaign coffin.
By all common sense, the people of the Nation should mostly vote for Obama on November 4:
1. Obama is 47; McCain is 72. Because of his bout with cancer, there are reports available hinting that McCain had only a 65% chance of surviving into the year 2010.
2. Obama graduated #1 in his Harvard Law class; McCain was 894th out of 899 at the Naval Academy. If you were rating heart surgeons to operate on you, which medical equivalent would you choose?
3. Joseph Biden has a Juris Doctorate from Syracuse University; Sarah Palin meandered through five colleges over a six-year period, to finally graduate from the University of Idaho in journalism.
4. McCain supports President Bush in Iraq and the economy; Obama is for change.
5. Obama won the first two presidential debates over McCain.
The list can go on and on, but 66% of Americans are white and 13% black. All things being equal, people tend to vote their ethnicity. Hawaii has only minorities, but Filipinos vote for Filipino candidates and Japanese for Japanese. A person running for office actually gains when of mixed race, for a Chinese-Hawaiian will get most of the Chinese and Hawaiian votes.
This is where Barack Obama should have a huge advantage, for he is both black and white: his father is a PhD Kenyan, and his white mother was born in the heartlands of Kansas. Because she was busy saving the world in the Pacific and gaining her PhD at the University of Hawaii, Barack was in large part reared by her two white parents, and in Hawaii, where, again, there are only minorities. We are not a perfect society here, but equality trumps over prejudice in our mélange melting pot.
There is a simple solution (see box on right) for the Obama campaign. Neutralize the Bradley/Wilder effect from the decision-making equation. Just make sure that the American populace knows that Barack Obama is Gray, or, better yet, both black and white, tinged with a variety of other colors from his upbringing and experience.