Syndicated columnist Kathleen Parker (um, Pulitzer Prize-winning columnist) got a lot of feedback about her recent column ("Obama: Our First Female President") suggesting that Barack Obama is kind of girly. She carefully pointed out that she was "not calling Obama a girlie president. But . . . he may be suffering a rhetorical-testosterone deficit when it comes to dealing with crises."
So he's girly-sounding, I guess. Parker elaborated by suggesting that Obama "displays many tropes of femaleness. I say this in the nicest possible way."
According to Parker's update column, many readers--including many black readers--did not think her assessment was particularly nice. Some pointed to the long history of emasculating black males; others commented on the problems Obama would face as a black politician if he were too appear too "angry."
Parker stands by her argument, though, and part of her response stressed one of the advantages of being white:
But I also recognize that my life experience is different from that of most African-Americans. And that experience allows me both the luxury of seeing people without the lens of race, but also (sometimes) to fail to imagine how people of other backgrounds might interpret my words.
The failure to imagine how "people of other backgrounds" read your work is obvious enough. But the idea that being white means that you enjoy a unique ability to judge events "without the lens of race" is bizarre, unless you're trying to echo Stephen Colbert's long-running gag about white people who cannot possibly see race. As he explained once to Al Sharpton, Colbert was going to take Sharpton at his word when he said he was black, because Colbert was beyond race.
Well, Parker is apparently doing precisely that:
You'll have to take me at my word when I say that I don't view Obama exclusively as a black man--no matter what he said on his census form. Not only is he half-white, but also he has managed to transcend skin color, at least from where I sit.
Parker will soon co-host a show on CNN--not Comedy Central--by the way.