Cheat-Seeking Missles

Saturday, March 22, 2008

Obama's Race Speech And The Racial Divide

Let's see if I'm tracking this Wright right.

Obama goes to church for 20 years with a guy who says America got what it deserved on 9/11, forces drugs on blacks and should be damned by God.

Eyebrows go up and support for Mr. Change softens.

Obama gives a big speech, for once surrounded by flags he has shunned to date, sort of as if Rev. Wright had resigned as his policy chief on stage sets.

Pres. Clinton says, in light of all this, "I think it would be a great thing if we had an election year where you had two people who loved this country and were devoted to the interest of this country."

And for even raising the question that a guy who won't wear a flag, sometimes doesn't put his hand over his heart, and refuses to leave an unpatriotic church may be something less than the American patriotic ideal, Clinton gets called a McCarthyite by a retired general who serves on Obama's staff.

If it weren't the Dem party, I wouldn't think it could be true, but true it is -- as true as the story that Fox News anchor Brian Killmeade walked of the set, complaining of too much Obama-bashing. That's Fox, the whipping boy of the Left.

(As for that last point, Fox News has been on in the background for hours a day here at our in-laws home, and I am Wright-wrung; I don't care to see another clip of him, ever. I haven't seen what's on the other networks, but I told Incredible Wife last night that Fox is driving people back to Obama by overplaying this story.)

So it's a wild story, one that can get out of focus quickly. As a public service, C-SM provides this refocusing moment: The story is about how race relations might influence the 2008 election.

The story has provided a finely tuned measure of the depth of the racial divide that remains in America four decades after the Civil Rights movement's victory. Just look at these stats, courtesy of Rassmussen:
  • 84% of those polled said they had heard at least part of the speech. Whoa. Do you think race is an important topic in America? Do you doubt that Obama has generated high levels of interest in politics?
  • Of those, 51% ranked the speech good or excellent, 26% said it was fair, and 21% said it stunk.
  • Yes, there was the traditional party split in the results: 67% of the Dems who heard it liked it, along with 53% of the Independents and 31% of the Republicans.
  • And here's the kicker: Rassmussen found that 86% of the black voters thought it was good or excellent, but only 45% of the white voters. That's nearly two-to-one.

The black/white split is the biggest of all, saying that a racial divide still exists in America, and that a "patriotic" black is different from a "patriotic white." Just listen to the scathing condescention in Rev. Wright's voice -- and the boisterous affirmations from the congregation -- when he mentions Condeleeza Rice, Colin Powell or Clarence Thomas. Success in the white world is no success for Rev. Wright's audience; it is fighting the other man's fight, sleeping with the enemy.

If you revile Rice, Powell and Thomas for their success, then you must view Obama's success as a success of a different stripe: A success in beating the white man's world. And you are not electing Obama as a person of unity, but a person who will accentuate the difference and refuse to be the sort of bridge at least Rice and Powell have been, and Thomas should have been.

It's as if there were two primaries going on in the Democratic party -- one of whites choosing between two options in the politics of identity, and one of blacks, voting overwhelmingly for a man who resonates for them this message: We are not a part of you, white America, and we don't really want to be.

If you say that's not exactly patriotism, then you're condemned (poor, poor Bill!), and you shake your head, whether it happens to be dark-skinned or fair, and realize that you're a part of a party that's not yet ready for racial harmony.

And you might think, maybe the GOP, which isn't so much about identity politics, might be the better place for me.

hat-tip: memeorandum

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