August 25, 2008


Jackson Jr.: Obama "can't hit back" (Mike Allen and Jonathan Martin, 8/25/08, The Politico)

Rep. Jesse L. Jackson Jr. (D-Ill.) told convention-goers Monday that Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) is like baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson — enduring jeers without the ability to hit back.

"Barack Obama has the capacity to hit," Jackson said a breakfast panel just before the opening of the Democratic National Convention. "But he is in the situation where he can't hit back, which Jackie Robinson could not do."

Whether or not Jackie could have hit back, there was never any question that he could hit. He was a great ballplayer irrespective of his race. There is a legitimate question as to whether Senator Obama, an otherwise standard issue Northern liberal, has anything to offer other than his ethnicity. He's more Pumpsie Green than Jackie Robinson.

The Race Isn’t About Race (MATT BAI, 8/25/08, NY Times)

The theory that race is holding back Mr. Obama’s candidacy rests on a pretty simple premise. Adherents argue that the Democratic candidate ought to be effortlessly leading by double digits in the polls at this point — and that his failure to do so can only be explained by latent racism among older voters.

After all, this thinking goes, the Republican president suffers from abysmal approval ratings, and even half-witted voters should be able to see that Mr. Obama is a superior candidate to Mr. McCain, were their views not clouded by race.

These are flawed assumptions, however. While it’s entirely possible that Mr. Obama’s race is costing him some support, it’s also true that the electorate that voted in the last two presidential elections was almost symmetrically divided between the two parties. It would defy the laws of politics if, at this early stage of the campaign, moderate Republicans and conservative independents were to reject Mr. McCain (a candidate many of them preferred back in 2000) simply because they don’t like George W. Bush.

Second, Mr. Obama faces genuine obstacles that are more salient than skin color. By any historical measure, he has remarkably little governing experience and almost none in foreign policy. And he represents not only a racial milestone in American life, but also a stark generational shift. It’s hard to extricate these things from Obama’s blackness. (If older white voters recoiled at Mr. Obama when he exchanged a fist-bump with his wife, were they reacting to his youth or to his race?) There are legitimate reasons that some older white voters might reserve judgment on Mr. Obama without being closet racists.

Posted by Orrin Judd at August 25, 2008 3:08 PM
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