Listen to the broadcast of You Tell Me on KTBB AM 600 Friday, Feb. 15, 2008.
Barack Obama is well on his way to not only becoming the Democratic nominee for president, but, in my opinion, to becoming the President of the United States. Why I think he can beat John McCain is a topic for another session and believe me, we’ll get to that.
But right now, let’s go ahead and deal with one of the inescapable facts about an Obama presidential campaign.
We’ve never had an African-American in a serious bid for the presidency. The fact that a black man with a Muslim-sounding name has a very realistic chance of becoming the president is truly remarkable.
The good news is that we’ve reached the place in the evolution of American society that a black man can run for the presidency and have a clean shot at winning it. The bad news is that the candidate’s race is nonetheless still a topic for discussion. And discuss it we will. There’s no way around it.
Ed Rendell has started the bidding. Rendell is the former mayor of Philadelphia and a major player in the Clinton campaign. He said to the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
“You’ve got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate.,”
I don’t think Rendell’s motives in making this statement are pure nor is his timing coincidental. Given that the Clinton campaign is in serious trouble, I think he’s trying to scare white Democrats who are supporting Obama into believing that Obama will lose the White House for the Democrats because he is black. Thus the need to vote for the more electable Hillary Clinton.
Write this down so you will remember that I told you. If Obama is nominated he is going to come under fire that he has not yet seen in his political career. He is going to be scrutinized and criticized. The Republicans are going to pull out all the stops, calling into question his record (scant though it is), his liberal statements and his past and present associations.
And inevitably, someone is going to say Obama is unfairly attacked because he’s black.
If he’s elected, as he may well be, the Republicans are going to go hammer and tong against him to thwart his hard-left agenda.
When they do, expect to hear that the rough time that President Obama is receiving is because he is black.
It’s going to happen. And it’s too bad because to the extent that Obama’s race is a part of his candidacy or his eventual administration, the fact that his policies and beliefs are wrong will be frequently obscured by the fact that criticism of his wrong-headed policies will pass through the “you-don’t-like-him-because-he’s-black” filter.
Republicans are frequently painted by Democrats as being racist, particularly with respect to African-Americans. (The fact that a Republican president has had not one, but two black secretaries of state doesn’t seem to diminish this criticism.) So Republicans who dare criticize Obama start out on defense before they finish a single sentence.
I am a conservative Republican and I do not support Barack Obama. I wouldn’t support him if he were white. Tell me you’re going to raise my taxes, shove government-mandated health care down my throat and retreat precipitously from Iraq and you have lost my vote. It makes no difference what color you are.
I don’t believe what Barack Obama believes. But I am nonetheless proud of him. Except for his hard-left policy beliefs, he embodies much of what I think is great about America. He comes from a middle class background. He put a premium on education. He has worked hard. His story is living testament to the uniquely American idea that anything is possible with belief, preparation and hard work.
He may well become the 44th president. If that happens, it will be a ringing testimony to the fundamental goodness of America. Because it will prove that the society that once denied Rosa Parks a seat on the bus can evolve and grow into a society that elects her spiritual grandson to the highest office in the world. That we have gone from Bull Connor to the very real possibility of a President Barack Obama in a single generation, without the intervention of a conquering army, is what sets America apart from the rest of the world.
If Obama were campaigning on the rhetoric and convictions of Ronald Reagan, I’d walk through fire to vote for him. (Note to John McCain, I’d do the same for you.)
If Obama wins, I believe it will be because of weak opposition. If he loses, I believe it will be because once closely examined, his beliefs will be fully revealed as too far to the left of mainstream American thinking.
Either way, I don’t think it will have anything to do with his race, try as many will to make it so.
That’s my word. What’s yours?
YOU TELL ME!