Obama: Post-Racial, Post-Partisan, or Post-Sanity?

July 26th, 2010

By Dan Miller

Confession time: Back in April of 2008, during the presidential primary campaign, I wrote that the racial healing which Senator Obama seemed to promise and might portend would be good. At about the same time, I suggested that Senator Obama was saying some things other politicians weren’t saying but should. Some of the things he said seemed problematical, but like many others I thought I understood what he meant; I wanted to understand him and hoped that he might be a better president than Senator Clinton. It seemed as though his election might stunt the weeds of racism and partisan governance. However, soon those weeds were in full bloom. They are now producing their own fruit; the flavors have merely become more pungent.

There is no less racism now than pre-Obama, and there is no less partisanship; there may well be more of both.

I was wrong in thinking that these things might diminish, and while having voted against him provides a bit of comfort, it provides very little. That there is now even less sanity provides no solace whatever.

When it appeared very likely that Senator Obama would get the Democratic Party presidential nomination, Daniel Schorr said on NPR:

The nation may have a way to go yet to reach colorblindness. Exit poll data in South Carolina indicates that Senator Obama won 78 percent of the black vote, but only 24 percent of the white vote. But perhaps equally significant, Obama won 67 percent of voters in the 18-29 age group. The post-Selma generation, you might say.

On November 5, 2008, Shelby Steele wrote in the Los Angeles Times:

Obama’s special charisma — since his famous 2004 convention speech — always came much more from the racial idealism he embodied than from his political ideas. In fact, this was his only true political originality. …

Obama is what I have called a “bargainer” — a black who says to whites, “I will never presume that you are racist if you will not hold my race against me.” Whites become enthralled with bargainers out of gratitude for the presumption of innocence they offer. Bargainers relieve their anxiety about being white and, for this gift of trust, bargainers are often rewarded with a kind of halo.

Very soon, however, we saw a president who presumed racism on the part of whites and jumped to race-based conclusions without first getting the facts — remember his beer diplomacy? We now have an administration which views injustices against blacks as quite different from comparable injustices against whites and intends to file no future actions for voting rights violations against blacks. It attempts to cultivate actual and potential Hispanic voters by minimizing enforcement of federal immigration laws, while suing Arizona for trying to fill the void. It is presumed that enforcement (which has not yet begun) will be racially motivated and that it is proper to attack as racists those who view the situation differently. These claims began before President Obama or his attorney general had bothered to read the new Arizona immigration statutes. There has been a backlash, and there’s probably more to come.

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12 Responses to “Obama: Post-Racial, Post-Partisan, or Post-Sanity?”

  1. larry ennis |

    This president, more so than any in recent times, will use race as a real and tangible asset to govern/rule this country. He will also use it in the future as a campaign tool. I have little doubt that he and his adviser’s intended to do just that from the beginning.
    Unlike your some what uncertain questioning of his intent, I had no doubt about what to expect form this political Messiah from the Chicago machine.
    This mans only aim is to totally change the political system in this nation by encouraging class warfare and racism. Guess what? It’s working.

  2. Brianna |

    Those statistics you cite at the beginning of the article could as easily be because of politics as race; the younger generation is probably more colorblind, but they are also more liberal and it is no secret that Obama made huge efforts to reach the young.

    I admit I voted for Obama. Not for his skin color, though I was as glad as anyone in America when a black man had finally reached the highest office in the nation and we were finally able (we thought!) to put that damned era behind us.

    The reason I used to be much more tolerant of liberals and politically “neutral” was because I felt the same way you did

    “Some of the things he said seemed problematical, but like many others I thought I understood what he meant;”

    I didn’t agree with liberals about things like affirmative action, but I thought I knew what they were aiming for (freedom, justice, equality, etc.) and I agreed with that. Then I learned that not only did such things not work, but that many who implemented them didn’t even have the good intentions I had always assumed they had in mind. One of my profs said that when Obama was elected, he heard a black woman on TV say, “It’s OUR turn now,” and he said, “It’s nobody’s turn! Stop taking turns!” Not everybody has those intentions in mind with things like affirmative action… but some do, and the longer such initiatives do not work and make things worse, the less excuse those who believe in them have.

    I’ve told liberals several times that if they keep using racism like a club, eventually it will be the boy who cried wolf: nobody will listen to their claims anymore, and real reports of racism will go ignored. Well, now that whites are being called more racist than ever, right after we elected a black president, I believe that day has arrived. God knows that I’ve reached my breaking point on the issue; God help the poor moron who decides to bring up the race issue in my physical presence, because I can’t guarantee anymore that he won’t get an earful.

  3. Tom Carter |

    Like you, Dan, I didn’t vote for Obama. He so clearly lacked executive and management experience and any kind of professional experience that I was concerned he couldn’t do the job. Beyond that, I was also worried about his associations with Wright, Rezko, Ayers, and, we now know, Blagojevich. Once he was elected, though, I wanted him to be a successful president because that’s to the country’s benefit overall.

    All the right-wing blather about Obama being a socialist who wants to destroy American would be funny if there weren’t so many people who actually believe it. The truth is more nuanced and a little more complicated than they understand. Obama is failing because he’s not a leader or a manager, he’s weak (another way of saying he’s a nice guy in a tough job), and he’s surrounded mostly by a campaign staff instead of a governing staff. Put briefly, he doesn’t have a clue. Beyond that, his fractured, gang-that-couldn’t-shoot-straight Party hasn’t helped much, partly because Obama can’t lead them.

    Looks to me like we’re headed for a major Democratic defeat in November and possibly Obama’s defeat in 2012. The thing that worries me most is he might be replaced by the Lizard Lady now working over in Foggy Bottom.

  4. Brian |

    Tom, do you think a massive hypocrite like she is has a chance? How on earth she can go from something like “the rich aren’t paying their fair share” to throwing a $2M, 2-day shindig for 500 “friends” and not be seen for the “four legs good, two legs bad” to “four legs good, two legs better” opportunistic power-monger she is just escapes me.

  5. Tom Carter |

    Had it not been for the fact that Barack Obama is black, Hillary would be president today. She would have won the Democratic nomination, as she fully expected to, and she would have beaten McCain, I’m sure.

    When you look at the 2007/2008 presidential season, it’s clear that we had a pretty sorry bunch left standing at the end. The process has become so petty and demeaning that the people who could be great presidents (e.g., Colin Powell) choose not to participate or won’t compromise themselves enough to be competitive.

    Could that cold-blooded, opportunistic, elitist witch take the nomination away from Obama in 2012? The way things are going she might be able to, but she would severely damage the Democratic Party in the process (not that she would care), and the Republicans would probably win — assuming they nominate a serious candidate.

  6. Brian |

    I guess we’ll know late this year or early next year if she’s going to run again. She’ll have to resign soon if she’s going to.

  7. Dan Miller |

    Many words have lost all meaning to the degree that their use is just a type of cussing. Tea party supporters are brainless “racists,” President Obama is a “Kenyan” and/or a “Socialist” and/or a “Marxist” and/or a “Muslim;” the list could go on indefinitely. These words may at one time have had understandable meanings but they no longer do the context of what can only in jest be called political debate.

    President Obama is either a radical something or other or has been ensnared – through acquiescence, ignorance and/or inexperience — by those who are. He ran an adequately competent political campaign or others did it for him against a Republican candidate with little popular appeal and that’s the extent of his managerial experience. Even after more than eighteen months in office, so little is known of his background or how things actually work in his administration that I really have no idea whether he is a puppet or a puppeteer.

    The only bit of solace I can find is that he and/or his masters seem, for now, to be burning out and to have united a large segment of the country against whatever may be their agenda. Does President Obama even want a second term? Can the “Lizard Lady now working over in Foggy Bottom” get the Democratic Party nomination? Could she win the presidency in 2012? Can the conservatives find a candidate with enough popular appeal and clear presidential potential to beat either of them? Will the country have become so FUBAR by then that it won’t much matter? Maybe Mr. Breitbart will offer a $100,000 reward for anybody who comes up with the right answers to these questions; Octopus Paul probably has the best chance of doing so.

  8. Tom Carter |

    If I were a Republican, and one with influence, I would do everything possible to make sure that the Party’s candidate in 2012 is someone of real substance and proven ability. That means, for all practical purposes, a former highly successful governor, CEO, or general/admiral. He/she should also look and behave like a president — appearances count, too. The right Republican can win the presidency in 2012, probably without regard to who the Democratic nominee is.

    Palin is out. She’s too extreme and too obviously a lightweight (even if that’s only appearances, remember that appearances count). Right now, Romney looks good. Maybe Pawlenty, too (except for his name!). Huckabee, I don’t think so; he comes across as too folksy, and his goofball TV show hasn’t helped him (plus, his name). I’d love to see Colin Powell as the Republican nominee, but he won’t do it because of both age and, frankly, he has too much dignity. But whoever it is, the Republicans have an historic chance, and I’m not confident that they won’t blow it.

  9. Lisa |

    Colin Powell’s credibility was damaged when he publicly supported Obama, someone with no executive/leadership experience but just happened to be black.

    I agree with you, Tom , about Sarah Palin. Yes, she has executive experience as a mayor and governor but she comes across as a cheerleader. Her family situation is out of control and as a group there is no command presence. I also question her ability to win.

    I’ve always liked Mike Huckabee. Yes, he is folksy but that trait may be what the American people want at this point. He is a seasoned executive, has a great sense of humor and is very astute on the issues. I think he would win any debate with Obama.

    Newt Gingrich is another person who is considering a run for the presidency. He is a walking encyclopedia of knowledge and has the experience and personality to work both sides of the aisle. Obama would lose any debate with him.

    Both Huckabee and Gingrich have a tendency to be educators when they are discussing issues. They understand the ramifications of Obama’s policies and can articulate that to their audience.

    Other contenders will emerge. We will just have to wait and see.

  10. Tom Carter |

    Lisa, Powell was definitely hurt by his support for Obama and his WMD appearance at the UN. For reasons you know, I’m a strong supporter of Powell, and I can look past those problems, although I don’t know how many other people would. Academic, anyway; he’s not going to do it.

    I don’t think Gingrich has a chance. His closets are just too full of skeletons. I think he’s uncommonly intelligent for a politician and a man of substance, but just too much baggage.

    Huckabee and Gingrich could clean Obama’s clock in a debate, as could the others mentioned, especially since he will have all the problems of a first term behind him. I may tend to sell Huckabee short, but I think what I want most is a president who can stand above the rest and earn the respect of most of the people. I don’t know who to use as an example — maybe Roosevelt or Reagan, although Roosevelt in later years turned out to have more clay on his feet than people knew, and Reagan wasn’t fully appreciated until later.

  11. Dan Miller |

    If beggars were horses, I guess there would be lots more stables to muck out or however the old saying goes. Still, if I had my wish it would be for LTC Allen West, Retired, to win the Florida House seat for which he is campaigning pretty well, and to get enough notice and legislative experience to seek the Republican presidential nomination. He already has far more experience than did (and even now, it seems, does) President Obama, with none of the baggage. He presently gets little mention other than in the conservative blogsphere, but in view of the mood of the country as I perceive it that is not necessarily a substantial problem. Perhaps he could be a (pardon the pun) dark horse candidate; sometimes they win. Unless something unforeseen happens, I would vote for him in a flash.

  12. Brianna Aubin |

    I’ve heard good things of Allen West, but don’t know much about him other than that he is a staunch realist about the threat of Islam.

    From what I know of Huckabee, he is too religious to pick up the secular right and he is the sort of conservative who wants to use government to impose conservative morality the same way the Left wants to use it to impose tolerance, diversity and economic stagnation. Not a good choice if you want the tea party people on your side.

    I’ve actually heard good things about the Indiana governer, Mitch Daniels. He’s done good work getting Indiana above water, has DC experience, and understanding of the need to compromise on such issues in order to keep the secular and the religious tea partiers together.

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