When Will We Have Another Black President?

September 5th, 2010

By Dan Miller

During the 2008 political campaign, then-Senator Barack Obama called for a national discussion on race. Later, Attorney General Eric Holder called us a nation of cowards for not having such discussions:

He said that Americans are afraid to talk about race, adding that “certain subjects are off-limits and that to explore them risks at best embarrassment and at worst the questioning of one’s character.”

So let’s try to honor these doubtless well-intended requests.

It’s entirely possible that President Obama has poisoned the well for at least a generation. It has nothing to do with the fact that he is black; it is because he is grossly ill-fitted for the job and may well be the worst U.S. president thus far. To enumerate even his most egregious blunders would make for a very long article and I won’t bother. There are not enough good things to fill a short paragraph, aside from the possibility that he has united enough conservatives and frustrated enough leftists to make possible some changes we can believe in.

Some probably disagree, but I think President Obama’s race was the deciding factor in his election. Had he been Caucasian, Asian, or Hispanic, he probably would not have got the Democratic Party nomination, much less been elected president. President Hillary Clinton would likely be sitting behind the desk in the Oval Office.

Should race count? No, but it does, more now than before President Obama came on the scene. Race, gender, ethnicity, and religion have, of course, long been significant. John Morton Blum, whose introductory American history course I took in college fifty years ago, told a story about Theodore Roosevelt, “the Republican Roosevelt,” and repeated it in his book of that title:

The dinner, the story goes, celebrated Roosevelt’s appointment in 1906 of Oscar Straus as Secretary of Commerce and Labor. The President explained his choice. He had selected Straus without regard to race, color, creed or party. His concern had been only to find the best qualified man in the United States. This Jacob Schiff would confirm. Schiff, presiding at the celebration, good-naturedly senescent, wealthy, respectable, and, regrettably for Roosevelt, now quite deaf nodded, “Dot’s right, Mr. President,” he acknowledged. “You came to me and said, ‘Chake, who is der best Jew I an appoint Segretary of Commerce?’ William Loeb, Roosevelt’s secretary, persuaded the newspapermen to suppress the exchange.

Blum goes on to say, “Doubtless apocryphal, this story nevertheless contains the stuff of authenticity”; TR was acutely aware of the “importance of self-conscious groups in American society.” There have been many changes in American society since 1906.

I wonder whether a black conservative — LTC Allen West (U.S. Army, retired) for example — would have a chance as a presidential contender. He may be too black for some and too “Oreo” for others; if so, the poisoning of the well will be largely to blame and some of that blame must fall on President Obama. Colonel West is probably in the running and we may find out if he succeeds this year in his quest to enter the House of Representatives. He appears to have a good shot at that and might eventually be a pretty good president.

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4 Responses to “When Will We Have Another Black President?”

  1. Tom Carter |

    I’m not sure it says much for the chances of another African American presidential candidate if Obama ends up as a failed president. There will always be those who will vote for or against a candidate because of race, but I think most people make political judgments on more objective criteria. Obama is failing, at least at this point, because of his lack of executive experience, his lack of political skills, and his excessively liberal agenda. If another African American candidate comes along with the chops to be president, I think he could easily be elected.

    However, I don’t think Allen West is the one. He’s far too much a right-winger, and he doesn’t have the skills to be president, from what I’ve seen. A decade in Congress might make his positions more reasonable and give him the necessary skills, but I think it would take at least that long.

  2. Dan Miller |


    As noted in a comment I posted at Pajamas Media,

    I like Colonel West, a lot, and think he has a reasonably good chance eventually of becoming the POTUS. However, there is both good news and bad news. The bad news is that he actually says what he thinks. The good news is, well, that he actually says what he thinks.

    As a lieutenant colonel, he had at least some managerial experience. That’s good. At that relatively low rank, he had very little political experience and he needs some. If he is elected to the Congress this year, he had better be a quick study (and he seems to be). Otherwise, he will find the land mines and ambushes in the Congress no less dangerous than those in the combat zones where he served with distinction; just different and more subtle. If he falters even briefly, the chances are that he will be eaten alive and his remains thrown into the trash dump of history. That would be disgraceful, sad for the country, and I very much hope that it doesn’t happen. I don’t think it will but I’m keeping my fingers, toes and eyes crossed.

    I’d like to see him do well in the Congress for one term, maybe two, before seeking higher office. He will not waste his time (or ours) there and can even do some good. Then, and only then, will he be in a position to lead the nation as a President should.

    I think running for VP or POTUS in 2012 would be a strategic mistake. It would be similar to making a wet-behind-the-ears second lieutenant with a law degree from Harvard a division commander. Colonel West is not old, and 2016 or even 2020 would probably be better. As President Obama has shown very clearly, the chair at the desk in the oval office does not come with training wheels.

  3. Tom Carter |

    Dan, I don’t disagree with any of that, but his far-right political orientation will be an obstacle for many people if he doesn’t tone it down quite a bit. It would be a useful start if he could avoid endorsements from people like Sarah Palin (he’s already gotten it) because that kind of thing won’t get him elected on a national level, even though it might be helpful in a specific congressional district.

    Personally, I’d like to see the next president, preferably in 2012, be a moderate Democrat or a moderate Republican. Trying to govern from the far right would be just as big a problem as trying to govern from the far left, as Obama has tried to do. I’d also like to see some solid executive experience, if possible at higher levels in government and business, combined with good political sense.

  4. Angela |

    I find this statement by Mr. Holder ridiculous, in concern of the fact that since Mr. Obama has been elected, we have talked of almost nothing else but race. When one disagrees with policy, current events (eg; mosque on Ground Zero, Arizona, etc.) one is immediately called a racist. When one critiques Mr. Obama, one is called a racist. Race, race, race.. ad nauseum. Even though Mr. Obama promised a healing amongst the races, we have absolutely experienced it’s polar opposite. There is so much hypocrisy in this administration concerning race, racism, that it has even expressed the fact that racism can only be applied to non-white actors. Case in point, the current atrocity involving the DOJ’s resistance to applying judicial ramifications in the New Black Panthers voter intimidation case. The DOJ’s tactic of ignoring the evidence of intimidation and the initial disposition of the case, as well as testimony from C. Coates, is actually an evidentiary example of reverse-racist policies demonstrated by this administration. I am disgusted with this entire non-ethical, non-judicial, partisan application we are supposed to embrace as this adminstrations version of democracy.

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