Saturday, July 26, 2008

Obama: Politics of Racial Identity

I've been writing a lot about Barack Obama's "politics of racial identity." As I explained, I've approached the stage of my life where I can live dangerously and -- I believe -- speak the truth about race.

The other day a fellow leader in the Missioon NoBama Movement talked about the psychology of Obama's appeal, where he appeals to deep longing and nostalgia in the American people. Ronald Reagan did some similar things, although not at the level of sophistication used by Obama.

This is a campaign about character and charisma. In this campaign, NONE OF THE ISSUES TRULY MATTER.

If you want to read a brilliant analysis of what's really going on, read Shelby Steele's brilliant essay on Black moral leverage and white guilt as practiced by Jesse Jackson and Shelby Steele. I reprinted it recently on my:

I hope everyone will think back to a commercial from many years ago, the one inviting tourists to "come to Jamaica." Actually, the key line was to "come BACK to Jamaica." In the deepest part of our being all of us want to go back to a kinder, gentler (imaginary) time, usually our childhoods. The people who most admire Obama are invariably the most childlike.

A guy in the liberal New Republic analyzed the commercial and why it might have been the most brilliant ad of all time. The whole "come back" leitmotif touched the common chord in American that things used to be "better." The idea exploited was that American was a fallen angel, that we would perhaps never be as good as we once were (except, of course, unless we went to Jamaica). The commercial was full of happy white people and smiling Blacks.

The surface message was to go take a vacation in Jamaica. The New Republic writer said the underlying message was this: "Come back to Jamaica . . . where Black people are still nice!" In that time, like our own, some inconvenient truths rarely got articulated. But the New Republic author broke the code. He told us truths that we in fact knew at some level, but that we pretended we didn't comprehend.

In Shelby Steele's great essay, he notes that John McCain is obviously a man of "character" and "principle." He then adds, "Poor guy!" Of course, the character and principle work against him in politics, where an Obama can easily become all things to all people/voters, Black and white.

Mrs. Clinton and her campaign got chopped up by the Obama buzzsaw -- and the deep psychological messages. One hopes the same doesn't happen to John McCain.

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