Monday, October 09, 2006

If It Ain't Barack-en

A lot of buzz over here stateside about Barack Obama running for President. A few thoughts:

1) Senators never get elected, so it's a pointless discussion (only one in past hundred years was Kennedy, and I think his dad called in a few favors for that one). And why do they never get elected? Because they're not very good at running things. In my opinion, the number one criteria for a Presdient ought to be executive ability. We really blew it with our current incompetent. Forget policy (or leave it to the Congress, as seems proper to me). Our next President, first and foremost, must be good at running things. I just don't know how Obama rates on this point.

2) Not proud to say it, but how does a guy whose last name is one letter away from Osama and whose middle name is Hussein get elected in a post-9/11 invading Iraq America? Forget black-white issues--will this country be enlightened enough to elect a man with an Arabic name (even if he happens to be a Christian raised in Hawaii and a descendent of Jeff Davis)? I'd like to think so, but we are talking about the same electorate who was easily convinced that a winner of the silver star and three purple hearts was a coward while a draft-dodger who didn't even complete his service in the Texas Air National Guard was some kind of war hero. So I'm not optimistic.

3) Everyone gets very excited about the chance to have our first African-American president, but, racial labels aside, I don't think that distinction really counts until we elect the descendant of a slave. As Thomas Sowell, among others has pointed out, basing racism on the color of skin alone often overlooks a cultural bias against "American" blacks in favor of relatively recent Caribbean and African origin. So in a country where a black kid is six times more likely than a white kid to go to jail for the same crime (and with the same record), we ought to be very careful about what is real racial progress and what only appears to be racial progress. But of course, anyone who's not a white male would be a HUGE step forward and something I believe we should embrace. Although, as James Baldwin said, "I don't want someone not to like me because I'm black, and I don't want someone to like me because I'm black." In this regard, Obama, with his multicultural background, is uniquely well-positioned to address racial issues.

4) I do like very much that he is a man of letters. I believe political oratory in this country hits new and continuous lows, and applaud his raising the bar.

The Minuteman

No comments: