“I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy. I mean, that’s a storybook, man.”
Well of course he is. But what is really being said is that Obama is not the N word.
As for his blackness, it has nothing to do with skin colour or race but more to do with how Democrat black politics has played out in the United States. No major black American candidate for the party's leadership has had such a broad base of public support.
On the surface, Obama's embryonic campaign has some qualities that Kennedy's had. He too has hesitated publicly before subjecting himself to the fray. He too attracts vast audiences, full of hope, because he promises the future not the past. He has an ease with the language that sets him apart. And, merely by joining the race, he is rewriting the odds.
The race echoes 1968 too. Then, as now, a failed war dominated an anguished national campaign. Then, as now, the war compelled candidates, not least Kennedy, to get off the fence and adapt to anti-war concerns. Back then, though, it was the Republicans who had the last laugh. The hopes of the Kennedy and Eugene McCarthy campaigns ended with the election of Richard Nixon.
To some it is disconcerting that he appeals to white voters, to women, to other ethnic minorities and yes to blacks.He appeals to the fictional self-identified American middle class and their myth of the American Dream. So did Robert Kennedy. The similarities are striking.
He truly is a black man running for President, as the cheering crowds in Kenya attested to. He is more African, than those who criticize him as an Uncle Tom.
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