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Monday, January 14, 2008

Race: Never an easy subject to calculate politically

As someone who rejects both overt bigotry and the more subtle forms including affirmative action, I think it would be truly nice if one's race was irrelevant to an election. However, since race is obviously still a vibrant issue in American culture, I guess we shouldn't be surprised that it has surfaced in the presidential election. But I wish it hadn't.

Obama supporters: be very careful. I understand you were upset by the tone and the use of some words by the Clintons referring to your candidate. Specifically the "fairy tale" description. I really do. But trust me -- you're not going to beat them at this game. In fact, your're falling into a trap.

Race has been deliberately injected into this campaign by the Clintons and it will indeed only help the Clintons. African-Americans, who otherwise might want to support Obama for reasons other than the color of his skin, are reminded of Bill Clinton's strong history of reaching out to the black community. And once again all the status-quo leaders of an important block of the Democratic party are thrust into the forefront and will be on their side (i.e. Bob Johnson, founder of BET). Simultaneously, in a way only the politically brilliant Clinton machine can achieve, a subtle message is sent to blue collar white Democrats who may always feel uneasy about race due to collective guilt for past injustices. And this too will push otherwise potential Obama voters into making the safe and easy choice of sticking with Clinton so that we don't resurrect any old wounds.

I don't know if I'm hitting on something big here or not. Probably not. But yet again -- here's another issue where I can't stand the Clintons but I sure do respect their ability to win. Here's hoping Obama steers clear of the trap and sticks to what he does best. If he stays true to his campaign thus far, he can still win in South Carolina. And that's what really matters now.

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