Rather than relieving racial tensions, might an Obama candidacy instead intensify them?
Iowa Caucus results quickly shifted many Democrats' sense of Hillary's inevitability to one of Barack's providence. The smooth-talking senator's surprising historic victory gave fellow blacks and liberal whites a common hope that monumental change was just over the horizon. The happy union didn't last a week.
Explaining last week's celebrated upset, Newsday's Martin Evans told of Obama's:
"... populist message hat has tapped into the desire of voters here to end decades of infighting between Democrats and Republicans, and to banish traditions of racial politics that have divided white and black voters since Reconstruction."
This euphoric sense of unity appeared to be quite widespread. After all, the media went crazy last December when Oprah Winfrey called Obama "the one" who, as president, "can bring us all together." And now liberal talking heads and typing fingers were enraptured with what they believed this man -- one part John, one part Bobbie, and let's not forget a dash of Martin -- might represent and accomplish if elected. Indeed, the momentum appeared unstoppable as the contest quickly moved into New Hampshire this week with all odds-makers predicting an Obama rout and his candidacy all but assured.
But when his unprecedented coronation didn't materialize, familiar allegations of possible racial bias did. This was only the first of many primaries and the failure of the only black candidate to emerge victorious already has elicited cries of foul. Ironically, while liberal guilt has historically been both the enabler of minority entitlement and exonerator of its many abuses, the accused bigots in this case were Democrats.
Beware the Reverse Bradley-Effect Effect
Let's take a look at reactions to Tuesday's "startling" New Hampshire Primary results. Polls across the board predicting an Obama landslide had both the margin and the victor completely wrong. Why? Exit poll numbers point to a combination of factors, including women turning out in droves to shore up the beaten-upon and visibly wounded candidate sharing their chromosome structure (Hillary took 47% of the women's vote) and significantly more independents supporting McCain than anyone anticipated.
But many of the enraptured are suggesting that racist white voters simply lied to pollsters about backing a black man (the so-called Bradley-Effect). To that I say it's just as likely that if any of those polled did in fact misrepresent their Obama loyalty; they did so in a preposterously sophomoric effort to appear overtly not racist, but then voted the issues when alone in the booth (a reverse Bradley-Effect?) Furthermore, the sheer folly of such inane talk extends well beyond its whiny and insulting connotations. Tossing these ideas to today's liberal pundits and bloggers for endlessly insipid analysis is bound to have an impact upon the actions of future primary voters. Noam Scheiber at the New Republic calls this phenomenon the Bradley-Effect Effect, and it goes something like this:
Blacks, previously empowered by Obama's Iowa performance, might suddenly lose faith in their dream and vote instead for an acceptable but electable (read that white) candidate. Meanwhile, whites, resenting mainstream media racism accusations, may rebel by voting against an otherwise desirable black candidate simply on principal. Make sense?
On the other hand, Scheiber asks:
"Is it so crazy to think working class voters will react to the racism charge by going out of their way to prove it false?"
This potential Reverse Bradley-Effect Effect in which whites vote Obama specifically because he is black is born of the same misplaced white-liberal guilt which may have compelled many Democrats to reflexively tell pollsters they were voting for the black candidate in the first place -- performing a flawless Reverse Bradley with a half-twist of the truth.
Might the Clinton Chickens Come Home to Roost?
On last Tuesday's The Situation Room on CNN, Al Gore's former campaign advisor Donna Brazile jumped all over Bill Clinton's allegations that the media pampered Obama by refusing to ask tough questions on Iraq:
"It sounds like sour grapes coming from the former Commander-in-Chief, someone that many Democrats hold in high esteem. For him to go after Obama using "fairy tale," calling him a "kid," as he did last week, it's an insult. And I tell you, as an African-American, I find his words and his tone to be very depressing."
Unusual as my defense of the former President may be -- in describing the youngest in the Democrats' field, the term "kid" would certainly seem an appropriate if not affectionate pronoun. And "fairy tale" -- what better phrase to describe Obama's meteoric rise? Might Brazile be reading her own conviction that Obama's tale is, indeed, one of racial preference only, into Clinton's words?
But perhaps most telling is that this is none other than Bill Clinton, whom revered black author Toni Morrison once referred to as the "first black president." While I can't quite hear the overt tones Brazile complains of, should the Clintons nonetheless lose their third White House bid even partially as victims of white liberal guilt, their frustrations would be well-founded, albeit perhaps well deserved.
I believe a tale of Bill's first year in White House residence is in order.
It was 1993 -- the worst of the crack epidemic was over, and the reign of NY City's arguably worst mayor of that century would soon follow. Owing largely to David Dinkins' policies of police restraint and neighborhood detachment, north Brooklyn residents endured 474 murders, 594 forcible rapes, 8390 aggravated assaults and nearly 17,000 robberies that year. Amazingly, these statistics represented a slight improvement over 1990, Dinkins' first year, when a shocking 2,262 New York City citizens were victims of homicide.
Residents of Bedford-Stuyvesant were prisoners in their own homes, their streets a hopeless war-zone of drugs and gunfire. Drug dealers owned the sidewalks and routinely turned rooftops into shooting ranges. Project hallways were dark vestibules of despair where a rapist's knife or a bandit's bullet seemed as likely a greeting as a neighbor's smile. Predominantly single-mom-headed households urged their young each day toward the solace and relative safety of public school, praying for a means of ultimate escape.
And, while performance of the city's schools was in dreadful freefall -- fewer than half the students were reading at grade level -- Dinkins' response was to adopt his "Rainbow Curriculum" to promote multiculturalism and instill tolerance of homosexuality in first-graders.
Meanwhile, the City's central cultural borough, Manhattan, had become a toilet. Neither Central Park nor Times Square were particularly hospitable to human life. The stink of urine permeated the corridors of Penn Station and you couldn't buy a slice of pizza there without being surrounded by hordes of physically aggressive beggars. Driving in by car offered small solace, as thugs with squeegees slowed or stopped traffic to intimidate payment from hapless motorists following a windshield streaking, dirty water "cleaning."
Add Dinkins' decision to raise hotel taxes to the highest level of any major world metropolis in order to support the city's bloating welfare rolls - which grew by one-third to one in seven people during his tenure - and it's small wonder that tourism and theater attendance all but shut down.
The city was a scary mess. Think Blade Runner without the cool gadgets.
Into this nightmare rolled Bill Clinton one October night to speak at a Dinkins fund-raising dinner. The freshman President told the packed room that the mayor deserved re-election "on his record," but was facing an uphill battle (against law-and-order candidate Rudy Giuliani) because:
"...too many of us are still too unwilling to vote for people who are different than we are."
You play with racial swords; sooner or later someone's bound to get cut.
Is America Ready for a Failed Black Presidential Candidate?
As the Dinkins saga clearly illustrates, while public office is no place for racial discrimination, neither is it a venue for affirmative action. Thankfully, having struggled through four years of failed liberal governance, even the most liberal city in the country wasn't about to be shamed into four more by racial huckstering.
Giuliani defeated New York's first black mayor by 53,367 votes, 49.3% to 46.4%. By all measures, Rudy delivered on his promise to clean-up the city. Total crime citywide was down 64%, and murder dropped an astounding 67% (over 50% his very first year). Even the embattled streets of northern Brooklyn were given back to the people with murder down 73% and robbery over 70%.
After securing the public safety, he proceeded to revitalize the city, putting welfare recipients to work and fixing the broken schools. Employing tax breaks and other clever incentives, he reawakened the city's cultural and tourism centers, returning the Big Apple to - no actually exceeding -- its glory days of yesteryear.
The list goes on, and one can only imagine the city's condition had people blindly heeded the race-baiting words of Bill Clinton merely to satisfy their liberal leanings.
And yet, while Rudy reduced the homicides of their young males by 75 percent, most black New Yorkers polled simply despised him. Still do -- and thereby hangs my concern.
There lies untold danger in a citizenry that stoops to purely race-inspired voting. What's more, the divisions such behavior invariably sustains will themselves invariably breed suspicion. Will each Obama loss demand magnified investigation and explanation? Are Americans eternally to be assumed racists until proven otherwise?
What's more, should Obama prevail in the primaries, just what might we expect were he to lose the general election, particularly in a squeaker?
Creeping Liberalism has created a world wherein many believe that the only possible explanation for me not liking my black neighbor is surely the color of his skin, regardless of his measure as a man.
Given the spontaneous distrust already in evidence, might the true Obama believers and racial ambulance chasers witness his defeat any more rationally?
Considering the year-long cries of racial disenfranchisement we heard when even a minority-favored white candidate lost in the past two outings, it's better he loses to Hillary.
Perhaps the bad-blood his defeat would generate might even chip away at that black monolithic block the Democrats have so come to depend on.
Marc Sheppard is a frequent contributor to American Thinker and welcomes your feedback.