I wrote in December of Senator Obama and the sense that he was an atypical black candidate for office in that he had thus far managed to prosper in his appeal to the wider electorate and had managed to rise above the issue of race. At the outset his opponents seemed to avoid the whole issue of race for fear that it would rebound upon them in a toxic way. But as his chances of being the first black candidate for President for one of the two big parties grew it was perhaps inevitable that the issue of race would come up. Thus the recordings of the pastor of the Church where Obama has worshipped for nigh on twenty years inveighing in deeply unpleasant terms against the USA had an air of inevitability about them.
The images of this priestly invective will be seen time and time again by the electorate and will be accessible for all to see at any time. No longer do we have to depend on a partial MSM putting their own spin on the material but we can see them for ourselves and make up our own mind what we think of them and what it tells us about the candidate. And one is also able, usually, to view at leisure the whole clip so that one can avoid the politician’s usual means of weaseling his way out of trouble by bleating ‘out of context’. Broadcasters inevitably edit their material to fit their schedules and thus one gets just the ‘soundbite’. Now if one has a mind to, you can often watch the whole interview and thus judge the context for yourself.
In that way the issue of race has been thrust with a rapier at the heart of Obama’s campaign. He has compounded it by this unpleasant remark about the ‘typical white person’ which is rightly being condemned for it is just the sort of stereotyping remark of which black people are so quick to complain when the boot is on the other foot.
He had once seemed the perfect ‘black’ candidate in that he had appeared to rise without having to carry with him the baggage of race. Thus he had appeal for the electorate as a whole, enabling him to come within striking distance of the candidacy in a way that the likes of Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton, both of whom were firmly of the demagogue persuasion, never managed. Now the relentless dissemination of images have opened the Pandora’s Tinderbox that is race in American politics which may see the unraveling of his candidacy. Certainly there is some evidence that white voters have seen a side of Mr. Obama for which they do not care in the least and may well be about to abandon him.
His chances apparently now lie in the hands of the so-called ‘super-delegates’ who can chop and change their support at will. If these perceive that he has managed through his association with this troublesome priest to alienate a swathe of white voters, then they may drop him like a hot potato. But that in itself may not stop this bare-knuckle fight from going on right up to the Democratic Convention, a circumstance in which the only real winner will be John McCain, their Republican opponent.
McCain now has the luxury of going about and being ‘presidential’ whilst his Democrat opponents chop lumps off one another. His trip to Europe to see the likes of Gordon Brown and David Cameron thus distances him from the unseemly fray in the Democratic camp. Seeing the latter is an astute move for him, since it has the double advantage of continuing a relationship which saw McCain speak to the Tory Conference in 2006 (which, if McCain wins this year, will be seen as a stroke of good fortune for the Tories) and of demonstrating that McCain is thinking further ahead than November’s election to a time when Cameron might be Prime Minister. Cameron is also a beneficiary, since it helps give him credibility by being taken seriously by the man who may be US President in January.
If Obama’s Priest and his casual jibe at white people deny him the candidacy, it will say much about the way in which information is now gathered and disseminated. Though the material may be originated by mainstream broadcaster, it is increasingly the case that the real motor of distribution and comment is the internet. This US election will surely see more examples of this and demonstrate the increasing role and power of the blogosphere.
Here is another sample of the Rev. Jeremiah Wright strutting his obnoxious stuff: