Wednesday, April 23, 2008

It's now about race

Arrested for groping woman
on an airplane, man says he
changed his seizure medication.

How could I have possibly forgotten Ronald Reagan’s vast political experience as Governor of California before he successfully won the Presidency several years later? I was actually living in California during part of his Governorship. He certainly was a memorable Governor. I remember his profound observation when the question of saving the Redwoods came up: “If you’ve seen one Redwood tree, you’ve seen them all.” I remember he was also most unhelpful to the University of California (I think he believed it was just full of commies). He cut the budget and raised student fees. When they protested he sent National Guard troops to deal with them. As President of the Screen Actors Guild he was a “friendly witness” to the McCarthy hearings. When this resulted in massive blackballings (including Charlie Chaplin), and the Hollywood Ten going to jail, he refused to defend or help any of them. I remember saying he could never be elected Governor, just as later I said he could never be elected President. I guess standing by as your wife and her astrologer make the decisions counts as political experience. I also said der Gropenfuhrer could never be elected Governor either (at least he turned out pretty good). You see, I am always wrong.
Reagan was certainly a dynamic President. He directed our victorious troops to attack and defeat the tiny island of Grenada (for reasons that were never very clear). He made illegal bargains with Iran leading to the Iran-Contra scandal (for which he somehow escaped blame). He ordered the world’s leaders around like they were naughty children: “Mr. Gorbachov, tear down this wall!” He is believed to have single-handedly defeated the Soviet Union. I remember they woke him up once in a while to make a rousing speech. His so-called Reaganomics ran up the national debt faster than he could say “progress is our most important product.” Oh, he was a real winner. All the recent Brafia candidates for President kept repeating his name over and over like it was a magical mantra that would make them invincible. If his loyal followers could get their way his face would appear on all our money, every main street and airport in the U.S. would be named after him, and his face would grace Mount Rushmore, a fitting tribute to the man who refused action on AIDS, allowing it to become epidemic. What I remember most about dear Ronnie, however, was his appointment of lunatic James Watt as Secretary of the Interior, arguably the worst political appointment in the history of the world. I’m really glad he became a Republican before he did all these things. No democrat could possibly have been that bad.

It turns out that Clinton did not win Pennsylvania by double digits. Her winning margin, depending upon where you look, was either 9.2, 9.3, or 9.5. As this is a minor technicality it is really not very important. What is important, however, is that much of Clinton’s support is coming from white people, especially older white women and working whites without college and making less than 50 thousand a year. Now, as there is virtually no difference between Obama and Clinton when it comes to the major issues (at least there wasn't until she recently announced her crazed nuclear umbrella idea), why do you suppose elderly white women and working stiffs vote against Obama. He’s certainly not more of an elitist than Clinton and, in fact, much less of one. Clinton’s claim of having more experience isn’t very convincing as aside from being the wife of a President her real experience isn’t much greater than Obama’s. So it is pretty obvious that a very important element in this voting is race. It might not be the sole reason but it is clearly one important reason. As Clinton can’t realistically win the nomination fairly, she will resort to whatever means are available to her to destroy Obama, and the one obvious means is race. Thus in an important way the election is going to come down to whether or not the American voting public will elect an African-American as President. As Clinton can’t win no matter what she does the gender issue becomes irrelevant. The argument that only she can stand up to the Republican attack machine is basically a red herring. From now on it will be mostly about race. The racial attack ads are already coming out and will no doubt become worse and worse as this drawn out process continues. This is not surprising. There is no way an African-American could run for President without race becoming an issue. Not in the United States. So will the American public be able to overcome their centuries of bigotry and racism and elect a part black man to the highest office in the land? I sincerely hope so, but I wouldn’t stake my life on it. If it happens it will be a monumental achievement for American claims of equality for all and will send a signal to the entire world that we are serious about our professed values and beliefs. This will be true even if Obama turns out to be less than we might hope.

“Sure there are dishonest men in local government. But there are dishonest men in national government too.”
Richard M. Nixon

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