early and often

Everyone Is Talking About Everyone Talking About Race


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With almost six weeks until the next primary, now seems as good a time as ever to have a nice, long, probing discussion about race. Might as well throw in gender too — we’ve got time. With the Geraldine Ferraro controversy having reached its uneasy conclusion, talk now turns to how exactly the candidates are using and responding to issues of race and gender, and the larger role of voter biases. Is Obama being too sensitive? Is his blackness actually the crux of his appeal? Or is it just the cherry on top of his three scoops of awesomeness? And when can we get back to talking about health-care mandates? Okay, nobody’s saying that last thing. But some people are already wondering when the pattern of racist-sexist accusations will peter out for good.

• Andrew Sullivan thinks the latest racial controversy is “corrosive of a multicultural polity” with no benefits. He goes on to say that part of Obama’s appeal is that he’s a black candidate who doesn’t use his race as a political tool. At the same time, Sullivan hopes Obama can refrain from feeling victimized every time somebody makes an insulting comment. [Atlantic]

• Meanwhile, Mickey Kaus uses one of Sullivan’s Atlantic pieces to illustrate how race really is important to Obama’s success. Sullivan had written that it was a potential re-branding tool, a soft-power message to the non-white world. Kaus also speculates on whether in fact it is Obama’s mixed heritage, and not solely his black background, that has propelled him forward. [Slate]

• And Joe Klein agrees with the Sullivan piece Kaus cites. It is appealing that Obama has a multicultural heritage, and that should benefit our image abroad. But Klein thinks it’s too much to say that it’s Obama’s main selling point, when he has so much else to offer. [Swampland/Time]

• A Wall Street Journal editorial posits that while it’s been justified at times, Obama too often responds to race-baiting comments with oversensitivity. He can’t claim to represent post-racial politics while using accusations of racism to deflect legitimate arguments, it says. [WSJ]

• Andrew Romano has a long discussion with the authors of an academic paper on unconscious race and gender bias in the election. They say that Clinton has a clearer path to combating biases against women than Obama does to counteracting prejudices against blacks. And whichever candidate makes it to the general election will face even stronger intolerances. [Stumper/Newsweek]

• Jim Geraghty writes that Democrats finally know what it’s like to be Republican — that is, constantly accused of either racism or sexism. Meanwhile, the frequency of such accusations is diminishing their effectiveness. Playing the “victim card” may be played out soon enough, he writes. [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Seth Grahame-Smith points out that race was the major theme in Obama’s soul-searching autobiography, and argues that it contributes to his being so beloved. [Huffington Post] —Dan Amira

For a complete guide to presidential candidates Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Everyone Is Talking About Everyone Talking About Race