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Thursday
Jul 24th

Barack Obama: Whites great hope?

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Usually, I don't write columns about stories that appear in a single publication, but one that appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 10 really got my attention. The story about Barack Obama was headlined, "Whites' Great Hope? Barack Obama and the Dream of a Color-Blind America." Usually, I don't write columns about stories that appear in a single publication, but one that appeared on the front page of the Wall Street Journal on Nov. 10 really got my attention. The story about Barack Obama was headlined, "Whites' Great Hope? Barack Obama and the Dream of a Color-Blind America."

In the interest of full disclosure, let me state that I've said all along that I believe that among the Democratic candidates, former Sen. John Edwards of North Carolina has the best chance of winning the general election. I base that on the fact that no non-Southerner has been elected president on the Democratic ticket since John F. Kennedy in 1960.

That notwithstanding, it's fascinating how the voters respond to Obama's candidacy, especially Black public figures.

African-American voters are supporting Clinton, largely on the strength of her husband's eight years in the White House, over Obama by a margin of forty-six percent to thirty-seven percent, according to the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll.

Obama and Clinton have remarkably similar records. Each received an A on the latest NAACP Report Card - Obama had a 100 percent score and Clinton ninety-four. Each is a United States senator. And although some try to depict Obama, a former Illinois state legislator, as inexperienced, he has served more time in public office than Clinton.

Obama and Clinton are graduates of Ivy League law schools; Clinton is a product of Yale and Obama graduated from Harvard and was the first African-American editor of the prestigious Harvard Law Review.

There is little difference between them on major issues. And there is no question that Obama, the son a white mother and Kenyan father, celebrates his Black ancestry.

He told one TV interviewer, "I'm rooted in the African-American community, but I'm not limited to it."

Unlike civil rights stalwarts Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, many whites say that they can support Obama's candidacy.

"After decades of often bitter polarization and racial tension on issues ranging from the spread of civil rights to affirmative action, many whites say they are drawn to Sen. Obama precisely because they think his mixed-race background reflects America's increasingly diverse population and projects a more optimistic vision of the country's racial future," Jonathan Kaufman wrote in the Wall Street Journal.

Referring to Obama's candidacy, Kaufman wrote, "It is prompting significant numbers of white Americans to consider voting for him not despite his racial background, but because of it."

Of course considering voting for Obama is not the same as voting for him. Just as Blacks are favoring Clinton over Obama, white voters support Clinton in that same Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll by a forty-six percent to thirty-two percent margin.

I am more concerned about the lack of support for Obama among African-Americans, many of whom refused to endorse Jesse Jackson or Al Sharpton. Some said that the two civil rights leaders lacked experience and others said that they were divisive public figures.

Well, what's the excuse now? Billionaire Bob Johnson, Magic Johnson, Rep. John Lewis, Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee and Rep. Kendrick Meek, among others, are all in the Clinton camp. Johnson, the Black Entertainment Television founder, says that it's because she is the best candidate. Based on what?
Whether it's experience or voting records, Obama is at least equal to Clinton. And with everything else being equal, it's incredible that Black elected officials who openly or subtly ask to be elected, in part, to assure Black political power, are now lined up in the Clinton camp.

They can't ask for a more qualified candidate to carry the party
 

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