Sunday, September 28, 2008

Hilary Bok [aka "Hilzoy"] in The Washington Monthy, in June
...I don't think I really appreciated, on a visceral level, exactly how much this would mean to African-Americans until sometime around November. At that time, Obama was trailing Clinton by around 20 points among black voters, which I found odd, until I read some article -- I can't recall which -- with a number of interviews of black Democrats. Those interviews made it clear that most of the people quoted in the article did not believe that a black candidate -- any black candidate -- could win the nomination, let alone the Presidency. Once I had noticed that, I seemed to hear it a lot: just a few days ago, I was listening to CSPAN in the car, and a black voter called in and said that until Iowa, he had assumed that Obama was "some kind of stunt".

I suppose I live a sheltered life, but for some reason it hadn't crossed my mind that many African-Americans would think not just that it was very hard for a black man to win the nomination, but that it was impossible. But once it did, I found it horrible and heartbreaking, all the more so because, on reflection, I thought it was a perfectly reasonable thing to think. (At least in its milder form -- 'he can't win' -- as opposed to the more ominous 'they won't let him win.')
Linked by Duncan Black, who adds: "I know and have friends and acquaintances who are African-American"
I know and have friends and acquaintances who are African-American, but that's something very different from being plugged in to the African-American community in any meaningful sense. There isn't one monolithic AA community, of course, but it is something which in broad general terms exists. The couple of times I went to Obama-linked primary parties I had a chance to have a pretty sharp reminder that African-American supporters of Obama are often coming from a very different place than his other supporters.
You'd think by this point there would be a more general understanding among the self-proclaimed enlightened intellectual elite of the anger and fears of blacks and Jews, of women, of homosexuals and Palestinians. But of course by the time you get to that last group the answer's obvious. And of course the American political intelligentsia has little interest in psychology, especially their own. [As an aside I'l add that this from the bigot M.J Rosenberg, is just grotesque]
This subject came up talking with a few friends this weekend.

Josh Marshall initially thought the debate was a draw and wondered why Obama hadn't been more aggressive. The major newspapers with the exception of the NY Times also called it a draw. But the public says it's a clear win.

How would it have appeared to the block of narcissistic but all-important "undecided" white voters to see a young black man attack an old white man as aggressively as white liberals imagine they would if they were in his place? That's not to say Obama's reticence is conscious and strategic, only that it's how he's played the game; and it's important to understand he never had a choice.

Hilzoy: "I suppose I live a sheltered life,"
No shit.

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