Obama's Opportunity LostA piece in yesterday's New York Times underlines the role Democrats believe that race may be playing in their nomination campaign-whether they want to admit it or not:
For Mr. Obama, race presents two potential problems: Voters opposing him simply
because he is black, and Democrats who will not support him because they do not
think a black man can win a general election.
Democrats who believe race does not play a role within their own party are living in the Land of Dilusion. Many of them believe that this is only the case among older voters, and that boomers and younger voters surely have no questions or qualms about Barack Obama's race. Race should definately not be the issue for which we discard Barack Obama as a candidate, but it will be an issue for one reason or other in the minds of some voters. Whether it is that these voters do not think Obama can win a General Election due to race (and rest assured, when Obama loses in November this is what his supporters will claim anyway), or because some voters just refuse to vote for a black man, race plays a role to some degree with many Democratic voters. They won't say it publicly, they'll reflect it privately in the voting booth.
Some of Barack Obama's problems that his supporters are chalking up to the race issue are of his own (or his wife's) making however.
His remark at a private fundraiser in San Francisco about bitter
blue-collar workers “clinging” to guns and religion was the kind of assertion
that would be damaging to a candidate of any race. Inflammatory statements by
Mr. Obama’s former pastor, Jeremiah
A. Wright Jr., who is black, have been seized on by Republicans to present
Mr. Obama as unpatriotic. An advertisement released by Republicans in North
Carolina on Wednesday included that portrayal.
The statement by Mr. Obama’s wife, Michelle, that “for the first time
in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of my country,” has been invoked by
Republicans in an effort to portray Mr. Obama as culturally unlike the people he
is asking to vote for him, a historically potent line of attack.
The Jeremiah Wrong Affair and Obama's San Francisco comments-along with Michelle's big mouth-undercut Obama's opportunity to reach out to the Democrats' "chronic voters" who have been skeptical of him. These things merely reinforce the notion that at the very least he is not ready for prime time, and at most he is unfit in the eyes of these voters for the Oval Office. Obama backers can scream race all they want, but Obama was very close to winning over some voters who might not otherwise have considered him because they didn't think a black man could win-and he shot that effort all to Hell.