More from Artur Davis, co-chairman of Obama's 2008 campaign and obviously a former strong supporter.
There has always been a measured slickness in how Barack Obama’s political operation has handled race, the third rail in politics. They have taken the guards off the rail and made an old obstacle an instrument of fashion. And they have done so with an instinct for the genuine and legitimate guilt surrounding race in American life. As political maneuver, it is a thing of grace in some ways.
At least until the thing turns shameless and expedient.
The transcendent moment of Obama’s triumph can’t be diminished. But one would have to be blinkered to deny that Obama’s race in 2008 likely empowered him much more than it weakened him — or to assume that Obama’s strategists and their acolytes in the press don’t recognize the power of recapturing race as both an offensive and a defensive weapon.
There are different kinds of progress. There is the inconvenient fact that Obama has governed while black unemployment and the level of child hunger in the black community have risen to the highest rates in the modern era, and while educational achievement among African Americans continues to bottom out at appalling levels. This record is one that the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said last summer would lead blacks to march outside the White House if it had a different occupant.
The Obama message, implicitly, is that the conditions on the ground, including in the black community, are small, grudging details when weighed against the epic fact that a black man occupies the Oval Office. It’s a point of view. But that argument is too charged, too at odds with Obama’s official de-emphasis on race, to be made out loud and in the light of day. Better to work through the hidden-hand approach, through surrogates who create plausible deniability and through commentators who can be disavowed. Interesting that the Sixties-era figure whom the Obama reelect campaign conjures up is neither a Kennedy nor a King but that great hidden-hand stone thrower, Richard Nixon.
What will the left say now? That a black man, a champion of the president, is now an Uncle Tom? A sell-out?
It gets tougher and tougher to blame any and all criticism of Obama on racism. But trust me; they'll keep on trying.
More and more, it becomes evident it's about all they've got.