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Weekend Jibber Jabber about the Presidential Race

What's crackin', friends?

It's Saturday night, and while most of you are out there partying like it's 2009, I'm lounging, trying to write a little and wondering if I acquitted myself well in a segment I taped for CNN to air this evening.

They called me yesterday and said Campbell Brown was doing a special tonight on what role race (as in that mishmash of skin color and ethnicity) might play in the upcoming election.

For some reason they wanted me to talk about an old blog post I did in which I challenged my peers in the media - when discussing Barack Obama's ethnic and cultural background and upbringing - to give equal play to his black and white halves. Some of you vehemently disagreed with me back then, in some cases suggesting I was disrespecting Obama by not just calling him black and leaving it at that.

But as I said back when I wrote that post, I know Obama chooses to call himself black - partly 'cause he knows that's how people identify him when they see him. And that's fine, considering how visual a society America is. I would never tell him what to call himself. I call myself pretty, and I defy any one of you who's seen me to tell me I'm not.

But these are two separate issues, skin color and ethnicity. And when we talk about those elements of his background, I still say it's a disservice to his white relatives, like the grandparents who raised him, to largely leave that part of Obama's ethnicity out of the discussion. Unless they're doing some weepy profile - the kind they do on ALL the candidates on both sides of the political spectrum - you never hear pundits talk about Obama having a white half.

And at a time when up to six percent of Americans - according to an AP poll - say they won't vote for Obama because he is black, isn't it the duty of the media to report that he also has a white half?

Anyway, like I told CNN's Jason Carroll in our segment when we taped yesterday afternoon, none of that should matter now.

When voters enter the polling booth in November to decide between McCain and Obama, the only color that should matter is green, as in how much is hemorrhaging from our bank accounts.

I say "should," 'cause you never know what motivates people when no one is watching. There are people who claim to vigorously support John McCain too, people who when in the polling booth will not vote for him because they'll hold his age against him...or maybe his race. Hmmm?

Anyway, while I'm not naive, and I know race unfortunately still matters to some folks, it's also the job of the media to not over-hype it and blow it out of proportion. There are enough strident folks on either side of the political spectrum to do that without us jumping into the fray.

Exhibit A: The white woman at John McCain's Wisconsin rally a couple days ago who said she couldn't trust Obama 'cause "he's an Arab." Do I really need to explain this one?

Exhibit B: Black Florida Congressman Alcee Hastings, who, a few weeks ago, said this about Sarah Palin: "If Sarah Palin isn’t enough of a reason for you to get over whatever your problem is with Barack Obama, then you damn well had better pay attention...Anybody toting guns and stripping moose don’t care too much about what they do with Jews and blacks. So, you just think this through."

OK, with all due respect to the Congressman's title and station, that was just stupid.

Whatever you think of Sarah Palin, her brand of politics, her relationship with naturally tanned people, etc., her "toting guns and stripping moose" doesn't make her a threat to Jews and blacks. Sarah Palin toting guns and stripping moose makes her a threat to moose.

Let's not deny that there are roles for race - both negative and positive - in American politics. But let's not add to those issues unnecessarily.

Alright, I'm signing off. I believe my 2.5 seconds is about to air.

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The Sarcasticynic

Black, White, or the degree between, why can't we just elect the better candidate??

Kurt P

With all this adoration of menolin, I'm wondering if a black Republican would get half the adoration as Himself?
We all know how the media treated Condi Rice, how do you think J.C. Watts or Michael Steel would go over if they were running? It's not race, it's ideology.

ceo

The economy is decelerating so fast that this is an election that is similar to 1932. Whoever takes office will need a first 100 days of magic. Skip the Inaugural Balls, it's time to work. We need creative, intelligence, fearlessness, energy, and a tireless devotion to the entire country and its well being. All people of good will, please apply to help. Please check race and other useless data at the door. Thank you.

I am the CEO and I approved this message.

BobG

"Why am I going to hate someone based solely on the color of their skin when if I get to know them I can find 1,000 other reasons to think they're an asshole?"
-George Carlin

Wavemancali

I find it pretty sad when people's priorities are so out of whack that they start paying attention to politics only when it starts affecting how well they'll be able finance their retirement.

I know that this does not apply to you in particular James, you've been quite clear on what has been important in the current administration and the incoming contender.

But I still say the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are more important. That people can't link the war to the current economy to me is like seeing a body with a bullet in its head and asking someone how he died.

For what was spent on the wars to date we could have purchased health care for every man woman and child in America and repaved every single road, not to mention saved the lives of thousands of Americans and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi and Afghans.

The war should be the number one priority on everyone's mind; you are paying much more to finance it than you are to bail out the banks.

James B.

Sarc, that's the $64K question. But sorry, I don't have an answer to it, other than it goes against the best and worst that has been ingrained in our society to ignore such "factors" and just go for the best.

As you'll recall, I wrote that first post months ago. And it had a specific purpose then. That a news organization wanted to bring that topic back up and discuss it with me again could be a bad thing. Or it could be an understandably curious response to some of the edgy crowd responses to Obama's ethnicity (I didn't say his color) at recent McCain/Palin campaign events.

You've been reading me long enough to know that I think race shouldn't matter. But it's in our blood, sadly, to obsess over the simplest differences rather than attend to the big ones.

Kurt P, don't get mad at me. I'm the messenger. I agree with you that the differences that count between these candidates are ideological. So that's a reminder that maybe you should be directing to those folks out there who seem to have forgotten the issues (war, economy, etc.) or at least made those issues secondary to petty sniping over what one candidate looks like.

And sorry, but I believe the logic behind your qeustion is flawed. You're asking if Watts or Steele would get as much love as Obama if they were in his position. And it's clear you're asking 'cause those two are Republicans. But you've answered your own question already. If, as you correctly suggested, that the important difference in this election is ideology, not race, then yes, I'm certain that Watts and Steele would receive as much "adoration" as Obama...IF they managed to land their party's presidential nominantion. Don't kid yourself. Look at how unpopular John McCain was at the beginning of this race with some traditional Republicans. Many of those doubters have since rallied behind McCain. Why? He's their party's nominee. So, yeah, it's no stretch to believe that Steele or Watts would draw the same support from some party loyalists. But I guess we won't know that unless/until a black guy wins the GOP presidential nomination.

Monty, I couldn't have said it better.

WavemanCali, that's a very good take on the matter. Good stuff.

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