|Clever visual pun seen in Greenwich Village: Obama + “Eight is Enough” (get it?)|
In my [last post] I hinted at the Factor that Dare Not Speak its Name in the Obama/McCain race — namely, race. At the time, Obama had just come out of his convention with a modest bump that McCain quickly countered following his selection of Sarah Palin. Since then, Democratic partisans have started to acknowledge the possibility of what must have seemed to them utterly impossible: Obama could lose. A [blog post] on The Huffington Post by Adam McKay entitled, “We’re Gonna Frickin’ Lose This Thing” has generated close to 3000 comments. But McKay blames the press for not holding the Republican’s feet to the fire. The same press that, just a few months ago, was criticized for being too friendly to Obama. McKay’s rant against the press is unsophisticated and knee-jerk. Their bias is a bit more self-interested: they simply want to be in front of the wave. When the Iraq war was popular, they turned a blind eye to its trumped-up rationale. They only became critical of Bush and his war after his popularity was plummeting.
When Obama (or any Democrat for that matter) looked to be a shoo-in, the coverage was clearly soft on Obama and critical of the Republicans. But, with the race tight, their blatant support has softened… allegiances are shifting. [New polls] like the one published this week in the Washington Post showing that McCain enjoys an advantage with likely voters largely on the strength of a large lead among whites is bad news for Obama in any number of ways. It suggests that he has lost the working-class white vote to McCain, as he did to Hillary. And this morning on the Sunday news talk shows, pundits were talking about the fact that 30% of “undecided” voters were saying they might not vote for Obama because they “didn’t know enough about him”. That sounds better than saying they won’t vote for him because he’s black.
The Obama campaign has to address the issue of racism directly, though I can’t imagine how they do it without further alienating the people who are already disinclined to vote for him. Perhaps a major address by Obama, akin to Kennedy’s 1960 speech about his religion, that reassures whites by acknowledging racial fears while allaying them. A challenge to Americans to change their perceptions, as well as their politics.