Thursday, August 28, 2008

King and Obama

Tonight is an historic night in American history. Win or lose Obama represents the hopes and dreams of many from backgrounds consisting of something other than majority. Some might say he's the epitome of the American Dream--a bi-racial man raised by his grandparents who rose through the ranks to compete for the most powerful office in the world. Not only a kid's dream, but a minority kid's dream.

So perhaps it's fitting Obama accepts the nomination on the anniversary of King's dream speech because he represents at least a partial realization of that dream. Part, but not all.

After the hankies are dry the reality of King's words will remain--that he desired every man be judged on the content of his character, not the color of his skin. Equal opportunity means an opportunity to join the game and compete fairly for the prize, not guaranteed success every time.

It's already been hashed to death but Barack's resume is pathetically thin in comparison to most other major presidential contenders of the past. His background associations are also not supportive of the crafted image of a bridge-builder as evidenced by the story of William Ayers, just now beginning to appear. And it appears to be an apple many don't want to see bobbing to the surface, if judged by the "doth protest too much" reaction.

Perusing a candidate's background is what the public might call their own "vetting" process, just as the candidates do when searching for running mates. Suggesting that race has anything to do with the Ayers question is absurd and dangerous. And suggesting likewise on the experience question is equally absurd. Imagine Colin Powell as the first black presidential nominee, then imagine some of his peers and the Democrats trying to assert that he didn't have the requisite experience. Put another way, questioning Obama's experience isn't a racial issue, it's a skill-set for president issue.

Obama was asked in 2004 whether he might consider running for president and he answered quite rationally at the time, saying he didn't want to do something before he was comfortable. Whether his mind was changed by Party bigwigs or by his own visions of grandeur isn't clear (perhaps Time will do an expose like they did with McCain) but the reality is we have a man on the verge of running the most powerful nation on earth with only marginal credentials, propped up mainly by flowery words, hate for the previous administration and by the fact he's not a white man. And that's just not enough.

Americans should be proud. We've come a long way. White Americans should not be afraid of a possible black president and should take some pause when reading the litany of oft-scandalous and unverified emails flowing into their in-boxes. If they are "too good to check" perhaps there's a reason.

But black Americans and white liberals should remember that getting in the race doesn't mean a guaranteed victory. This isn't an EEO issue nor a popularity contest, well, unless we're to believe King's dream was for men to be judged on mere symbolism, not substance.

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