Enough is enough.
I have tried mightily to get through the gray winter landscape (if not farther) without commenting on the political wankery surrounding the skin color of Barack Obama - for the love of God, Montressor, the election is nearly two years away! - but the smug mindlessness of Mickey Kaus is just a bridge too far. Kaus ignores the better judgment of friends in order to fill column inches in Slate with this thought-free drivel: the newcomer Obama obviously doesn't appeal to blacks because Hillary Clinton - a long-time ally of African Americans and a known quantity in the public mind for fifteen years outdid him (and the unmentioned John Edwards) in an ABC/WaPo poll. Setting aside Kaus' evident deductive weaknesses - drawing logical inferences is apparently not his strong suit - the pundit's astonishment that the black electorate wasn't immediately and inexorably drawn to Obama's bright shiny ethnicity like worker bees to nectar is self-indicting. What was that George Bush once said about the soft bigotry of low expectations? Kaus has got that by the truckload.
If only Mickey Kaus was the only pundit desperate to say stupid things about Barack Obama's epidermis! Alas, the field here is as crowded as that of presidential hopefuls. The most notable loudmouth on this matter remains professional curmudgeon Stanley Crouch, who hasn't been this bizarre on a racial matter since he practically labeled cross-dating African American women as race traitors. When it comes to Obama, however, the situation for Crouch is a wee bit different: why, Obama isn't even a member of the race at all. He apparently hasn't suffered enough, having endured only "some light versions of typical racial stereotypes," though Crouch doesn't stop there. If you follow the columnist's attempt at logic, Obama is disqualified from official black Americanness because his father was a black Kenyan - practically a native of Switzerland - while his mother had the misfortune of being "of white U.S. stock."
And that, ladies and gentleman, bars the doorway to genuineness. So much for quaint notions such as the content of one's character. On a related note, future immigrants hopeful of joining our little club need not apply.
There is some detectable irony in Crouch's racial standards being indistinguishable from those of Southern racists of the Jim Crow days - spiteful and irrational blood-fraction standards, eventually reduced to the infamous "one-drop rule". You might wonder if Crouch sees that for himself - but by this point, it's frankly hard to bring oneself to care what Crouch thinks.
There are reasons to be skeptical about an Obama candidacy, let alone an Obama presidency, valid reasons that are light years from the discussions pundits would have us engage in. We may never get to consider them, however, so long as uncritical bloviating and racial paranoia comprise what passes for public discourse.
It's distressingly clear from the matter of Barack Obama and the race obsession of his most vocal detractors that America does indeed have a race problem, and it can be reduced to this: Talking about race seems to make us stupid. You would think that the cure for that would be identical to what Nat Hentoff once prescribed for the treatment for hate speech - that is, more speech - but you'll have to forgive me if recent events have left me feeling that the cure is at least as bad these days as the disease.(Cross-posted.)