OK, he's in the race. Let's talk for a second or two about Barack Hussein Obama -- specifically, about his extraordinary-seeming appeal to white Americans.
Why? How come? We haven't seen this level of political enthusiasm for a non-white guy since Colin Powell set hearts aflutter following the Gulf War. Why a guy who, though demonstrably smart, has spent less time in the national spotlight than Brad Pitt.
Allow me to suggest the existence of a submerged but clearly sizable demand on the part of white folks and others for an end to racial animosities. Would Obama -- who straddles the color line neatly -- manage to reconcile Americans of varying shades and colorations and races?
One doesn't see exactly how. On the other hand, a lot of people want him to try, just as they hoped then-Gen. Powell would try.
What they want -- rightly so -- is an end to racial bickering, or just a lessening of it. They perceive -- again, rightly -- the source of the bickering to be the civil rights lobby, inside and outside politics. To the civil rights lobby, whose most conspicuous members are the racial hustlers Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton, racism is everywhere -- and, man, it's white America's fault.
It wasn't enough that the United States turned itself inside out, and its cultural arrangements, over half a century's time to ensure the too-long-postponed accommodation of black Americans in all phases of American life. What would be enough? That's hard to say. The latest kick among the hustlers, not to mention their white liberal cheering squad, is apologies for slavery, not to mention economic reparations for the sufferings of people dead for centuries. Reparations? To whom? No doubt the Revs. Jackson and Sharpton would be glad to figure all this out.
That we can't get past just talking about race -- weighing ideas, policy proposals, even language in racial terms -- shows the virulence of the illness. That is the perception I think underlies Obamania: race, race, race; race 24-7; race for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Could we, puh-leeze, vary the topic?
The civil rights establishment gets a helping hand from the aforementioned white liberal cheering squad, which takes psychic pleasure in playing amid the relics of racism. Everyone who wants to understand the phenomenon should read the African-American scholar Shelby Steele's scathing take on it, "White Guilt" (HarperCollins, 2006), wherein Steele notes how race has replaced sex "as the primary focus of America's moral seriousness." At least such seriousness as our elites enforce.