Jeff Emanuel

Barack Hussein Obama may be the media’s anointed “chosen one” in the 2008 race for the presidency (for now, at least). However, the “Leaders of Black America” appear to be tightly guarding their own lamp oil, and to be watching Obama with more than a bit of apprehension.

As he London Times recently reported, “Civil rights leaders who have dominated black politics for much of the past two decades have pointedly failed to embrace the 45-year-old Illinois senator who is considering a bid to become America’s first black president.”

The story quotes the Rev. Jesse Jackson as saying, “Our focus right now is not on who's running, because there are a number of allies running.”

Former Calypso singer Harry Belafonte, recently in the news for attacking President Bush and providing ringing endorsements of Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez, chimed in with the warning that America needs “to be careful about Obama,” because “we don’t know what he’s truly about.”

Other than lamenting the “media razzle-dazzle” and lack of “meat” regarding Obama’s views on important issues, the Rev. Al Sharpton has declined comment on Obama, citing a possible presidential run of his own (again).

The reason for the chilly reception? One self-proclaimed “independent” Democrat strategist ventured this guess: “They are basically jealous. They’ve been toiling in the trenches for decades, and along comes this son of a Kenyan farmer and suddenly he’s measuring the drapes in the Oval Office.”

Obama’s ability to garner media attention – and positive media attention at that – without having to appear at the side of Cindy Sheehan or Hugo Chavez, without having to publicly support the schizophrenic Duke rape case accuser in Durham, NC, without having to defend criminals by means of often-hollow claims of racism or police brutality, and without having to go to any other extreme lengths has doubtless grated on these men, none of whom shy from the spotlight.

While Obama has managed to maintain the appearance of being a centrist Democrat due in large part to his ability, for all intents and purposes, to “cherry-pick” those issues on which he will go on record with his opinion, a presidential campaign would seriously hinder that – especially, as one Democratic analyst was reported as saying, if there were a Sharpton candidacy to contend with in the primaries, since it would “put Obama on the spot by forcing him to address awkward civil rights issues such as police brutality and racial profiling that he tends to steer clear of.”

Jeff Emanuel

Jeff Emanuel, a Special Operations military veteran, is a Leadership fellow with the Center for International Trade and Security at the University of Georgia, where he also studies Classics. In addition, he is a contributing editor for conservative web log, and is a columnist for the Athens, GA Banner-Herald newspaper.

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