If blackness is the coin of the Democratic political realm these days, Hillary is richer by virtue of her husband's bona fides. Obama lags behind Hillary even among black women voters, which Democratic strategist Donna Brazile, who managed Al Gore's 2000 campaign, has explained as follows:
"The way it works is that African-Americans tend to support those they know, and Hillary Clinton, like Bill Clinton, are known commodities."
So exactly how does a black man take black women voters from the wife of the first black president? There was only one answer. The Goddess. She Who Needs No Last Name.
No one has bridged the racial divide as successfully as Oprah and few people have more street cred among women. Oprah's isn't just a race card. She's a deck of race and gender. She's a casino of transcendence. The pot o' gold 'neath Jesse Jackson's rainbow.
Together the double-O team hit Iowa, New Hampshire and South Carolina last weekend, attracting crowds totaling an estimated 66,500. Irony, never far from the political pulpit, politely averted her gaze from the donkey in the stadium:
The black woman, whose success is largely owing to her popularity among white women, stumped for the black man in hopes of drawing black women away from the white woman.
This race business is complicated.
No one, including Obama, doubts that his huge crowds were thanks more to Oprah's star power than to his, as he charmingly acknowledged. He got a rousing ovation when he asked an audience if they'd like to see Oprah as vice president, which was a question perhaps more prescient than merely affectionate.
The contest between a black man and white woman for the Democratic nomination is both historic and fascinating to watch. But while Obama and Clinton are the candidates, the race these days seems to be between Bill and Oprah.