A feature story in this week's New York Times Magazine asks, "Is Obama the End of Black Politics?"
This in the wake of a full week of TV talking heads asking if presumptive Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama played the "race card" in his response to John McCain's Obama "celebrity" ads. And an opinion piece in the Wall Street Journal by black journalist Juan Williams saying "The Race Issue Isn't Going Away."
Williams is right. The race issue isn't going away. And the New York Times feature, which profiles new young black politicians around the nation -- like Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick, Newark, N.J., mayor Corey Booker, and Philadelphia mayor Michael Nutter -- sheds little light on the issue in what it says.
More revealing about the Times piece is what it doesn't say.
The Times reporter never found it relevant to note that every black politician he spoke to is a Democrat. Nor did he see a need to talk to a single black conservative.
It's not like black conservatives have nothing to say here. Hoover Institution scholar Shelby Steele wrote a book about Obama. Tom Sowell has regularly written about him, as have I.
But black conservatives are not considered relevant to these discussions because race is not an issue of ethnicity but an issue of politics. Black politics means liberal politics and hence black conservatives are not black.
When I do media and speak as a conservative, I can expect emails pouring in from blacks calling me a sellout, who cannot conceive that I actually believe what I say, and for whom there is little doubt that I am a paid Republican shill.
Almost a third of blacks surveyed in a recent Wall Street Journal poll responded that race is the most important or one of the most important considerations in their vote.
But practically speaking, it makes no difference. Despite black excitement and pride in the Obama candidacy, the black vote would go for whoever headed the Democratic ticket, white or black. In 2004 John Kerry got 88 percent of the black vote.
The dynamics that the Obama candidacy has interjected is new only in form, not in content.
In the past, the liberal at the top of the heap for whom blacks overwhelmingly voted was white. Now that liberal is black. That's new.
Barack Obama, as Shelby Steele has written, departs from the Jesse Jackson/Al Sharpton brand of politics in that he is far more sophisticated and subtle in how to play on white guilt and how to intimidate. That's new.
But the liberal content and agenda is not new, and this blacks continue to buy en masse.
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