Sunday, March 18, 2007

Obama's AA Problem (Or Not)

AA, as in "African American."

Amidst all the St Patrick's festivities last night, my mom's neighbor noted my bright green O'Bama t-shirt and informed me, "He won't win, the blacks don't like him." I just smiled back.

I've heard this conventional wisdom repeated a lot lately by various TV news pundits and columnists. Anxious to jump on the "he's too good to be true" skeptic wagon, they pick at this aspect of the election like a nine year old picking at a scabbed elbow. What they really mean is that the self-proclaimed spokesman for black people, Al Sharpton, doesn't like Obama. I can't for the life of me imagine why that would be a problem... does anyone like Al Sharpton?

The fact is, Obama hasn't made a career out of playing the race card (like Al Sharpton) and therefore hasn't established his creds with the black leadership (a.k.a. Al Sharpton). Oh, how the mainstream media frets about this little factoid! He must pay homage to the great Al Sharpton, they say, so Sharpton will anoint him the Official Candidate of Black People Everywhere. Otherwise the black vote will go to Hillary.

In a move that I consider ballsy, brilliant, and probably highly effective, Barack Obama just answered them all with a great big FU.

Skipping the middleman (i.e. Al Sharpton), Obama has decided to state his case directly to black American voters. While other candidates are quietly focused on raising money, yesterday Obama did one of the rarest election moves ever -- he stopped in to say hi to Oakland, California, drawing a crowd of more than 10,000 enthusiastic listeners. That's right -- 10,000 enthusiastic, sign waving, cheering voters. In March of 2007! The presidential election is still 20 months away. That's unheard of! With just two days notice, 500 people showed up to volunteer for the event. If that doesn't send a shiver down Hillary's spine, I don't know what will.

Mark my words -- Obama will be successful with blacks exactly because he doesn't treat them with condescending sympathy. He'll address them in the same manner he addresses everyone else and they'll respond to it, just like everyone else.

That gasp you hear is Al Sharpton indignantly realizing that his days of influence are coming to an end.

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