In my informal surveys of John and Jane Q. Public-Sixpack over the years (and usually conducted near a six-pack), I’ve noticed an interesting phenomenon the more well-known and admired a black person is, the less black they become in the mind of the average honky mo-fo.
Denzel Washington, Halle Berry, Sidney Poitier, Bill Cosby, et al their skin color faded to neutral as their popularity with whites increased. Oprah Winfrey’s audience is comprised mainly of white women do they think of her as black? No, she’s just ‘Oprah,’ girlfriend. Caucasian-Americans have embraced Michael Jordan, William “The Refrigerator” Perry, and scores of black sports stars as one of their own without regard to skin shade what white sports nut wouldn’t rather hang out with Jordan than some mediocre ofay B-Ball player? And the Super Bowl a couple of years ago between the Chicago Bears and Indianapolis Colts was played by teams with black head coaches. No big whup.
In the music world, Ray Charles, Chuck Berry, James Brown, B.B. King, Otis Redding, Jimi Hendrix and others have all transcended race and now have more white fans than black. The pop music of every generation since the beginning of the 20th century, true American music blues, jazz, soul, rock, and even much of country all originated with black musicians in the South. Generations of white children have been conceived to the colorless ballads of Barry White, Lionel Ritchie and Isaac Hayes.
Let me put it this way, Barack Obama has been part of the national public consciousness for about two years now and he’s generally perceived by white America as an affable, intelligent, calm, non-threatening man, and he’s world famous, so his color has become immaterial.
Sure, there are still low-wattage bigots who are terrified of black people because they don’t know any, and swallow every hysterical email smear or outrageous talk radio slur that comes down the pike about Obama, but their numbers are small and dwindling and not enough to get McPalin elected.
Lenny Bruce had a joke about racism that went something like, a white guy can say he thinks color makes a difference, but who would he rather sleep with Kate Smith or Lena Horne? This election the question can be changed to who would Americans rather elect president a crabby old white Republican mired in the past or a virile and smart young black Democrat with plans for a better future.
We’ve moved on from the ‘Bradley Effect’ era of a quarter-century ago, and I don’t think race will be much of an issue in this election, at least not the issue the perpetually-behind-the-times Punditrocracy thinks it may be — if anything, it helps Obama by bringing out the disenfranchised and ignored minorities tired of voting for the same-old-same-old white morons for the highest office in the land.
It’s in the interest of the Big Media to make this election look close gives them something to chatter about and kicks up the ratings but Obama is facing a weak GOP ticket tied to the worst, most consistently unpopular president in our history in the midst of an economic meltdown caused by the Republican Party’s policies of deregulation, sumptuous tax cuts for the wealthy, and favoring corporations and privatization over public need and the nation’s future.
Look at the electoral vote numbers at FiveThirtyEight.com derived from the averaged state-by-state polls — 344 for Obama, 194 for McCain. Even if you cut Obama’s lead by 50 electoral votes and give them to McCain that’s roughly Ohio, Florida, and Nevada — Obama still hits 270 with room to spare, 294-244.
As the Punditrocracy has been reminding us ad nauseum, McCain does have a very narrow path to victory, so it’s no time to slack off or indulge in complacency this close to the finish line but, still, it would take a political miracle ten times the size of the Truman beats Dewey upset to put McPalin in the winner’s circle.