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Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Bob Herbert on "Post-Racial" Politics and Forgetting the Base

Bob Herbert
 Bob Herbert has cut to the quick when it comes to these so-called "post-racial" politics.  The notion of a "post-racial" society was a media construction anyway.   Gwen Ifil's "analysis" contributed to this fantasy.  She may have been correct in reporting the perspectives of some of this new generation of politicians.  But the naivete in the face of  America's deep-seated white nationalism could make these post-racial notions no more than fantasies. I never heard Obama make such a claim but obviously some bought the media hype to their peril.  The most recent case of this peril was Adrian Fenty, the mayor of Washington, DC.  As Herbert points out, Fenty surrounded himself with a view towards administration without a consideration for politics, particularly black politics.  An  even more arrogant case, however, was that of Arthur Davis, the Congressman from Alabama.  He ran for Governor as a "blue dog" Democrat.  We are talking Alabama here.  Davis was running against Obama's agenda to appease white voters.  Black voters were so disgusted with his  "post-racial politics," they voted for his opponent.   Problems in the black community go beyond issues of competence and rationality.  There are hostile forces out there -- white nationalist forces -- which are at the core of politics in this country.  Appeasement is not the answer.  These politics are racial to which Herbert alludes.  While blacks are positive in this age of Obama, that promise is on shaky ground when the President cannot even discuss HIS race.    RGN

September 20, 2010

Neglecting the BaseBy BOB HERBERT

Maybe it was just a coincidence, but it was striking, nevertheless.

The mayor of Washington, Adrian Fenty, one of the so-called postracial black leaders, suffered a humiliating defeat in his bid for re-election last week when African-American voters deserted him in droves. The very same week President Obama, the most prominent of the so-called postracial types, was moving aggressively to shore up his support among black voters.

Mr. Obama, who usually goes out of his way to avoid overtly racial comments and appeals, made an impassioned plea during a fiery speech Saturday night at a black-tie event sponsored by the Congressional Black Caucus. “I need everybody here,” he said, “to go back to your neighborhoods, to go back your workplaces, to go to the churches and go to the barbershops and go to the beauty shops. And tell them we’ve got more work to do.”

It’s no secret that the president is in trouble politically, and that Democrats in Congress are fighting desperately to hold on to their majorities. But much less attention has been given to the level of disenchantment among black voters, who have been hammered disproportionately by the recession and largely taken for granted by the Democratic Party. That disenchantment is likely to translate into lower turnout among blacks this fall.

The idea that we had moved into some kind of postracial era was always a ridiculous notion. Attitudes have undoubtedly changed for the better over the past half-century, and young people as a whole are less hung up on race than their elders. But race is still a very big deal in the United States, which is precisely why black leaders like Mr. Fenty and Mr. Obama try so hard to behave as though they are governing in some sort of pristine civic environment in which the very idea of race has been erased.

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