And that's a shame, because Barak Obama's cafe au lait skin has nothing to do with what I'm writing about.
What is largely forgotten in presidential election years is that one-third of the Senate, and all of the House of Representatives are also up for grabs. All the rhetoric in the world won't change the fact that an unfriendly Congress can tie the hands of any new President. In fact, it can darn well choke him/her.
My middle daughter, a.k.a. The Curly-Haired Monster, asked me, a few years ago, when she was about 21, if I had ever heard of a singer by the name of Bob Dylan. It seems she had just heard "The Times, They are A'Changing" on MTV.
Every generation thinks it reinvents the wheel, and usually thinks it does it better than before. I hear Obama trotting out all the Kennedy-isms, and I feel very old. ("Yes, dear", I told the CAM, "we smoked, and we inhaled".) I remember what happened to JFK when he tried to get any legislation through a Republican-dominated Congress. The only reason LBJ was able to rescue JFK's programs was because of the public mood after the assassination and--this was actually the more important reason--LBJ had over 25 years of wheeling and dealing on the Hill, and he was one sly SOB.
Obama's hands are completely empty. Oprah likes him. I probably would, too, if I met him. But he's barely been in national politics long enough to know how to find the right washroom.
Should Obama get the nomination, I predict the following:
- McCain will win the election because most Clinton Democrats will either stay home or vote for him. I cannot see many Clinton supporters transferring to Obama. Hillary could beat McCain, both on her own virtues and because I think she would get some swing votes from McCain, and certainly from Obama's people. It wouldn't be easy, but it could be done.
- Obama won primaries in the South because the total number of voters in many places were blacks. However, this may not be reflected in Congressional districts where there is a majority of white voters. I don't want to use the term "backlash", but if the poorer and more conservative Southern whites see any threat in an Obama Presidency, they will vote for the "lesser" of two evils: a Republican.
Let us assume that Obama does get into the White House but control of the House, and/or Senate is only very narrowly Democratic. It has to be remembered that while Bush is personally very unpopular these days, many Republican Senators and Congressmen aren't. Neocons and the Bible Belters can't abide the liberalism of Obama, and with the country not in the best economic situation, conservatives in Congress will take an awful lot of convincing to embark on radical, vague, changes.
And he has no power base. He hasn't been a Senator long enough to do much of anything, let alone create a cadre of supporters who can call in favors and swing votes. What the public sees on the Senate and House floor is the end product of many meetings in corridors and offices, clubs and other venues. Oprah Winfrey, in this regard, probably has more real clout than Obama does.
And now for the unmentionable "color" issue: should Obama get to the White House, and turn out to be a President like Jimmy Carter was, a nice man way over his depth, the advancement of blacks in the US will be harmed for another generation. I can only wish that Obama had chosen to wait another 8 years before running, when he'd been more seasoned and tested in the ways of power. As it is, I think he's going to be roasted.