In Sunday's Los Angeles Times Op-Ed Section, John Judis, following the lead of other pundits, considers whether race played a factor in the 2008 Presidential election. As has been the case of every article of the genre that I have seen, Judis is primarily concerned with whether racial animus cost President-Elect Barack Obama white votes. He concludes that it did, but not enough to cost Obama the election.
Yet, to his credit, although only in passing, Judis notes that race actually may have worked in favor of Barack Obama in the Presidential election. He writes:
The polls asked whether race was "the single most important factor," "one of several important factors" or "a minor factor" in the voter's choice. Those who said it was the most important or one of several important factors -- 9% of overall voters -- backed Obama by 53% to 46%. That suggests Obama's race was a net plus for him. It brought blacks to the polls, and some whites as well who liked the idea of having an African American president of the United States.
Well, duhhh! Judis acknowledges what must be obvious to any objective observer who does not write about politics for a living. One need simply ask the following question: Does any one believe--all other factors being equal, including his intelligence, his good looks, his Harvard legal eduction, his editorship of the Harvard law review, his oratorical skills, his manifest talent at managing a political campaign and his service as Chicago community organizer, member of the Illinois State Assembly, and U.S. Senator--does any one believe that if Barack Obama's father had been a white Kenyan, that Obama would be President-Elect today?
Isn't it obvious that were it not for the color of his skin Barack Obama would not even have won the Democratic Party presidential nomination, and that the President-Elect would be Senator Hillary Clinton? (Sorry, Senator McCain, but I think she would have won handily.)
Barack Obama is our first affirmative-action President. Hundreds of thousands of persons, perhaps even millions, of every race, voted for him in the primaries and the general election because he is black. That is not a criticism of President-Elect Obama--it is simply a fact. It does not diminish his considerable gifts. He has the ability to be a great President, and I hope he becomes one. (My differences with him solely concern his liberal policies, not his abiity.) Just don't tell me that race was not a decisive factor in his election victory.