TNR On "The Race Speech"

Michael Crowley wanted to hear more welfare/crime/affirmative action/black people bashing from Obama:

Instead he argued that "I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community." This is a complex and nuanced point--one which, taken from the context of Obama's larger assessment of race in America, won't satisfy people horrified by a preacher who blamed 9/11 on U.S. policies. Other headlines are likely to focus on Obama's overall call for racial reconciliation and a more perfect union. Obama said, quite rightly, that the recent flaps over Wright and Geraldine Ferraro "reflect the complexities of race in this country that we've never really worked through--a part of our union that we have yet to perfect." But the question is whether working class voters in Ohio and Pennsylvania and West Virginia and elsewhere believe, particularly in a stalled economy, that racially perfecting the union really ought to be a central goal of the next president. I would like to believe so. I'm not convinced they do.

This is the same logic which led Clinton, in 2004, to tell Kerry to throw gay people off the bus. Crowley is addressing the political implications here. But from my perspective, we deserve to know how sharp the rest of America really is. Have we gotten past Willie Horton and welfare? We deserve to know that.

There are people who bear the brunt of cynical welfare-bashing and to us, it looks neither smart, nor insightful. In fact, I'd argue that sort of calculating, inauthentic triangulation does absolutely nothing to close the racial chasm. We deserve to know what we are, to have a campaign fought on issues. We deserve politicians who are willing to risk something, not a bunch of sniveling cowards, huddled around a mass of spreadsheets and demographic data. At some point the question becomes, What are you willing to loose for? What is so essential to you that you won't toss it aside? It was beautiful to hear Obama cite the black community AND his white grandmother as two things he would never disown.