Tuesday, April 8, 2008

Race and the Election

Paul Krugman has been an outspoken critic of the Obama campaign. It turns out, his reason for thinking that Obama is a worse choice isn't exactly what his columns say, at least according to one account.
But now he says—on the record, and yet not so audibly—that there is one big, singular reason not to prefer Mr Obama as the Democratic nominee. He wishes it didn’t have to be said aloud. In fact, he almost avoids saying it. Turning from the historical discussion of the Southern strategy and its million effects, he finally comes round to the subject for which we’ve all been waiting. This year ought to be the Democrats’, by rights, what with the economy tanking, Bush hatred soaring and Iraq a persistent disaster. Which Democrat’s? Ahem. Squirm. “Let’s abstract from what I just said for a moment…[sigh, frustrated]”. “Okay…[regretful laughter] And there are other reasons …” (Namely, Mr Obama’s not partisan enough, and also his health-care plan stands to the right of Mrs Clinton’s and Mr Edwards’s.)

May we say it for him, rudely? He thinks that a black candidate will lose a national election. So it’s bad tactics to support Mr Obama. Surely we must understand.

I don't think this is racist. I wouldn't want the Democratic party to nominate a gay or a muslim for this election, but that doesn't make me homophobic or Islamophobic. Those are simply losing propositions politically. I wouldn't want the party to nominate an atheist to run for president, even though I am one.
Krugman's book Conscience of a Liberal argues effectively that race, not "values" nonsense. I think he is wrong about Obama's prospects though. Obama can engage on these issues more effectively than anyone else, and I truly believe he can carry the day.
(posted by Ewan)

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