Tuesday, January 22, 2008

Will The Real Black President Please Stand Up

When Toni Morrison said that Bill Clinton -- who appeared to have some trouble staying awake during a stirring address on Martin Luther King Day -- was the first black president, she was using a metaphor, which meant roughly that Bill was simpatico with black ambitions. Poets use metaphors all the time. Who wudda’thunk back then that today another Clinton, Hillary, would be running for president against a non-metaphorical black man?

Sometimes, life pitches us an astounding curve ball.

Obama, surprisingly slow on his feet during this debate, probably should have said that the black experience seen from the inside is often different than the same experience seen from the outside, and that would have been an end of it.

The truly odd and wonderful thing about America is that we are having the discussion at all. Obama is running for president; he’s black; he’s good. Very likely Hillary’s success or failure will turn on other questions: Do we want another presidential dynasty; will either of these people make worse a situation in the Middle East that appears to be on the mend; are my taxes going up?

Those are the important questions. None of them will be answered – or even presented – in the primaries, which are a waste of time. The last question is: How will the candidate chosen by the Democrat Party hold up in the general election? It is not altogether certain that experience in office will decide that issue. Both Obama and, to be truthful, Hillary are light on executive experience. Time will tell.

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