Race Beat Sex

Dan Henninger explains how race beat sex in the Democratic contest:

…The irony too bitter to swallow is that Barack Obama’s identity politics trumped Hillary Clinton’s identity politics. Put differently, what goes around comes around.

“Identity politics,” something new, emerged from the dank vapors of the late 1960s and 1970s. The theory came hard-boiled and soft-boiled.

The hard version introduced people, mostly college students, to an America partitioned into categories of race, gender, ethnicity and sexuality. The softer version has flown for 30 years under all sorts of euphemized banners – diversity, multiculturalism, celebrating our differences. Only one campaign is celebrating our differences this week.

People were aghast in January when Bill Clinton made his Jesse Jackson remark after the South Carolina primary. But Bill’s race card was but one in a full Democratic deck. He surely saw that Obama’s astounding 79% of the black vote was something stronger than an old-time ethnic vote.

For 30 years, black leaders like Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton had whipped up an extreme form of race consciousness. Democrats were happy to accommodate it so long as it delivered votes from the inner cities. In return, these inner-city districts were heavily weighted with delegates in the Democrats’ proportional primary system. Obama swept them, and Hillary and Bill were helpless against it.

After South Carolina, the campaigns accused each other of playing the race or gender card. Obama deflected this charge. “I don’t want to deny the role of race and gender in our society,” Obama said. “They’re there, and they’re powerful. But I don’t think it’s productive.”

I’m not convinced. I think Barack Obama is more inclined to interpret American life in the formal categories of identity politics than is generally thought, or even than would older “conventional liberals” like Al Gore or John Kerry. Legal theorists have been a main source of its ideas; it’s hard to imagine that Barack and Michelle Obama didn’t hear a lot about “marginalized constituencies” at Harvard Law School. Sen. Obama may not be so conventional after all.

Speaking last July about picking Supreme Court nominees, he said: “We need someone who’s got the heart . . . the empathy to understand what it’s like to be poor or African-American or gay or disabled or old – and that’s the criteria by which I’ll be selecting my judges.” This is the language of identity politics. It’s not just talk. It’s an ideology designed to produce . . . change.

No real disagreement over identity goals and targets would ever emerge in a debate between Obama and Hillary, who after all was coaching first base in 1993 when her husband nominated the identity-rights theorist Lani Guinier (now a Harvard Law professor) to head the Justice department’s civil rights division.

It could come up in an Obama-McCain debate. I suspect these two have profoundly different notions of how America works.

John McCain by instinct, biography and upbringing is prone to see America as a common civic culture. The vocabulary of “unjust” class distinctions familiar to Obama is alien to the McCain worldview. Sen. McCain should think about this and figure out a way to talk about it. If Americans are going to affirm a president making appointments on the basis of race, gender, class and sexuality, they should know it in 2008, rather than 2009-2012.

And Ms. Coulter notes that, as in the 2000 general election, Obama was “selected, not elected”:

Words mean nothing to liberals. They say whatever will help advance their cause at the moment, switch talking points in a heartbeat, and then act indignant if anyone uses the exact same argument they were using five minutes ago.

When Gore won the popular vote in the 2000 election by half a percentage point, but lost the Electoral College — or, for short, “the constitutionally prescribed method for choosing presidents” — anyone who denied the sacred importance of the popular vote was either an idiot or a dangerous partisan.

But now Hillary has won the popular vote in a Democratic primary, while Obambi has won under the rules. In a spectacular turnabout, media commentators are heaping sarcasm on our plucky Hillary for imagining the “popular vote” has any relevance whatsoever.

It’s the exact same situation as in 2000, with Hillary in the position of Gore and Obama in the position of Bush. The only difference is: Hillary has a much stronger argument than Gore ever did (and Hillary’s more of a man than Gore ever was).

… Our brave Hillary has every right to take her delegates to the Democratic National Convention and put her case to a vote. She is much closer to B. Hussein Obama than the sainted Teddy Kennedy was to Carter in 1980 when Teddy staged an obviously hopeless rules challenge at the convention. (I mean rules about choosing the candidate, not rules about crushed ice at after-parties.)

And yet every time Hillary breathes a word about her victory in the popular vote, TV hosts respond with sneering contempt at her gaucherie for even mentioning it. (Of course, if popularity mattered, networks like MSNBC wouldn’t exist. That’s a station that depends entirely on “superviewers.”)

After nearly eight years of having to listen to liberals crow that Bush was “selected, not elected,” this is a shocking about-face. Apparently unaware of the new party line that the popular vote amounts to nothing more than warm spit, just last week HBO ran its movie “Recount,” about the 2000 Florida election, the premise of which is that sneaky Republicans stole the presidency from popular vote champion Al Gore. (Despite massive publicity, the movie bombed, with only about 1 million viewers, so now HBO is demanding a “recount.”)

So where is Kevin Spacey from HBO’s “Recount,” to defend Hillary, shouting: “WHO WON THIS PRIMARY?”

And Thomas Sowell on the choice:

…The terrorists have given us as clear a picture of what they are all about as Adolf Hitler and the Nazis did during the 1930s– and our “leaders” and intelligentsia have ignored the warning signs as resolutely as the “leaders” and intelligentsia of the 1930s downplayed the dangers of Hitler.

We are much like people drifting down the Niagara River, oblivious to the waterfalls up ahead. Once we go over those falls, we cannot come back up again.

What does this have to do with today’s presidential candidates? It has everything to do with them.

One of these candidates will determine what we are going to do to stop Iran from going nuclear– or whether we are going to do anything other than talk, as Western leaders talked in the 1930s.

There is one big difference between now and the 1930s. Although the West’s lack of military preparedness and its political irresolution led to three solid years of devastating losses to Nazi Germany and imperial Japan, nevertheless when all the West’s industrial and military forces were finally mobilized, the democracies were able to turn the tide and win decisively.

But you cannot lose a nuclear war for three years and then come back. You cannot even sustain the will to resist for three years when you are first broken down morally by threats and then devastated by nuclear bombs.

Our one window of opportunity to prevent this will occur within the term of whoever becomes President of the United States next January.

At a time like this, we do not have the luxury of waiting for our ideal candidate or of indulging our emotions by voting for some third party candidate to show our displeasure– at the cost of putting someone in the White House who is not up to the job.

Senator John McCain has been criticized in this column many times. But, when all is said and done, Senator McCain has not spent decades aiding and abetting people who hate America.

On the contrary, he has paid a huge price for resisting our enemies, even when they held him prisoner and tortured him. The choice between him and Barack Obama should be a no-brainer.

And Power Line on Obama’s “singular inability to ‘know’ his most intimate associates”:

…Barack Obama’s friend, financier and political supporter Tony Rezko was convicted by a Chicago jury today on sixteen counts involving various forms of political corruption. Obama released this statement:

“I’m saddened by today’s verdict. This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew, but now he has been convicted by a jury on multiple charges that once again shine a spotlight on the need for reform. I encourage the General Assembly to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent these kinds of abuses in the future.”

I don’t doubt that Obama is saddened by his mentor’s conviction, but the rest of his statement is from outer space. “This isn’t the Tony Rezko I knew.” Deja vu, anyone? I could swear I’ve heard it somewhere before. Sure enough–the racist, anti-American Rev. Wright whom we’ve all seen on video wasn’t the Rev. Wright whom Obama knew for 20 years, either. And the outrageously bigoted Father Pfleger wasn’t the Pfleger whom Obama assiduously supported with earmarks–another form of political corruption.

Obama seems to suffer from a singular inability to “know” his most intimate associates. One day soon, will a “saddened” Obama tell us that the Michelle Obama we see on video is “not the Michelle Obama I knew?” Time will tell.

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