The Long, Hot Autumn

Back in the 1960’s, the coming of spring meant the appearance not only of crocuses and robins, but also of “civil rights” activists warning that if their demands weren’t met immediately, Americans could expect another “long, hot summer.” Back then, the civil rights mafiosi weren’t trying to raise our consciousness about the environment, but rather were threatening to loot and burn down our cities.

This annual orgy of mau-mauing and violence did more than any nefarious Republican “southern strategy” to encourage voters to reject what the “civil rights” movement had become. No matter that “burn baby burn” replaced “we shall overcome,” those who didn’t accept the new mantra were racist.

Now, with Barry about to be canonized (a word perhaps insufficiently grand) in Denver, we are hearing hints that we might expect a long, hot autumn should the voters reject his coming.

A Wall Street Journal editorial in today’s edition examines the “racism excuse”:

Things are supposed to be looking rosy for Democrats this November. But in case Barack Obama loses the Presidency, an excuse is all ready to go: America’s too racist to elect a black man. Not even, in his Vice Presidential pick Joe Biden’s inimitable description, one so “articulate and bright and clean.”

This narrative has gained traction with the Democratic Presidential candidate’s recent setbacks in the polls. We hear it from the convention crowd in Denver and liberals in the press. The older, poorer, white, often Hillary voter who sounds ambivalent about the Obama coronation is an enticing scapegoat.

“Call me crazy, but isn’t it possible, just possible, that Obama’s lead is being inhibited by the fact that he is, you know, black?” wrote John Heilemann in New York magazine earlier this month. “What makes Obama’s task of scoring white votes at Kerry-Gore levels so formidable is, to put it bluntly, racial prejudice.”

In this week’s Newsweek (and on Slate), Jacob Weisberg reasoned that only some “crazy irrationality over race” could prevent Mr. Obama from winning the White House. If he does win, America will have reached post-prejudice Nirvana. “If Obama loses, our children will grow up thinking of equal opportunity as a myth,” Mr. Weisberg continued. “To the rest of the world, a rejection of the promise he represents wouldn’t just be an odd choice by the United States. It would be taken for what it would be: sign and symptom of a nation’s historical decline.” Wow. Vote for Barack, or America is as irredeemable as many foreigners believe.

Part and parcel of this argument is that Republicans are bound to play the race card. The Democratic candidate made this case himself in late June. “They’re going to try to make you afraid,” Mr. Obama told a rally in Florida. “They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. ‘He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?'”

After a second round of this — recall the Obama line “He doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on the dollar bills” — the McCain campaign dared complain that at no time has the GOP candidate said anything remotely about his opponent’s race. Predictably, Mr. McCain was charged with playing the “race card” himself.

Not so long ago Mr. Obama was the Tiger Woods of American politics. As Geraldine Ferraro indelicately pointed out this spring, his African heritage helped him cast his candidacy in a history-changing light. Now, merely because the McCain campaign has begun to get its act together and raise issues like taxes and foreign policy, Mr. Obama is suddenly the victim of rampant Jim Crow sentiment?

…There are Americans who judge politicians by their race, or gender, or religion; Mr. Obama will certainly carry the black vote in November because he is black and because he is a Democrat. But we reckon that a scant number of voters are motivated by racism, and that number’s growing smaller by the day. Virginia elected a black Governor two decades ago, and Illinois has had two black Senators. America has had two black Secretaries of State, and major corporations are run by black CEOs. No other Western democracy has done as well at opening up political, business and other arenas to minorities.

Mr. Obama’s descent from his Icarusian heights earlier this spring reflects a shift in this race that has nothing to do with race. A skin-deep Obamamania had energized the country. Now that’s giving way to serious consideration of credentials and policy substance. After all, voters are choosing the world’s most powerful man. Mr. McCain has been drawing contrasts with his younger rival to close the gap in the polls. We’ll see if the trend continues.

As a matter of sober fact, many Americans look at the junior Senator from Illinois and worry, as his Democratic Vice Presidential candidate pointed out last year, that he isn’t “ready” for the job. Does this mean that anyone who agrees with Joe Biden’s previous assessment is a racist? Do Democrats really think so little of their fellow Americans?

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