Wall Street Journal columnist Peggy Noonan is a fine and interesting writer. In her column today, she comes tantalizingly close to getting at the dirty little secret at the heart of the Obama phenomenon, but ultimately she refuses to go where few men (or women) have returned unscathed.
Here’s what I mean:
…An odd fact: Republicans more than others, amazingly, have internalized and hold to the idea that this president has some secret magical powers he’s just waiting to unleash. Those powers normally go by the name “eloquence.” But the eloquence was always exaggerated, and to the extent it existed, there’s no sign it’s about to kick in. Do you remember any phrase or sentence the president has said in a speech or statement the past 3½ years? One? Anything, in all that talking, that entered your head and stayed there? You do not. He is interesting, his words are not. Republicans obsess on his eloquence because it allows them to pretend they lost in 2008 because the American people were gulled by pretty words. The truth is he won because he seemed the furthest thing possible from the Republicans who’d presided over two unwon wars and the great recession.
The president’s rhetorical powers are not a factor in the campaign. Mr. Romney is not more boring than Mr. Obama. That’s not a compliment, precisely, but is true…
Dear Peggy: The Republicans are not afraid of Obama’s “eloquence.” He is and has never been any more eloquent than most politicians. You are right that Romney is no more boring than Obama, and you are wrong that even Obama himself is an interesting person. He is and always has been a bore.
So what are the Republicans really afraid of? Two words: The Race Card. It’s the Race Card that scared away candidates like Chris Christie, Haley Barbour (a white Republican from Mississippi?), Mitch Daniels and others. If you’re young, you can afford to wait and run against a white candidate; even running against a white woman is less risky than running against a black.
Peggy Noonan does not discuss why so much is made of Obama’s “eloquence” and “magical powers.” It’s similar to Thomas Sowell’s argument against racial quotas in college admissions where the black kid who should have gone to Philadelphia Community College gets into Penn State and the black kid who should have gone to Penn State is admitted to the University of Pennsylvania and so on.
The sad fact is that every ability, other than athletic, when exhibited by black people is exaggerated in the liberal mind. This humane racism may be destructive to black self-respect, but it does wonders for the egos of white liberals who need to feel morally superior.
In reality, Obama is merely reasonably articulate and intelligent. He’s not eloquent and he’s not “brilliant.”
The only thing interesting about Obama is that he isn’t “white.” That and the knowledge that he and his supporters will use the race card against their opponents is what scares the bejesus out of Republicans.