Black Like Him

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This doesn’t have much to do with religion, but I find myself wondering at the claims of various pundits like the much maligned Joe Klein that Obama won because white Iowans succeeded in looking past the color of his skin. It seems to me that for some of those caucus-goers, Obama’s race may actually have been a plus. Take the pundits themselves: Even the likes of Bill Bennett thinks it’s really cool that a black guy can pull out such a win in so lily-white a state. Why shouldn’t quite a few Iowans themselves have been pleased as punch to be able to push an African American toward the Democratic nomination? Of course they liked Obama’s character and message and whatever. But the assumption that only “colorblind” white folks would vote for an African American seems profoundly mistaken–after all that America has been through to lay the ghost of slavery. And how appropriate that the man himself should be a Lincolnesque figure from the state of Illinois!
Just to touch base with religion here, there’s one way that Obama’s race has certainly worked in his favor. In American culture, everyone assumes that black folks are religious. And in this election cyle when Democrats are supposed to don the mantle of faith, Obama has had no problem convincing people that it’s not just for show. Unfortunately, the dopey entrance pollers included no question on religion for the Democratic (as opposed to the Republican) caucus-goers. So we don’t know the breakdown of support among the more religious caucusoids on the Democratic side. Bah.