WASHINGTON — House Assistant Democratic Leader Jim Clyburn, the highest-ranking African-American in Congress, on Wednesday blamed most of President Barack Obama's political problems on racism...I think the major factor in Clyburn's opinion is not Obama's blackness, but his own age. The Civil Rights Generation is the one generation that has not managed to almost wholly move past the racial hangups of the generation that came before it. Part of this, I suspect, is that not a few Civil Rights marchers are like the old guy everyone knew who told stories of D-Day at every family picnic; it was the one really meaningful thing in his life and he forever tried to re-live the glory*. The rest, I suspect, is that race warriors like Clyburn have drawn a paycheck for 'fighting' racism for so long, they don't have a lot of interest in it going away.
"You know, I'm 70 years old," he said. "And I can tell you; people don't like to deal with it, but the fact of the matter is, the president's problems are in large measure because of the color of his skin."
But racism is also too easy an explanation for Obama's problems. Clyburn thinks Obama has been "a good president, a great commander in chief." I think he's been a masterful combination of arrogance and obsequiousness, incompetence and droning cluelessness, and is always too ready to stick his nose in where it doesn't belong**, and the record supports my interpretation better than Clyburn's. In short, Obama is a progressive, surrounded by progressives. The fact that he's black just makes it easier for progressives to blame the inevitable problems on the perceived*** moral shortcomings of Obama's detractors: it's not that he's a pompous ass who wants the government to run everyone's life, it's that racists like you think he's an uppity negro.
By now the novelty of the first**** black President should have worn off, and has for everyone but progressives. Half of his first term is over, everyone knows a black guy can do the job, we have now reached the point where Obama is just the President, judged not by his skin but by the content of his character. There was another civil rights marcher who dreamed we could reach this point. Who'd have thought those who marched alongside him would have the most trouble accepting the consequences of that?
* And not only Black civil rights marchers. Even white Republicans embellish family stories about marching for civil rights.
** Beer summit, anyone?
*** or rather, furiously alleged.