Wednesday, August 27, 2008

Breaking News: Obama is Still Black

Though far from quieted, the constant drumbeat of “party disunity” is being drowned out by the thunderous sound of conventioneers cheering BOTH its top primary candidates. Senator Hillary Clinton spent 23 minutes on Tuesday night talking up and wholeheartedly endorsing Barack Obama, and, with the exception of a few small pockets, delegates and assembled guests inside the Pepsi Center embraced the message with several standing ovations.

By the time the Big Dawg finishes barking Wednesday night, the schism that has so dominated the establishment media narrative will have been officially and publicly put to bed. (I am not denying that some private rifts still exist between specific members of the campaigns, but all that I speak to here—and I have made a point of asking everyone I meet, from delegate to campaign official to fundraiser—expresses first and up front that everyone knows what has to be done to elect Democrats in November, and that starts with uniting behind Obama-Biden.)

Troubling, I know. Because without an unofficial official through-line, we might actually have to make this campaign about access to affordable healthcare, or a post-hydrocarbon economy, or Iraq and Afghanistan, or about the hundreds of issues where Barack Obama and John McCain. . . and that would take time and at least one google search.

But, do not furrow your pancaked and powdered brow, it appears that the broadcast media, at least, have gotten word of a new and groundbreaking meme: Barack Obama is apparently (are you sitting down?) African American.

Oh, what am I saying, that’s not how they put it. Take two: Barack Obama is black.

And he’s running for president, too! (Talk about your audacity of hope!)

This "Breaking News" was broken (or is it that this is broken news?) by Joe Scarborough on Wednesday’s Morning Joe—I will let leevank give you the rundown:

It seems that Barack Obama is like Ivy League MBA who shows up on the shop floor and lays everybody off. And then it got to how Barack Obama managed to get into all of those elite schools he attended. Pat Buchanan volunteered a story about hearing from an alumnus of some Catholic high school that they'd had three members of their most recent graduating class admitted to Harvard, and how he'd said, "That's great!" And how he'd heard in return, "They were all black."

I was stunned. The story line is now EXPLICITLY that Barack Obama is the unqualified black guy who is taking YOUR job, or YOUR kid's spot in college, simply because of the color of his skin.

But, apparently, it is not enough that Scarborough and Buchanan hip us to (what is actually half of) BHO’s racial background—Obama needs to tell us himself.

A few hours after Morning Joe, Brian Williams was anchoring DNC coverage on MSNBC and asked if there wasn't "some point during this campaign—maybe during one of the debates—when Obama has to look into the camera and say to America, 'I'm black.'" (Not an exact quote—I am catching TV on the fly here in Denver—but it is very close to a verbatim.) Williams qualified it, sort of, by saying this was about acknowledging that some people won't vote for an African American.

Then there is the “gentleman of the Old School” (to quote Media Bistro), Charlie Gibson of ABC, who has been dragged (kicking and screaming, apparently) into the blogosphere as part of his convention coverage. What does Charlie have to say about this experience? Well, it seems what comes to mind is that Barack Obama is, um, you know. . .

They throw around the word historic a lot in conventions and yet this one really is. . . .

If you had told me that before I died, one of the major parties in this country would nominate an African American for president, I'd be amazed.

To be fair, Gibson is reflecting on how far America has come since his personal experiences reporting some 40 years ago in a segregated Lynchburg, VA, and even I think that there are many aspects of Obama’s rise to become the Democratic standard-bearer that could be called “historic,” his mixed-race background among them. But, still, I think a lot of us in and outside of the medias (sorry about the plural plural) have been aware of and moved on from the color of Obama’s skin being issue one in this election.

Still, old memes never die, they just get repeated (that’s pretty much by definition, I guess), and the New York Times, perhaps sensing that they have but one day left to flog this dead stalking horse, led with this:

Mr. Obama’s name will be put in nomination some time after 3 p.m. local time (5 p.m. Eastern time), but only after his primary rival, Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton, is also nominated. Roughly half of her 1,640 delegates said in a pre-convention poll that they intended to vote for her when her name is put in nomination, but there have been intense private negotiations between the Obama and Clinton camps to cut short the roll call and make Mr. Obama the unanimous nominee.

. . . .

But the formal nomination of Mr. Obama will not end the drama that has riven the Obama and Clinton camps and provided a consuming story line of this convention.

Say, what? As I wrote earlier, and has been seconded, even in the establishment press, this is not the consuming story line of this convention for anyone who is actually at the convention.

As I am writing this, the roll call is proceeding—and proceeding smoothly. Is that a story? Only, I suppose in contrast to the establishment reportage.

Tonight, Bill Clinton will make his speech, and

An aide to the former president said Mr. Clinton will be as supportive of Mr. Obama as Mrs. Clinton was in her 23-minute address on Tuesday.

"It’s as strong as she was in every respect," the aide said. "And shorter."

And then what will John Broder and his establishment buddies have to write about?

I guess the broadcast media is ahead of the press, so we can shed the anxiety that we might sympathetically feel for our better-paid friends. The troubles with the Clintons might be yesterday’s non-story, but Barack Obama continues to be black.

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