Published October 12, 2008
With the national and global economies tanking and with Republican President Bush not being taken seriously by the financial markets, why isn't Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama leaving Republican John McCain in the dust?
The answer: For the same reason that has been articulated in this blog and by this writer in his Sunday column for many months — Obama's race. A black father from Kenya, East Africa, and a white mother from Kansas renders Obama suspect in the eyes of many American voters.
If Hillary Clinton had been the Democratic Party's standardbearer, this election would be all but over. McCain is having a great deal of difficulty articulating an economic policy that engenders public confidence. His running mate, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, has turned out to be anything but the self-styled maverick she has claimed to be.
A week ago Sunday, the New York Times published a piece based on observations about the presidential election from journalists in swing states. This writer's comments follow:
Hillary won here in the primary. On the issues that matter to people here — the economy, health care — she and Obama are on the same page. So the issue is why is McCain spending so much time in the Mahoning Valley when you have a Democrat who is on the same page on all the issues?
When McCain was visiting auto plants in Detroit during the primary and he said “these jobs are not coming back,” people here were just livid about that.
This is a place where you go from high school to the plant where your dad works. They believe you can’t give up on manufacturing, that you can’t have a strong country without it. They don’t want to hear about retraining. They hear that and they think, “What is he talking about?”
So when you look at the economy and you look at what’s happened to it, you would think that Obama would be doing a lot better here.
And yet — because of his race, I don’t think he’s getting that kind of traction. Because of the race factor, everything is up in the air. There’s a comfort level that is just not there.
Bertram de Souza, columnist
Those observations brought this response from a reader in Minneapolis:
Dear de Souza:
I was very impressed to read your column in the New York Times on Sunday. In my reading, it has been the rare writer indeed who has had the guts to discuss the race factor in connection with our upcoming election of the new President of the United States.
Having lived in this country for fifty years, I know many people who will not vote for Barack Obama because of his race. While some of these folks are outspoken about their feelings, most keep it in the closet. I hope all Americans can look into hearts and decide their votes based upon the factors that matter, and not race.
Thanks for your candor.
Yours very truly,
George E. Antrim, III
Because of the issue of race, the national polls must be looked at with caution. The election for president is going down to the wire because Obama is black.