Monday, March 24, 2008
when a politician tells the truth.
To cover the Obama race speech, we may need a second kind of Kinsley Gaffe, call it KG II, that would apply to the trouble generated
when a politican says what he or she actually thinks (whether or not it's the truth).
That is to say, whatever the result of Obama's race speech, it's hard to conclude he didn't honestly say what he believes. He believes, among other things: 1) black churches like Jeremiah Wright's are too victim-oriented; 2) it's offensively prejudiced to be wary of black men on the street.
He's also 3) reluctant to think white resentments over welfare and affirmative action are justified as objections to welfare and affirmative action, and 4) prefers to see them as expressions of "legitimate" frustration over uncertain living standards.
Candor is surely the necessary starting point for a useful national conversation on race (the one that Obama didn't seem to want to have until his pastor got him in political hot water). One side says, "You're scared of young black men." The other side says, "Yes, and here's why." Progress becomes possible. One side says, "You get all these breaks just because of your race." The other side says ,"We have to be twice as good to get the same respect." If you don't ever have the argument you probably can't get over the argument.
But candor isn't a sufficient--or maybe even necessary--quality in a President. That depends more on what you think about what Obama thinks.