People Try to Put Us D-D-D-D-Down

Weigel
Reporting on Politics and Policy.
May 22 2012 9:41 AM

People Try to Put Us D-D-D-D-Down

While everybody else was making #freebooker jokes, Rosie Gray had the bright idea of calling up former Rep. Artur Davis to see what he thought of his fellow fortysomething black Democratic star going (very temporarily rogue). An opportunity to put more turf between himself and Barack Obama? He'll take it.

He’s contributed to both Democratic and Republican politicians recently, and occupies a perch at Harvard’s Institute of Politics. "I’m not involved in supporting the Obama campaign," he told BuzzFeed, adding that he isn’t supporting Romney either.
Advertisement

Two things.

1) Why would the Obama campaign want to use Davis? There's no upside. You've got a once-promising politician who endorsed Obama early who now completely contradicts the campaign on voter ID. You don't think some American Crossroads intern with Final Cut Pro could do something with that?

2) Gray points out that Davis, Booker, and Deval Patrick were the stars of Gwen Ifill's 2009 book about new black politics, The Breakthrough. But Davis is done with politics. Booker is a credible candidate for governor of New Jersey, a good launchpad for a presidential run. Patrick is well ensconced as governor of Massachusets. Both Davis and Harold Ford tried to win in Southern states where Barack Obama got less than 30 percent of the white vote. Patrick won by capturing white liberals in a Democratic primary, then winning a plurality of white voters in a state with little remaining anti-black stigma.

Why aren't there more Patricks? A problem that Ford and Davis never escaped: Most black voters are packed into Voting Rights Act-approved majority-minority districts, where they don't have to practice the entrepreneurial politics of politicians in swing districts. When they ran statewide, Ford and Davis had to resort to phony-looking swings to the right. Both men essentially tried to charm skeptics into submission. Winning, said Davis to Iffil, was "going to require me going into communities that have not typically had black politicians on the ballot. It's going to require me going into places all around the state and saying, 'Look, I'm not that different from you.'" He tried and failed. Black politicians outside the South have an easier time of it.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

TODAY IN SLATE

Politics

The Irritating Confidante

John Dickerson on Ben Bradlee’s fascinating relationship with John F. Kennedy.

My Father Invented Social Networking at a Girls’ Reform School in the 1930s

Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real

Sleater-Kinney Was Once America’s Best Rock Band

Can it be again?

The All The President’s Men Scene That Captured Ben Bradlee

Medical Examiner

Is It Better to Be a Hero Like Batman?

Or an altruist like Bruce Wayne?

Technology

Driving in Circles

The autonomous Google car may never actually happen.

The World’s Human Rights Violators Are Signatories to the World’s Human Rights Treaties

How Punctual Are Germans?

  News & Politics
Politics
Oct. 22 2014 12:44 AM We Need More Ben Bradlees His relationship with John F. Kennedy shows what’s missing from today’s Washington journalism.
  Business
Moneybox
Oct. 21 2014 5:57 PM Soda and Fries Have Lost Their Charm for Both Consumers and Investors
  Life
Outward
Oct. 22 2014 9:00 AM Wailing Against the Pansies: Homophobia in Whiplash
  Double X
The XX Factor
Oct. 21 2014 3:03 PM Renée Zellweger’s New Face Is Too Real
  Slate Plus
Working
Oct. 22 2014 6:00 AM Why It’s OK to Ask People What They Do David Plotz talks to two junior staffers about the lessons of Working.
  Arts
Brow Beat
Oct. 21 2014 9:42 PM The All The President’s Men Scene That Perfectly Captured Ben Bradlee’s Genius
  Technology
Future Tense
Oct. 22 2014 8:43 AM Thunderstruck: Rock Out With Mother Nature’s Evil Side
  Health & Science
Bad Astronomy
Oct. 22 2014 7:30 AM An Illusion That Makes Me Happy and Sad
  Sports
Sports Nut
Oct. 20 2014 5:09 PM Keepaway, on Three. Ready—Break! On his record-breaking touchdown pass, Peyton Manning couldn’t even leave the celebration to chance.