Obama, Race, And Moving Beyond The Webb
The caption to this illustration in The New Yorker back on the 12th (accompanying the article, “The Appalachian Problem,”) read: Will Jim Webb’s Scots-Irish populism work for Obama in the hill country?
In spite of the latent racism and the dripping sarcasm about subterfuge, you can sense the answer in a single line in yesterday morning’s piece in theNYT by Obama critic, Michael Powell. Writing from Roanoke, Powell choked out:
The Obama of the campaign trail is at once more prosaic and perhaps more proficient.
If you sidestep Mr. Powell’s racist allusions to Obama as a black charmer, a political Miles Davis playing through a mute to effect just the right strains for his white rural audience, and you can get beyond the harsh description of Obama “backstroking in the regional accent pool,” what emerges is the answer to the question.
Well, I think the idea it’s the white conduit that effects the connection is incomplete at best, and falls short of acknowledging the slow, but steady shift in consciousness taking place in America. On the contrary, I think it’s the historic experience and lesson of this campaign that people are inching that much closer to the understanding we are all “one of us.”
Besides, if the bridging and representing implied in this image was all Webb’s doing, the same “coming around” wouldn’t be happening now across rural America.