The Trouble With Obama

Campaign sharpies are busy dissecting Barack Obama's weakness in the Philly suburbs, but I'm going to add something to today's column on his problems with some whites and Jews.

It came via e-mail by Susan Brown, who was canvassing for Obama in her Montgomery County hometown of Dresher. The attorney wrote:

In February I was a 55 year old white woman trying to choose a candidate, feeling drawn to Hillary. Then I listened to Obama speak and I was inspired. I felt as I had not felt since March 16, 1968 (my 16th birthday) when Bobby Kennedy announced he was running for president. So I chose Obama and volunteered to help his campaign.

I cancassed in my local area, Dresher. As I spoke to my neighbors, my heart sank. Several people told me the country wasn't ready for a black president. One person right out said he would never vote for a black person for president. (Stunned, I stammered that he was only half black.) One person said "the blacks get everything already." Three of my Jewish neighbors (and friends) said that they believed Obama either was a Muslim or had Muslim ties.

Well  I guess these people represented more Montgomery County residents than I had hoped. I volunteered for Bobby and have my heart broken on June 5, 1968. I gave up on politics for many years, doing little more than vote. Not until Obama did I feel how I had felt about Bobby. My heart is broken again.

Will we ever have my dream of a president who can bring all races together, and speak to us like adults and not scream and lie and distort the truth? ...

In addition to a cheesesteak, Obama should have had a bagel.


Another letter came in after the column, this one from Cherry Hill-reared Dan Berrigan, 23, a grad student in Atlanta. He wonders whether the North is more racist than the South. He writes:

As I watched the Pennsylvania primary unfold I began to see something about Pennsylvania, and the north as a whole that was extremely disheartening. It is the belief held by many whites in Pennsylvania and New Jersey that America is not ready for a black president. To me,  this reeks of racial bias and ignorance. A year ago, I was talking to a friend of mine at lunch who has lived in the south all his life. He mentioned to me that he thought the north was more racist than the south. His reasoning was that in the south, white and black folks have been forced to live together and work together for years now. It's nothing new anymore. Sure there are bigots out there, but most have had to confront their racial biases at some point or another. Basically, it's been forced out into the open. He continued that in the north, people quickly moved out into the suburbs away from blacks in the city and basically have avoided the issue entirely. As a result, many have not had to confront their biases towards a particular race of people. I feel like if Obama had been a white man, people would vote for him with the rationale of, "We aren't ready for a woman president."

We have had black mayors, governors, senators, representatives, and even Secretaries of State. Why is president "off limits"? When does a race of people become 'ready' for America? How is that judged exactly?

Does it require more than the support of millions of people ready to throw their hard earned money at them? And why is it that people in my generation seem to see him as a person almost universally, but older folks can't see Barack for more than his skin color?

I'd be interested to see too how white folks in the south went for
Obama versus white folks in the north. Because frankly, between reading some of the comments posted on, and comments made by people I know, I am beginning to believe my friend is right. A large number of people in Pennsylvania, New Jersey, etc. are too simple-minded or afraid to confront their own racial biases, and would rather hide behind a flimsy argument. It's really pathetic. I hope I am wrong, and that my friend is wrong. I understand this argument against Obama is used by people of all states, but why did this seem like the elephant in the room to me?