I received this email from a man whose path crossed mine several years ago. He is an exceptional human being involved in exceptional work: several years ago he took off went to Gambia to do some doctoring for no reason other than it was a way to serve. His blogs and stories were the stuff of a modern day Schweitzer, though he would likely deny the similarity.
Anyway, he sent me a response of one of his friends to my last blog on Hillary. I find it instructive. I’m sending it on to you with my response attached. I would love to see others write their thoughts in the “comments” section at the bottom of my blog.
Here is the exchange:
Kent, here’s an email I got from a friend after pointing him to your latest “News from..” column.
This hadn’t occurred to me. I’d seen her drive as pure hubris. Perhaps not….
Mr Nerburn has, like very very many others, missed the point of Hilary’s fight entirely. Unfortunately there is absolutely no way that she can mention it. Quite simply, regardless of his qualities and likeability (wasn’t Bush supposed to be ‘likeable’?) he is black. The US is still very racist, and there is no way that a black candidate will become president at this time. An Obama win over Clinton will DEFINITELY result in McCain becoming president.
The remedy, difficult and no doubt unpopular amongst his supporters, is for Obama to face facts as they regrettably are, and stand aside to allow Clinton to be nominated. It really doesn’t matter whether she is the better candidate. We do not want another four or eight years of a Republican president – and that is what WILL happen if Obama stands.
The best solution, and maybe the only one that will give Democrats a fighting chance, is a Clinton/Obama ticket. After being a successful VP for four (or eight) years there is an excellent chance of him then getting the top job. He is young enough to wait.
If he does stand at this time, and inevitably loses, he will eliminate all hope of a black president for at least a decade.
Mr Nerburn seems to think that Clinton is just being stubborn and dishonest. So she is, and must be. If she told the truth (that Obama, being black, will not be elected) she would be denounced as racist and she too would be unelectable. It is a large minority of Democrat voters who are racist, but will not admit it openly. They will in voting though!
Maybe I’m the only one who thinks this, but I would hate to have to say “I told you so” come November! I’m very pessimistic. Democrats are unbeatable – at losing election. And they are heading that way yet again.
And my response to his response:
Good to hear from you. I stand in awe of what you’ve done since we met several years ago. We’re too old to have heroes, but we can certainly have exemplars, and you have proven to be one. Thanks for what you do.
Your friend is a smart man. I heard the same thing from a national photographer who was covering Hillary in Pine Ridge. He had been shadowing various candidates since before New Hampshire. He said that he thought McCain was going to win because the middle of America didn’t like Obama. He wasn’t as convinced that it was pure racism, but that was one ingredient in a stew that was potent and boiling. “There are no people that look like us” in Obama’s audiences, he said, referring to middle aged white guys.
Unscientific? Perhaps. But those were his words.
Perhaps my hope is based on being the father of a 19 year old who grabbed one of his friends and went to the Obama speech at the Excel Center last night. I guess I still believe in, or hope for, a “Children’s Crusade.” After all, we had one when we were young, though we didn’t pose it in those terms. Old white folks always come out to vote; perhaps young folks of all colors will be energized to do so by Obama. It’s my wish — more than that, it’s almost my prayer.
The frightening thing is that McCain even has a chance. If the Democrats can’t win this one, they should fold up their tent. They’re running against one of the weakest candidates in memory; they’re running on the worst economic situation in memory; and they’re running against easily the worst president in my lifetime and, perhaps, in the history of the republic. If they lose this, what hope is there?
At this one moment in time I have to refuse to let myself be as cynical as your friend, though I fear that his cynicism is simply realism. If we start to see some swiftboating bulletheads turning Obama into an upper class white man, and the Democrats let it happen, I’ll buy your friend a drink and we can drown our collective sorrows. But, for now, I’ve got to believe in the light in the young people’s eyes.
Thanks for writing. May our paths cross again.
If any of you have thoughts, please weigh in. Is Hillary’s constant refrain that she’s the candidate with the best chance to beat McCain really just realpolitik in action? Is it really just code for, “A black man can’t win”?