Does anybody really think Sen. Barack Obama has a chance of winning the presidency in 2008?
I’m still undecided on that one, but I know one thing for sure, no matter how qualified he may or may not be, his media popularity is more about boosting ratings and selling newspapers than substantive issues. I don’t think the media, Republicans or even Democrats take his candidacy seriously. They think his popularity will eventually fade like Howard Dean’s in 2004. And why shouldn’t they?
Obama’s popularity is a product of the national media trying to make the presidential race interesting. Never before has the media played a bigger role in who wins elections than it does in this era. It’s one of the proverbial “chicken and the egg” conundrums. Does the media pick which candidates are popular based on what the people think, or do the people pick candidates based on what the media thinks?
Often in the 2004 Democratic primary, candidates like Howard Dean, at the beginning of the race, and the two Johns, Kerry and Edwards, toward the end, got all the media attention, while others like Joe Lieberman, Dennis Kucinich and even good old Al Sharpton received little.
It’s been long foretold that Hillary Clinton would be the front runner for next year’s Democratic nomination, but news networks like FOX, CNN, and MSNBC have to do something to keep people watching between now and November 2008.
How do you boost your ratings? Let’s make it interesting. Throw a black guy in there.
Enter Sen. Obama.
Smart politicians, like Sen. Clinton, know the best way to deal with Obama is to say nothing. Complementing him makes them appear patronizing — Sen. Joe Biden learned that. Attacking him makes them racist. If they ignore him, America’s natural bigotry will likely eliminate him from the race by itself.
Black politicians have enough problems winning statewide elections, let alone nationwide races.
In fact, there have been 123 blacks elected to national office since 1868, but 118 of those elected were in Congress.
Congressional seats are elected by districts, relatively small parts of each state. Many of the African Americans elected were chosen in predominately black districts, or more liberal white districts.
There have only been three, count ‘em, THREE African-Americans in history elected, (by popular vote) to the U.S. Senate, where seats are chosen by a state’s entire population: Massachusetts’ Edward William Brooks III in 1966; Carol Mosley Brawn from Illinois, who was elected during the “year of the woman” in 1992; and Obama.
Even Obama’s 2004 Senate victory was kind of by default. His run for the Senate did not pick up steam until after his Republican advisary, Jack Ryan, was forced out of the race because of a sex scandal involving his wife, actress Jeri Ryan.
After that, Obama was left with no one to run against and the media realized, “a black man in the U.S. Senate? That’ll boost ratings!” In fact, the black man in the Senate headline was so powerful, the Republican National Committee tried the same thing, bringing in (snicker, snicker) Alan Keyes to run against Obama. It didn’t work out so well for Keyes.
As patronizing as the media may be about Obama, it will take at least two more generations, at best, before an African-American man or woman will win the presidency, unless there is some kind of fluke.
I’m not saying a black man can’t be president, but if there is one who wins the White House in my lifetime (I’m 24, by the way) it will be by default.
Maybe we have a black vice president and then the president dies, or by some miracle of God someone like Obama wins the Democratic primary and on the eve of the election his Republican opponent does something stupid, like slapping the Pope. At least that’s how I see it.