There is much to distinguish Rush Limbaugh and George Will. But there is also much they have in common. They both explain Obama's electoral success by the completely non-racist suggestion that Obama, completely undeserving of the job, has profitted from affirmative action. What distinguishes Will from Limbaugh, however, is that Will is able to find an inappropriate analogy to make his point, Limbaugh, already famous for baselessly doubting the genuine accomplishments of African Americans everywhere, just says Obama has profited from Affirmative Action. Another difference is that Will patronizingly suggests such feelings for Obama might speak well of Americans.
Obama’s administration is in shambles, yet he is prospering politically. This may not, however, entirely be evidence of the irrationality of the electorate. Something more benign may be at work.
A significant date in the nation’s civil rights progress involved an African American baseball player named Robinson, but not Jackie. The date was Oct. 3, 1974, when Frank Robinson, one the greatest players in history, was hired by the Cleveland Indians as the major leagues’ first black manager. But an even more important milestone of progress occurred June 19, 1977, when the Indians fired him. That was colorblind equality.
Managers get fired all the time. The fact that the Indians felt free to fire Robinson — who went on to have a distinguished career managing four other teams — showed that another racial barrier had fallen: Henceforth, African Americans, too, could enjoy the God-given right to be scapegoats for impatient team owners or incompetent team executives.
Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation’s heart, if not its head.
I remember Sarah Palin as well, and George Bush, I also remember Mitt Romney's characterization of 47 percent of the electorate as lazy moochers. Then there is the string of things Obama has done that people kind of like. These might also be explanatory factors in the President's recent and past political success. People also seem to be aware that he inherited the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression (or so they think anyway). Wonder why, however, those guys at MSNBC would ever dare to suggest that calling someone an Affirmative Action President was somehow racist. Why would they do that? After all, he's just like that other black guy.