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Obama as Mortal: Blame America

12:17 PM, Mar 18, 2008 • By MICHAEL GOLDFARB
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Barack Obama has staged one of the most remarkable campaigns in American history, all on the basis that he, and he alone, could transcend race. That he was looking forward, rather than back. And that the past could be overcome. Today, Obama put all that behind him:

Contrary to the claims of some of my critics, black and white, I have never been so naive as to believe that we can get beyond our racial divisions in a single election cycle, or with a single candidacy--particularly a candidacy as imperfect as my own.

Actually, it wasn't Obama's critics who were saying that--it was his surrogates, his supporters, and Obama himself. He would frame this election not as a choice "between regions or religions or genders. It's not about rich versus poor; young versus old; and it is not about black versus white. It's about the past versus the future." It was, as Bill Clinton might say, a fairytale.

This election was no different than any other, and it turns out that Barack Obama is really no different than any other conventional liberal candidate for the presidency. He blames America, racism, and the past for the problems of today:

Understanding this reality requires a reminder of how we arrived at this point. As William Faulkner once wrote, "The past isn't dead and buried. In fact, it isn't even past." We do not need to recite here the history of racial injustice in this country. But we do need to remind ourselves that so many of the disparities that exist in the African-American community today can be directly traced to inequalities passed on from an earlier generation that suffered under the brutal legacy of slavery and Jim Crow.

Segregated schools were, and are, inferior schools; we still haven't fixed them, fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, and the inferior education they provided, then and now, helps explain the pervasive achievement gap between today's black and white students.

Really? That's certainly the view of Reverend Wright. And it's probably the view you'd get from any professor of African American studies. So it's not even the slightest bit controversial in conventional liberal circles.

The controversial speech that would have saved Obama's campaign is here, and it was delivered on the fiftieth anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education by a man who really has transcended race. On that day, Bill Cosby said, "Brown Versus the Board of Education is no longer the white person's problem." He said "We cannot blame white people." And he spoke about a culture of accountability as the only path to success for Black America.

If Obama had said those things, perhaps he would have won 88 percent of the Black vote instead of 90 percent, but he would have laid this whole controversy to rest. Instead, he started the speech with "we the people." You can't go any further back in American history than those words. Obama just overturned the whole rationale for his campaign, and I don't think he solved any of the problems that his association with Reverend Wright has exposed.