Why Obama Won’t Be President

Rick Hamada
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Wednesday - December 20, 2006

Is America ready to elect a black man president of the United States of America?

I know this is a politically incorrect question. Heaven forbid we should remind people that differences among men include skin color. We seem to avoid observations about race for fear the PC police will pounce upon us for inappropriate conversation.

Like it or not, race plays an important role in everyday life and specifically in politics - as my colleague Dan Boylan has pointed out in numerous local elections.

There are those who say that race is irrelevant. I say those people are disingenuous. I understand the desire for a bias-free Utopian state, but it simply does not exist. Prejudice and preference - whether it’s regarding body type, tattoos, religious belief, your high school, sexual orientation or political affiliation - are alive and well.

Consider the phenomenon that is U.S. Sen. Barack Obama. He has risen from virtual obscurity to the lofty position of viable alternative to U.S. Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton for the 2008 Democratic presidential nomination. In all the fervor surrounding Obama, rarely do you hear the question asked if his race, African American, will be a campaign issue.

Not only do I believe it will be an issue, but it will be a primary factor in his defeat, if he chooses to run.

I understand the lofty goal of fulfilling the wishes of Martin Luther King Jr. I agree that one should judge a man by the content of his character rather than the color of his skin. I believe I do that, and I am sure you believe you do, too. But human nature (some would say ignorance) and our flawed superficial qualifiers kick in.

There are some Democrat activists here at home who are working to draft Obama into a run for president in 2008. The only stated reason for their collective support is his birth in Honolulu and graduation from Punahou. I guess that’s all it takes.

Let us consider Obama for the presidency.

First, he has two years of experience as a U.S. senator. Yes, he was instrumental in increasing the amount of Pell Grants to university students. OK, what’s next?

I hope an examination of record and position will emerge and as the clock ticks closer to 2008. I would hope one would also consider Obama’s thoughts on the war on terror, North Korea, China, Israel, Iran, Palestine and Lebanon. I expect supporters will cite his position (whatever it may be) on the economy, public safety, taxation, education, overall military preparedness, intelligence and transportation.

I have a sneaking suspicion these criteria for presidency are trumped by Obama’s celebrity candidacy. OK, his speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention was good. But is it the basis for the pursuit of the land’s highest office?

When former ambassador Alan Keyes ran for president in 1996 and 2000, he was consistently referred to as an “African-American” or “black” candidate. Part of the reason media trumpeted his race is he is a conservative Republican. He was treated as a novelty.

Sen. Barack Obama is being treated like a rock star because the Democratic Party is starving for a candidate who is fresh and, in a way, clean. The bench is a little thin with Sen. John Edwards, Sen. Hillary Clinton, Sen. John Kerry and the omnipresent former Vice President Al Gore.

At the very least, Obama does capture the imagination. But because of his race and our present point in American history, I wouldn’t bet on him capturing the nomination for president.

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