Wednesday, January 02, 2008

Barack Obama as a Crossover Candidate?

George Will begrudgingly, condescendingly, almost wistfully thinks this 'fired-up and ready to go' presidential aspirant is the first crossover candidate since Reagan.

Will concludes a riff against Shelby Steel's Misreading Obama's Identity:
Obama's candidacy fascinates because he represents radical autonomy: He has chosen his racial identity but chosen not to make it matter much ...

Steele has brilliantly dissected the intellectual perversities that present blacks as dependent victims, reduced to trading on their moral blackmail of whites who are eager to be blackmailed in exchange for absolution. But Steele radically misreads Obama, missing his emancipation from those perversities. Obama seems to understand America's race fatigue, the unbearable boredom occasioned by today's stale politics generally and by the perfunctory theatrics of race especially.

So far, Obama is the Fred Astaire of politics -- graceful and elegant, with a surface so pleasing to the eye that it seems mistaken, even greedy, to demand depth. No one, however, would have given Astaire control of nuclear weapons, so attention must be paid to Obama's political as well as aesthetic qualities.

Steele notes that Obama "seems to have little talent for anger." But that is because Obama has opted out of the transaction Steele vigorously deplores. The political implications of this transcendence of confining categories are many, profound and encouraging.
What does this portend?