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Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 17:51 | SYDNEY
Sunday 20 Aug 2017 | 17:51 | SYDNEY

Jesse Jackson's gift to Obama

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10 July 2008 11:20

As Fergus said in a previous post, Barack Obama has lately busied himself tacking to the political centre, making Americans feel that he is not a radical and that it is safe to vote for him. Quite a Ruddite strategy, actually.

But one factor affecting American politics (and Obama in particular) which Rudd never had to confront is race. There is a lingering feeling among pundits that Americans are not ready to elect a black man president, particularly one who has associations with radicals like Obama's former preacher, Reverend Wright.

So it does Obama no harm at all that another symbol of the previous generation of black activism, Jesse Jackson, has been caught on tape excoriating Obama in very colourful language. And best of all was the subject of Jackson's wrath: that Obama was too critical of the moral failings of black men, who according to Obama are not taking education or the responsibilities of family seriously enough. Jackson has apologised for the comments and says he continues to support Obama's candidacy.

For Obama, it's all good. The message to middle America is that Obama is not beholden to the old divisive race agenda, and favours a self-help form of racial equality that whites can easily get behind. I tend to think Americans are dying to vote for a black man — it will make them feel good about themselves and their country. But it has to be the right kind of man, who won't frighten the horses too  much. Obama understands this and has responded to it. For what it's worth , I increasingly think Obama will win comfortably. (Nb. my predictions are worth very little.)

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