Thursday, May 22, 2008

Fear Of A Black President

Posted May 22, 2008 9:21 AM on "The Swamp" (The Baltimore Sun's Blog)

by Frank James

It's becoming ever more clear -- Sen. Barack Obama has substantial problems with Jewish voters but what's unclear is what he can do about it.

The latest evidence for Obama's problem with Jewish voters who have usually been reliably Democratic but have real uncertainties about Obama is an excellent piece
in this morning's New York Times by Jodi Kantor.

Kantor talked with Jewish voters in South Florida, many of them liberal Democrats, and found real skepticism about Obama, some of it based on a lack of familiarity with him, some of it on misinformation and some of it on plain old-fashioned racism.

By campaigning heavily in Florida, including flooding the state's airwaves and cable pipes with ads, Obama may be able to do something about Jewish voters who have so far resisted his charms because of their unfamiliarity with him or misinformation. But it's hard to see what such campaigning can do to reverse years of racial suspicions many Jewish voters hold about African-Americans.

Anyway, right from the starting blocks, Kantor's piece captures how difficult things are going to be for Obama as he courts voters who should be behind him but aren't.

"The people here, liberal people, will not vote for Obama because of his attitude towards Israel," Ms. Weitz, 83, said, lingering over brunch.

"They're going to vote for McCain," she said.

Ms. Grossman, 80, agreed with her friend's conclusion, but not her reasoning.

"They'll pick on the minister thing, they'll pick on the wife, but the major issue is color," she said, quietly fingering a coffee cup. Ms. Grossman said she was thinking of voting for Mr. Obama, who is leading in the delegate count for the nomination, as was Ms. Weitz.

But Ms. Grossman does not tell the neighbors. "I keep my mouth shut," she said.


It might help Obama with Jewish voters if he changed his first name to Baruch. It's a fine Hebrew name, and less threatening than the Islamic "Barack".

Both names mean "blessed".