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A Kamikaze Plan For Obama

The more obvious move is to find a Sister Souljah–after Saturday–to stiff arm. The most promising candidate is not a person, but an idea: race-based affirmative action. [bold original] Obama has already made noises about shifting to a class-based, race-blind system of preferences. What if he made that explicit? Wouldn’t that shock hostile white voters into taking a second look at his candidacy? He’d renew his image as trans-race leader (and healer). The howls of criticism from the conventional civil-rights establishment–they’d flood the cable shows–would provide him with an army of Souljahs to hold off. If anyone noticed Hillary in the ensuing fuss, it would be to put her on the spot–she’d be the one defending mend-it-don’t-end-it civil rights orthodoxy. ~Mickey Kaus

This would certainly be a bold move, but this is a cure that is worse than the illness from the perspective of keeping Obama’s campaign afloat.  In the wake of Obama’s speech in Atlanta (in which he rails against the “profound structural and institutional barriers” to opportunity and the “insidious role that race still plays”), can you really see him taking this position?  I’m also just trying to imagine the progressive reaction to this.  Many on the left had a conniption because the man referred to Reagan in a mildly positive way.  Just think of what would happen if Obama took a position that would actually be to the right of the Bush administration on such a policy–it wouldn’t just be the civil rights leaders who would react strongly.  How better to demonstrate his alleged lack of progressivism to the left than to take what is, in effect, the Republican position on race-based preferences?  Then, from the other side, his support for a “class-based preference system” would lead to predictable attacks from the right that he is stirring up “class warfare.”

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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