At least according to this article. Now something like this is usually leaked to the press by someone. Here I’m thinking that someone from Mayor Kilpatrick’s cabinet leaked this story to the journalist. It gets at some of the difficulties that my (helpful) critics have brought up in the wake of my last two posts on Obama. Is it possible that Obama’s race actually precludes him from making the type of aggressive moves against poverty and inequality–at least in public–that Edwards (and from what this article says, Clinton too) can make?
The concept of “deracialization” was developed by black political scientists to account for the modern wave of black elected officials. Unlike their predecessors who often ran explicitly on racial claims, they were much more likely to shy away from racial issues, and likely to shy away from policies designed explicitly to deal with racial and class based inequality. Mayor Dennis Archer of Detroit, Mayor Sharon Pratt Kelly of DC, Governor L. Douglas Wilder, Representative Harold Ford, Harvey Gantt (who ran for Senate against Jesse Helms), all fit this model.
I’ve been wondering whether Obama is the newest version. He’s different than his predecessors in his background–he’s spent a significant amount of time organizing in Chicago. And he doesn’t shy away from his race at all–even though he probably could if he wanted to. He’s also different in that in at least some rhetorical contexts he does seem interested in dealing with structural issues. So those two things by themselves are enough to get his support from me in any other electoral context. And again, after the primary I would much rather work to get him elected than Clinton.
But while I think that the conversation he had with Detroit’s mayor was likely held in jest, I think Mayor Kilpatrick is right to withhold his support for Obama until he’s very clear where Obama stands. We might not have a better electoral context to deal with these issues aggressively. And if even DLC spawned Clinton is addressing these issues (where the hell the writer got this idea from isn’t clear…I’ve tripped on Obama, but can you find any issues of substance here?) then Kilpatrick’s choice shouldn’t be all that hard should it?