Letter from the Editor

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Too darn white, too darn male

Yes, if there is one thing we have learned in the long, proud history of this great democracy, it is that America may not be ready yet to elect a rich white man as president.

It is a hard burden to bear, this white maleness. Not only are they the minority on both counts in many places, it is as though they were invisible to society, pale and devoid of cleaveage, segregated away into their gated suburb ghettos.

"Noooooobody knows the trrrrrrrrrrrrouble I've seen at the country club, noooooooobody knows the sorrrrrrrrrrrow of the 33% income tax bracket..."

Elizabeth Edwards is onto something, I think.

Reflecting on her husband trailing Obama and Clinton in the national polls, she famously said recently,

"We can't make John black, we can't make him a woman. Those things get you a lot of press..."

Wait, now. We're giving up too darn easily! We have a lot of technology at our disposal today. I'm virtually certain we could make John Edwards a woman if we really wanted to, and with a little Michael Jackson in reverse, there must at least be a fighting chance to make him black if we put our minds to it.

Yup, kids, that would get some press, alright. And hey, it's not like we haven't spun and re-created a politician before.

This, however, is a brand spanking new and interesting concept - that not only are we apparently ready to elect a president from a race or gender that this country once didn't even allow to vote, but that we've apparently raced right past that milestone to the point where being a white dude is a huge and unfair disadvantage in politics.

Hello - didn't see that coming.

I'd really like to think that voters have simply decided that gender and race don't matter, and issues do. After all, if being black and female were such an advantage, Oprah would be president right now. (You know, I could live with that - but Dr. Phil as Secretary of State might be going too far.)

Now, don't get me wrong - John Edwards is one of the finest people I've ever come across in covering campaigns, and his wife Elizabeth, by all accounts, is a remarkable and courageous person.

But I think this comment has strayed from reality a bit.

Is Hillary Clinton on top of the polls just because she's a woman? Is Barack Obama successful only because of his skin color? Some kind of voter affirmative action program?

True enough, political campaigns can take on a rock star sort of life of their own, in which a candidate is deemed a celebrity and mobbed for autographs for a time, until the next "star" eclipses them. Speaking ability, looks, name recognition, past achievements, connections to famous folk, outrageousness, fresh takes on emotional issues - all of these can pull crowds, media attention and donations for a time. I just don't think color or gender really make that list. We're past that.

The Edwards should be pleased to have an opportunity to campaign in an environment that finally seems open and non-discriminating (though the openly gay viable candidate for president could be a little ways off yet.)

The idea that being a white man is a cause for pity is the best laugh of the campaign so far, with the possible exception of McCain's butchering of Beach Boy tunes.

Mrs. Edwards sounds disappointed that despite her best efforts, she has not managed to convince John to be female or black.

Hmmm. One thing might help in that regard.

You could order him to sit in the back of the campaign bus, Elizabeth. Before we throw out the discrimination card, we should reflect that as white men, we don't even know what it means.