I don't know if America is ready to accept a black president.
Everyone I know has absolutely no problems with the concept, but I have always lived in and around big, multicultural cities. I don't have any special insight into how many racists there are in the country.
I honestly cannot conceive of a person so stupid and shallow that they actually think there is a mental difference among races. Of course, there is no evidence to support such a conclusion and in fact, there is overwhelming scientific evidence to prove the contrary. Ironically, the racists believe they are smarter for believing something that proves they are dumber -- or at least, less educated.
How many of these painfully ignorant people are there in America? I don't know. I can only hope that there aren't too many, or enough to swing a presidential election.
So, it is perhaps my naiveté that leads me to conclude that the American people are at least not racist enough to swing a national election based on our racism. For whatever reason, that is my hope and my belief.
Religion, on the other hand, is another matter. Religious bias against Muslims is far more prevalent and defended by many in the media and politics. The Glenn Becks and the Dennis Pragers of the world find it perfectly acceptable to single out Muslims for discrimination and suspicion. This might be a much bigger problem for Barack Obama.
Why? Obama isn't Muslim, he is Christian. Problem solved. Not exactly.
As conservative pundit Ed Rogers pointed out on MSNBC a couple of weeks ago, Sen. Obama's middle name is "Hussein." So, how long do you think it'll be before the right wing starts referring to the senator from Illinois as Barack Hussein Obama? Not very long, since it's already started.
Now, the real question is how many Americans will go into voting booth and check off the box for Barack Hussein Obama as the next President of the United States? There, I have my doubts.
But I hope to God that the press doesn't write him off based on this. It would be very ironic for the press to assume that the American people are racists or biased and hence, minimize the senator's chances, thereby helping the cause of the racists and the biased.
I think the real substantive issue for Sen. Obama is his paper thin record. Based on what he says, I believe that he might make a fine leader and seems to have the right values. But what has he done?
Barack Obama has been a United States senator for two years while the Bush administration has broken one law after another. Illegal wiretapping, torturing detainees, destroying habeas corpus. Let alone the prosecution of an unjustifiable and horrendously executed war in Iraq. And what has he done about it?
A speech here and there -- though I don't recall any. Has he spearheaded any legislation to roll back the Military Commissions Act or to reign in violations of the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act statute? Has he made a heroic speech on why America shouldn't degrade itself by torturing its detainees? Has he made a powerful case on why we should have never invaded Iraq and what our new course in Iraq should be?
I've been paying attention. If he said any of these things, he must have said them in a deafening whisper.
When his record on these matters is contrasted with Al Gore's, it becomes even starker. The reason many Americans are excited about the possibility of Gore's return is not because we loved how he carried out the 2000 election. It's because of what he has said since then. He has spoken out fervently in defense of the United States Constitution, its law, its justice system and its core principles.
Gore has roared while Obama has whispered. This makes an enormous difference. A real difference, not something based on guesses and theories as to how many Americans might hold nebulous prejudices.
Is it too late? Not by a long shot. Speeches are what Obama is good at. So, can he rally? Absolutely. Can he show decisive leadership rather than just good political instincts? Absolutely.
But he hasn't done it yet.