Frank Bruni writes, in this morning's New York Times, that race is still at the center of the American presidential contest:
Although race represents a less central dynamic for Obama now than it did in 2008, it’s a factor in his political fortunes nonetheless. It poisons some of his opponents, pumping them full of a toxic zeal beyond the partisan norm. How else to explain their obsession with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright or the lunatic persistence of the “birthers,” including the Arizona secretary of state, who didn’t drop his threat to keep Obama off the state ballot until Wednesday? Even as he quieted down, Donald Trump piped up, raising questions yet again about where Obama was born, though Trump’s motivations are surely less racist than narcissistic, even entrepreneurial. For him attention is attention and ratings are ratings, no matter how repulsively drummed up.
Life would be so much easier for Americans if the race question would disappear. But it is part of America's DNA. Perhaps it will always be so. On the other hand, it is part of the theme of hope and change which Obama ran on in 2008:
He still personifies the hope, to borrow a noun that he has used, that we really might evolve into the colorblind, fair-minded country that many of us want. His own saga taps into the larger story of this country’s fitful, unfinished progress toward its stated ideal of equal opportunity.
And that is the essential problem Mitt Romney faces. He personifies success. But he has not established an emotional connection with voters. Nobody questions Romney's success as a businessman, as a father or a husband. But Obama speaks to America's aspirations. Romney speaks to its bottom line.
This entry is cross posted at The Moderate Voice.