It began shortly after David Axelrod and other Obama campaign advisers viewed a closed showing of the old Woody Allen movie, Zelig. They were seen emerging from the showing and a strategy session that followed with smiles of deep satisfaction on their faces. The next day, in passing, Obama remarked that his daughters were Black because his wife is. That struck some as odd, and equally odd was the fact that he appeared before klieg lights that were almost blindingly bright.
At the same time, Obama took another swipe at Black men for being the source of problems of Black youth. Drugs were not mentioned nor the grinding poverty of the urban ghetto nor the run down schools nor the high incarceration rate. For this Obama received some especially sharp criticism. But he quickly went on to support the death penalty for “heinous crimes,” supported the Supreme Court decision against gun control, voted to fund the Iraq war (again) and supported FISA-sanctioned.
Then one Saturday he abruptly cancelled an event, and emerged the next day to explain. That was the first time he wore the yarmulke. With Joe Lieberman at his side, he announced that he had converted to Judaism, because he said his father, whom he thought was Muslim, was actually Jewish. The last few days, he said, had brought him still farther on his voyage of self-discovery. He took the opportunity to repeat the position he had taken earlier that Jerusalem would be the undivided capital of Israel on which the Palestinians should have no claim. A reporter asked timidly, to a few hisses of “racism” from other reporters, whether that wouldn’t make any peace arrangement between the Israelis and Palestinians impossible. Obama said he had thought about that, and he and that he and his rabbi had in fact prayed over it. Obama said that on such an important question he had to defer to a “higher father,” as he put it. Lieberman beamed.
In response to this, there was stirring in many quarters. Many radical Black commentators expressed disgust with Obama, but Maureen Dowd, Tom Friedman and Bob Herbert quickly denounced them as “self-loathing Blacks.” They were not heard from much after that.
There was also movement on the other side. McCain soon stepped forward to announce that some old rumors were true and he had fathered a Black child. Thereupon, he apologized to his wife of many years and also announced he would divorce her. He would marry the mother who, it turned out, was Oprah Winfrey. Winfrey appeared at his side the next day on her show and switched her endorsement. From then on McCain began to denounce any disagreement with him as racist.
Both campaigns were now thrown into turmoil. It appeared that Obama’s rush to the center had been outdone by McCain. Obama quickly announced his own divorce and his plans to marry the love of his life, his e-mail pal, Scarlett Johansson. He said that although it might hurt his campaign, he had to follow his heart, which is one of his principles, and he was sure that America was adult enough to understand. The next day, Oprah, with Michelle at her side quickly denounced Obama who lost over 50% of the Black vote in polling that very day.
Then came the evening that Bush, accompanied by McCain holding Oprah’s hand and by Obama holding Lieberman’s, announced the bombing of Iran. All were wearing sunglasses because the klieg lights were more blinding than ever. Even the dark suits looked almost white. McCain said he backed the president as did Obama, but Obama went on to declare that the mission would be more quickly accomplished with tactical nuclear weapons. That would make it a “smarter war,” Obama declared and reminded everyone that since 2002 he had proclaimed his dedication to “smart wars.” Bill Kristol announced that McCain had no spine and threw his support to Obama. In a triumph of identity politics, everyone had arrived at the imperial “center.” The pundits were heartened, the war began and the election approached.