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My June 2008 Reflections on How President Barack Obama Would be Absurdly Red- (and Black-) Baited


I thought I would paste in the following two paragraphs (below) from the June 2008 preface to my book Barack Obama and the Future of American Politics. They seem rather germane to current events and to the difficulty involved in trying to criticize the new adminsitration from the Left in a nation whose dominant political culture remains dangerously tilted to the right. Here they are:

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I added the finishing touches in the writing of this manuscript in early June of 2008, as Hillary Clinton stepped down from her quest for the Democratic nomination and it became clear that Obama would be running as the Democratic presidential candidate against John McCain in November. Most of the research for this book was conducted between the publication of Obama’s book The Audacity of Hope (which marked the de facto beginning of his presidential campaign) and late April of 2008. By the time this volume hits the bookshelves, I am aware, its portrayal of Obama as a relatively conservative, capitalism-/corporate-friendly, racially conciliatory, and Empire-friendly “centrist” will strike some readers as counter-intuitive. The nation’s still-potent right-wing Republican attack machine will already be regularly and unreasonably assailing Obama as a “far left” candidate, a “socialist,” a “black nationalist,” and a dangerous “anti-American” enemy of God, Country, the Family, and Apple Pie! Obama will also be subjected to no small measure of ugly racial bigotry. The racial fears and bias and toxic color prejudice – already evident across the Internet as I draft this preface in early June of 2008 – that his presidential candidacy will arouse will sometimes make it seem like the Obama phenomenon represents a real and substantive challenge to racial hierarchy in the U.S.

These unpleasant facts will make it more difficult than it would be otherwise to understand the Left critique of “the Obama phenomenon” that comes in the chapters that follow. It will also compel many of this book’s readers and in fact the book’s author to defend Obama against ridiculous, reactionary, and racist assaults. I nonetheless stand behind the often unsympathetic portrayal presented here, claming my right to walk (criticize Obama from a left-democratic perspective) and chew gum (defend him against racial bigotry and outrageous rightist misrepresentation and abuse) at one and the same time….
 

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