Several weeks ago I blogged on the notion that the TV series “24” may have made Barack Obama a more acceptable candidate by acclimating America to President David Palmer, a character played by actor Dennis Haysbert. (I might note that my blog entry appeared several weeks before TV Guide offered the same analysis. You heard it here first folks!)
After deeper consideration, sadly, I have to revise my view. In “24” race was never mentioned. The only reason we knew Palmer was African-American was by looking at him. No one ever brought up racial issues with him. He never self-identified. It was treated as a simple matter of fact. In that way, “24” was not prescient. The Obama/Clinton contest is immersed in race. On every primary and caucus night we analyze for whom whites voted and for whom blacks voted. We project what the black community will do should Obama not get the nomination. We obsess on his name and what garb he is wearing in various photographs.
I once thought that Barack’s success reflected that America was at last transcending race. We had finally put it aside. But the truth is that only a deeply racist country could spend as much time focusing on race in this campaign as we have.