Tokenism in Illinois

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Whatever else may be true of the Republicans' choice of Alan Keyes for the Senate race in Illinois (and his acceptance of it) and whether it's carpetbagging or tokenism, this Thomas Sowell quote about the two parties and how they've treated their candidates in this race seems dead right:

While Democrats are quick to accuse Republicans of tokenism whenever they put someone black in any prominent position, it is hard to imagine that an obscure member of the Illinois legislature would have been featured at a national convention if he were white.

He goes on to argue that Obama's public face in this campaign is at odds with his record and some passionate speeches he's made in the past. When I commented on this in passing a while back, Wink called me on it for not praising him for his moderate message at the convention. I indeed liked about half of what he was saying at the convention, and the next day I put it up on the board for my students to show them that it isn't just black conservatives that say this sort of thing. It's internal criticism within black America, and one liberal black entertainer (Bill Cosby) and one up-and-coming black Democratic politician have been saying it. I do appreciate that. It not only shows that the claims of self-hating racism against those who say such things and are conservative are idiotic unless the people saying them also say them about these guys (which I know some do, at least about Cosby), but these are people who will more easily be listened to. So I do appreciate that he's saying these things. My problem is that I see his whole record as being at odds with the conservative-sounding parts of his message in that convention speech. That's why I have really mixed feelings about him, and as cranky and idiosyncratic as Alan Keyes is I'm sure I'd vote for him over Obama.

His final complaint worries me, though. He fears that people won't see the clear choice on issues in this race and in others, including the presidential election, and just vote according to image and hype. That's the problem with a media-driven election, and this country seems to want those more than an issue-driven election. That's scarier than any of the rest of the issues he raises.

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