[Updated and bumped to the top.]
The coverage and analysis in the national media of how Obama’s support is supposedly shaping up in the black community has irked me for weeks. So, I decided to literally send the pundits a memo via my Sun-Times column…
Memo to all national political journalists, columnists, pundits, etc.: Please, get a clue.
Perhaps because I live in and cover the politics of a state which has elected two African-American U.S. senators, a black mayor of our largest city and a black secretary of state who four years ago carried all 102 counties, I find your coverage of the ‘’race issue'’ in the presidential contest to be utterly devoid of insight and context. I’ll try to fill you in.
First, just because a prominent African-American leader endorses Hillary Clinton, that doesn’t mean Barack Obama’s campaign has suffered a mortal wound. It may seem unusual to you that some black leaders aren’t supporting a black candidate, but, take it from me, this happens all the time. […]
Next, you “experts” assume that just because viable, credible black candidates end up winning overwhelming majorities of black votes that polls currently showing Hillary Clinton leading Obama among African Americans are somehow important.
Go read the whole thing for plenty of examples, context and more analysis, then come back here and discuss.
*** UPDATE *** Not all the national coverage is mindless. The Wall Street Journal has a pretty good article on Obama’s time at the Statehouse.
…a lawmaker of lofty, liberal rhetoric who nonetheless pragmatically accepted bipartisan compromises that won over foes — and sometimes left supporters dissatisfied. […]
As for sharp elbows, the scraps for which Mr. Obama is remembered — including near-fisticuffs once on the Senate floor — were with fellow black Democrats, some of whom were resentful of his ambitions and his successes. […]
When the legislature revisited the ethics issue in 2003, Mr. Jones was among those who resisted changes Mr. Obama promoted. “He wouldn’t buck Emil Jones,” Ms. Canary said. The Senate and House agreed to a weaker bill.
The credit that went to Mr. Obama for the racial-profiling and videotaping measures stoked tensions among black colleagues who had sponsored similar proposals only to see Mr. Jones promote his protÃ©gÃ©’s efforts. One was state Sen. Rickey “Hollywood” Hendon, an outspoken Democrat, who once had to be separated from Mr. Obama in the Senate after confronting him for reasons that witnesses don’t recall and Mr. Hendon won’t discuss.
*** UPDATE 2 *** By the way, I was there during that fight with Hendon. I thought this incident looked familiar, but I couldn’t remember the details. It all came back to me when a former PAR intern sent me an e-mail this afternoon reminding me that he was there in the press box with me.
As he remembers it (and I’m pretty sure he’s right), Obama had voted against one of Hendon’s amendments for the South Side. Then Obama spoke in favor of a different amendment for the region. Hendon rose to complain during debate.
Afterwards, the two talked, and Obama wagged his finger in Hendon’s face. Well, Hendon didn’t like that much so he swatted Obama’s hand away. There was a throwdown and then they were separated.