Well, well. Here it is, the weekend that many celebrate the birthday of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The campaigns for president are throwing his name around at almost every stop as if it was magic to attract voters.
There was a very hopeful part of me that thought we would not have the issue of race in this campaign. I know better but I am an optimist.
Even though the democratic debate in Las Vegas was somewhat civil, the bulk of the campaign the last few weeks has been anything but civil. It has been very clear that most voters in the Democratic Party caucuses and primaries to date have not cared about the race issue.
Lilly white Iowa gave Senator Barack Obama a huge boost in the Hawkeye Caucii. New Hampshire followed suit with a strong second place showing. It seems for all of the talk about not looking like America because of our whiteness in Iowa, we didn't have a problem with supporting the junior senator from Illinois.
But the race card has been played over and over again. And personally I am already sick of it. Yes, I know there is 10 more months until the election and it will get worse.
Now I did think there was an implication by Sen. Clinton in NH debate when she said that a woman president would be a "real" difference. After all, she is married to the "first black president" (sic) as we have been told over and over.
So maybe it isn't Clinton herself being blunt but her surrogates are definitely dropping the "race" bomb.
Robert Johnson, the founder of BET (Black Entertainment Television) reminded folks of Sen. Obama's drug use in the hood as a young man and compared Obama to Dr. Prentice, Sidney Poitier's character in "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner". Representative Charlie Rangel added to the fire by saying Obama has said some "absolutely stupid" things. Gee, Charlie, do you think the former first lady has ever done that? Better yet, Charlie, are you "stupid" free? I doubt it.
Hillary tried to explain the issue away by saying she couldn't control the surrogates. Sure. But they can do plenty of damage, while you try to look the other way. All one has to do is look at the 2000 issue with Sen. McCain fathering a child with an African-American woman. Or what about the swift boating of Sen. Kerry during the 2004 campaign? But, back to the race issue.
Another example of raising the race issue was at the "Citizen of the West" honors banquet in Denver this past week. The Master of Ceremonies said this "I have a telegram from the White House (to congratulate this years' winner). They're going to have to change the name of that building if Obama's elected". Gasps could be heard from all over the ballroom, including the head table.
Clinton did heavily imply the race issue when she tried to give overdue credit to the legislators and especially President Johnson when she said the dream of Dr. King could only become reality when there was legislation passed and signed. Yeah, Johnson had a dream. It just doesn't have the same ring.
The Nevada debate seemed to show that the race issue was too tender to bring up in a question and answer session. There was somewhat of a truce but both campaigns seem to be trying to keep it on the front burner without burning themselves. You can't really have it both ways.
But it is there. And it will continue to be there until Obama completes his second term as president or he bows out of the campaign. There will always be someone that will raise the issue. But you would hope it wouldn't be opponents in the campaign.
Maybe it comes down to this. With apologies to Dr. King, I have a dream that the campaign for president (and any other office) will one day become an event that the participants will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.