Both former Democratic U.S. Rep. Artur Davis of Alabama (now Virginia) and even Democratic former Virginia Gov. Doug Wilder have been all over the news in the past couple of days blasting Joe Biden and the Obama campaign for racial divisiveness. Now Davis, long one of my favorite politicians even when he was a bit left of center, has added a sustained and well-developed argument in writing to his already-excellent TV interviews. At NRO today, he writes:
The transcendent moment of Obama’s triumph can’t be diminished. But one would have to be blinkered to deny that Obama’s race in 2008 likely empowered him much more than it weakened him — or to assume that Obama’s strategists and their acolytes in the press don’t recognize the power of recapturing race as both an offensive and a defensive weapon….
Biden brought this rawness to a place the Obama campaign and its allies have spent much time cultivating this year. It is visible in David Axelrod’s breathless assertions about a decidedly innocent, non-political moment: a small black child touching Obama’s head in an Oval Office photo-op. It is visible in Eric Holder’s deployment of the Justice Department to a series of battles over state voter-ID laws, and in the New York Times’ editorial-page crusade against all manner of alleged race-baiting by Republicans. (Including one writer’s remarkable, if side-splitting, assertion that Mitt Romney’s blandness is a calculated ploy to invoke memories of a Fifties-era, pre-multicultural America. Who knew?) It is an unmistakable, unapologetic argument that to defeat Obama is to suspend progress on race.
Then, this one-two punch:
Of course, there are different kinds of progress. There is the inconvenient fact that Obama has governed while black unemployment and the level of child hunger in the black community have risen to the highest rates in the modern era, and while educational achievement among African Americans continues to bottom out at appalling levels. This record is one that the chairman of the Congressional Black Caucus said last summer would lead blacks to march outside the White House if it had a different occupant….Interesting that the Sixties-era figure whom the Obama reelect campaign conjures up is neither a Kennedy nor a King but that great hidden-hand stone thrower, Richard Nixon.
Davis was a national co-chair of Obama’s campaign in 2008, and was the very first elected official outside of Illinois to endorse him for president. But he soon became disillusioned, and he opposed Obamacare, and he has been a stalwart supporter of voter ID laws. More power to him.