The political world is aflutter with Barack Obama's announcement of a presidential campaign exploratory committee, the first step in today's highly regulated (to no discernible effect) political campaigns.
We note two ancillary phenomena.
First, as noted by Jim Geraghty of National Review Online's "Hillary Spot," his blog covering all matters of Democrat Party presidential politics, Obama managed to announce his exploratory candidacy without once mentioning either major party. It seems that the enemy of Obama is not the Wascally Wepublicans, at least not yet. It's partisanship itself.
Second, as noted by the indispensable James Taranto, prominent African-American political leaders like Jesse Jackson, Al Sharpton and Harry Belafonte have been remarkably cool to Obama's candidacy.
Of the first, we note that Obama has rightly judged that the country is not ready to embrace or demonize either party. So he takes a swipe at the practice of politics itself. He will run as the un-politician. That's very clever, until one actually has to take a stand on something.
Of the second, we will dispute Taranto's explanation. He says that Jackson and Company resent the popularity that Obama, a man of color, has among pallid Americans, as his popularity proves that America is not as racist as Jackson and Company allow. We think it's more subtle than that.
We think that the issue is that Obama is the first prominent African-American figure in Democrat politics who did not come up through the ranks of the civil rights movement and its aftermath. He has essentially bypassed the history and institutions of blacks in contemporary politics, including its gatekeepers like Jackson, just as he bypassed the experience of most African-Americans as the son of a Kenyan professor and a white American mother, raised in a predominantly white environment without his father's involvement.
Whether such matters matter to African-Americans at large remains to be seen. So, of course, does Obama's staying power as a candidate. We venture the judgment that he is untested on a national stage. As tonight's American Idol premiere will undoubtedly remind us again, it's not easy to pick the winner in the first round.