At and after a recent lecture in Toronto Shelby Steele had some interesting things to say about Obama … and others.
… he believes Barack Obama will not win the Democratic nomination for the presidency, in large part because he is caught between pleasing blacks and whites and can never please all Americans at once….
“He needs a self. There’s no self there. I think it comes from a lifetime of being bound up and playing one side, and another side, and never feeling that he had the right to be his own man,” Mr. Steele said in a hotel bar this week. “This is the tragedy, certainly, of the black intellectual class in America. They don’t think they have the right to be individuals, so they’re all just predictable, victim-focused, old line. It’s a generation that’s failed to really take us further. Obama is a part of that. There’s nobody there.”
He argues blacks in America typically wear one of two “masks”: They are either challengers or bargainers. Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson are challengers: Such blacks assume whites are racist until they prove otherwise. Bargainers, on the other hand, make a deal with whites by not rubbing their faces in a history of racism — think of Louis Armstrong or Oprah, he says.
Mr. Obama is an archetypal bargainer, says Mr. Steele, whose forthcoming book on the Democratic contender, A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can’t Win, will be released in time for the primaries.
“The question that hovers over Obama to this day: Is he really black enough? If white people like you, it’s very likely you’re not black enough. Black people are very suspicious of that. To prove himself to black people, he has to be a challenger,” Mr. Steele says.
“White America loves him because they think he’s a bargainer. And so if he goes with whites, blacks don’t like him and say he’s not black enough. If he goes with blacks, whites say, ‘He’s not the guy we thought he was.’ So he’s a bound man.
“I see him almost as a Promethean figure, someone who might have a gift to give us, but is so bound that he’s unable to do that.”