Saturday, October 04, 2008

Race Cards: OJ, Obama and Ifill

OJ Simpson is going to prison and Barack Obama seems to be headed for the White House after a brief to-do this week about Gwen Ifill's role as moderator for the VP debate because of her upcoming book about the arc of black politics from the civil rights struggles of the 1960s to the present.

Unlike Sarah Palin, who has been invisible on the Sunday morning talk shows, Ifill will be on Meet the Press tomorrow morning with Tom Brokaw, who is old enough to remember the times she is writing about.

Simpson's conviction on charges of kidnapping and armed robbery adds an exclamation point to a milestone between then and now, coming exactly 13 years to the day after Johnnie Cochran played what he called "the race card" to persuade a mostly African-American jury to acquit the former football star/actor of killing his white wife and a young white man.

In the past half century, racism has morphed from an open wound in the body politic into the mostly unspoken X factor in this year's election. With Obama now holding a solid lead in the polls, the haunting question is how many Americans who would never admit it openly will vote against him because of his race.

Time has caught up the criminality of Simpson in another century, but how much will Barack Obama be punished next month for the offense of being African-American?

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