For several months after last November, the American media raved about Barack Obama’s achievement in becoming the first African-American president of the United States. I didn’t—and couldn’t—join in the jubilation, for several reasons.
First, it had always seemed to me obvious that we would have a black president someday. When I was in junior-high school I had three excellent and witty black teachers (for geography, science, and math), any of whom I would rather be governed by than by any politician I know of. It was just a matter of time. Colin Powell, perhaps, could have been elected a decade or so before Obama.
Second, 2008 was the Democrats’ year. After eight mighty long years of George W. Bush, the country was sick and tired of the Republicans. Even the grand imperial wizard of the Ku Klux Klan might have preferred a sharp young black candidate to a nutty and fanatical old white guy like John McCain, for whom one misguided war in the Middle East wasn’t enough.
Third, as a friend of mine points out, parties that lead their countries into war usually do badly in the next election. Think of Winston Churchill in 1945, LBJ in 1968.
America has been congratulating herself a little too much on the last presidential election. Racial prejudices and loyalties have hardly evaporated: Blacks voted almost unanimously for the black candidate. ...