Last week, I took a lot of heat for my article on "Obama and the Left's Insulting Identity Politics." I asserted that the left was obsessed with racial justice, diversity, and identity politics. That from the DNC's selection of Obama as the primary candidate, to the appointment of Supreme Court Justice Sotomayor, to Obama's own selection of Amanda Simpson, the first transgendered appointee, time and again the left has let identity politics trump merit and used political correctness to stifle dissent.
Considering the first year of the Obama administration, pockmarked by episode after episode of amateurish, unthoughtful, and badly nuanced presidential politics, President Obama's own staff have made the case for me that an identity-based selection process is flawed, as well as pedantic and insulting to the intelligence of the American people. I asserted that Obama might be better suited by an appointment policy based on the merits of the candidates, and not their race or gender. In the ensuing discussion, I admitted that in order to "keep up with the Joneses" on the left, and not appear completely out of touch, the right has engaged in identity politics as well, most notably with the selection of RNC Chair Michael Steele, as well as, in an attempt to share the claim of a "historic presidency" with the Obama candidacy, with the choice of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate in 2008.
The difference however, is that the right isn't a proponent of identity-based government legislation that intrudes on our lives, such as affirmative action and quotas, all of which actually wind up hurting race relations further, while not really solving anything. Meanwhile, the so-called true believers on the left actually practice a much more dishonest form of manipulation, setting race relations further and further back, by making a spectacle of every first "hyphenated-American" this or that, and promoting flawed and divisive legistlation pandering to minorities in an effort increase the size of their tent and get more votes.
While many agreed with my characterization of the choice of Michael Steele, few could admit that Obama has engaged in any identity politics of his own, or that the left as a whole seems to place identity over merit, or that this had anything to do with the selection of Barack Obama as the general election candidate. But a mere week later, Senator Harry Reid has proven my argument correct, having been quoted in the new book Game Change as saying that the country was ready for a black president, particularly one that was "light-skinned" and with no "Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one."