Much though I like and respect the chap, isn’t Jonathan Freedland slightly overstating the case? The headline to his Guardian article read: “If Obama can’t defeat the Republican headbangers our planet is doomed.” Later in the piece, Jonny admitted that some might see this assertion as “hyperbolic” or “deranged”. Maybe. My definition of it is high-camp leftist infantilism, for what it’s worth. Freedland’s point was that if Obama can’t push through a few harmless changes to US healthcare without being branded as “an amalgam of Stalin, Hitler and Big Brother” (sic), then what chance does he have of breathing life into Kyoto? Ergo, all the ice will melt, the polar bears will die, the sky will fall in and we will burn or drown.
Elsewhere, Jimmy Carter has blamed Obama’s problems upon the fact that he is black and a lot of Americans are racist; this has been the mantra for most of the left – the opposition to Obama is a consequence not of mistrust of his policies, but mistrust of his skin colour. I don’t doubt that a small minority of those who dislike Obama feel that way because he is black. But it seems to me incontestable that Obama was elected not in spite of being black, but precisely because he was black. The election became, in the end, a sort of America-feel-good-about-itself telethon, with that clever little Bob the Builder rhetoric of Can we do it, yes we can! Never in a million years would a white candidate with Obama’s policies become president – and I speak as a McGovern Democrat who thinks, on the whole, that Obama doesn’t go far enough. The hysteria about race, then, strikes me as being hypocritical and beside the point.