Here's a question for you:
Would a white guy have generated the enthusiasm that Barack Obama has?
Let's say there was a white guy with a similar background and resume to Obama. His father left—Romania, say—to come to Hawaii and marry his teenaged mother. He gave his son a funny name—let's call him Baravky. Little Baravky, raised by a single mother after his father returned to Romania, later moved to Indonesia where he attended Catholic schools. His mother woke him up at 4 a.m. to teach him American history and English, and he eventually returned to Hawaii to attend a prestigious private school on scholarship.
Fast forward a few years, and he's the first—Romanian?—president of Harvard Law Review, after having worked on Chicago's South Side organizing out-of-work Romanians and other poor ethnic peoples.
He writes a book, detailing the angst he's suffered as the son of a poor Romanian immigrant. His descriptions of his father's post-Communist Romania are very moving.
Baravky woos and marries a beautiful tall ethnic woman, who is also a graduate of Harvard. He runs for state senate, and everyone who meets him is impressed by his prodigious abilities and his charisma. "This man will be President one day," savvy Chicagoans proclaim. They also think he speaks English very well for a guy named Baravky Osmochescu.
He plays pick-up basketball, occasionally sinking a three-pointer. A handsome, skinny guy, he is perceived as cool by young people, some of whom have actually read his book.
With a strong wind at his back, and some hapless opponents, he runs for, and wins, a seat in the U.S. Senate. Meanwhile he gives a stirring speech at the Democratic Convention, tossing in a joke about his unusual name. "Only in America could a guy named Baravky be where I am!" We are all impressed, and more people start to think that this young man could one day be president. Maybe after Kerry has a turn.
He opens a Facebook account. He is sworn in to the Senate, with his lovely wife and young daughters at his side. He writes another book, and millions of people google the word "audacity".
Four years after that convention speech, would Baravky send thrills up Chris Mathew's leg? Would he symbolize "hope over fear"? Would he "rekindle the sense of possibility and transformation" in America?
I'm not sure, but I think he would. I think resume transcends race. Not to downplay the role race has played, but I do think America was ready for a new face. And a new, more lyrical name. Plus that "O" rising sun logo is really good.
What do you think?