“Is Obama Black Enough?”
—Ta-Nehisi Paul Coates, Time, Feb. 1, 2007
“Barack Obama would be the great black hope in the next presidential race—if he were actually black.”
—Debra J. Dickerson, Salon, Jan. 22, 2007
At first, I was quite enthusiastic about Senator Chris Dodd’s bid for the 2008 presidential election. He seems like a good man. Someone I could look up to. Someone who has taken a firm stance on issues that are important to me. Plus, he looks like my kind of politician. He sports the traditional silver mane, deftly combed over to feature a clean, deliberate side part. His shirts are pinstriped. He accents with bold power ties. And, most importantly, he represents the great state of Connecticut. This is a great comfort to me. It reassures me. It tells me that Senator Dodd knows where I’m coming from. That he gets me.
And yet, lately, I’ve been concerned. During a recent interview there was something slightly “off.” As he prattled on, his jaw seemed to, well, unclench. That doesn’t sound very white, I thought. John Kerry never sounded like this. And then it hit me: How well do I really know Senator Dodd? Where does he come from? What was he like growing up? What does he look like when he dances at weddings?
Is Chris Dodd white enough?
In the wide-open field for the Democratic nomination, I want to make sure my support goes to the candidate that best understands what I’m all about. And some digging into Senator Dodd’s personal history raises troubling questions. Yes, Senator Dodd talks the talk. But does he walk the walk? Does he truly understand what it means to be white in America? Let’s review.
Christopher J. Dodd was born on May 27, 1944. First, what’s the “J” stand for? Jasper? Jennings? Come clean, Senator. And has he always gone by Christopher? What about Topher? And back in college? Was he Cristoban, then? Has anyone seen his yearbook?
Senator Dodd claims to be descended from Irish-American parents. This is a good start. Not as good as, say, English, or maybe Swedish, but fine nonetheless. And he was born in Connecticut. Willimantic, Connecticut. I don’t know Willimantic, but it doesn’t sound anything like New Canaan.
Like a real white person, I haven’t bothered to keep up my Spanish except for a well-timed “No hablo ingles” to the Greenpeace activists who circle outside the Whole Foods. He graduated from Providence College and later earned a law degree from the University of Louisville School of Law. OK, then. Law school? Check. But not Harvard Law School? I’m sorry, but I can’t get behind that. White people go to Harvard Law School. It’s a fact.
What is concerning me the most, however, is his decision to work for the Peace Corps in the Dominican Republic after graduating college. That’s not white. Not white like me. Where was the decision to backpack through Europe on his parents’ credit card? Or the cushy internship at Goldman Sachs? Since when has building irrigation systems in third-world countries reflected the white experience? I mean, except when Tom Hanks did it in Volunteers.
And he’s fluent in Spanish? Uh, problemo. Sure, I took high school Spanish. But, like a real white person, I haven’t bothered to keep it up except for a well-timed “No hablo ingles” to the Greenpeace activists who circle outside the Whole Foods. Yes, it sounds like the Senator and I are coming from totally different worlds.
Even his time spent in Congress raises a concern. Apparently, he is the chairman of the U.S. Senate Committee on Banking, Housing, and Urban Affairs. What the hell is that? Excuse me, but is there no Committee on Suburban Affairs? One that addresses my kind of problems? The zoning for a new Outback Steakhouse in Westchester isn’t going to regulate itself, you know. How can he speak to a planned community’s needs? Will hedges simply go unmonitored under President Dodd?
Indeed, there are many unanswered questions. What’s his golf handicap? Where does he summer? Is he old money? New money? Does he own a Juice Newton album? I mean, does he even have a drinking problem?
These questions need to be answered before I can support Senator Dodd. Frankly, if he doesn’t understand the white experience, I don’t see it working out.
Spoofs & Satire
Is Chris Dodd White Enough?
The ‘08 Democratic nomination is turning into a hot ticket, and favorites are already being pegged. A concerned voter wonders if the senator from Connecticut has what it takes to be America’s next great white hope.
“Is Obama Black Enough?”