I am one of the many fans of Shelby Steele. He has an article, "Why Jesse Jackson Hates Obama," in this morning's WSJ that cuts to the quick of why Jesse Jackson (and also Al Sharpton) have been left in the dust by the man who will probably be the next president of the United States. It's a theme that I've touched on myself in this space.
Still, Steele has a peculiarly sympathetic view of old Jesse who, after all, was at least as much a race inciter than a race bonder. It was actually his career, very much like George Wallace who will not be remembered for his contrition but for his vehemence. As for Jackson's contrition, of which Jamie Kirchick made all together too much in his recent posting on the Plank, his transformation into a responsible politician can be measured by his foul verbal assault on the testicles of Barack Obama.
Steele recognizes Obama's great talent, and he has written a book called A Bound Man: Why We Are Excited About Obama and Why He Can't Win. Steele credits Obama with bringing a real cultural phenomenon out of whom many historical goods will flow. But he also demeans the "cultural" appeal of Obama as opposed to his "political" appeal. On this count, Steele faults him for being a "political mess."
So on what does Steele rivet to prove this messiness? Obama, he says, has "flip-flopped." As opposed to John McCain, perhaps? Of course, given the title of his book, Steele has a vested interest in Obama's electoral failure. If he's elected president, the book will go down in history as...well, nothing.