The Too Black, Too White Presidency

Brent Staples of the New York Times reviews Randall Kennedy's new book about how candidate Obama had to reassure voters of all colors.

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President Barack Obama (Getty Images)

In the Sunday Book Review, New York Times journalist and author Brent Staples delves into a new book by Randall Kennedy about the racial politics surrounding Barack Obama's historic run for president.

Every campaign enlists its own meta-language. As Randall Kennedy reminds us in his provocative and richly insightful new book, "The Persistence of the Color Line: Racial Politics and the Obama Presidency," the Obama forces disseminated several messages intended to soothe the racially freighted fears of the white electorate. On one channel, they reassured voters that he was not an alien, but a normal American patriot. They also made clear that he was a "safe," conciliatory black man who would never raise his voice in anger or make common cause with people, living or dead, who used race as a platform for grievance. On yet another wavelength, the candidate proffered his bona fides as a black man to ­African-Americans who were initially wary of his unusual upbringing, his white family ties and his predominantly white political support ...

Read Brent Staples' entire review at the New York Times Sunday Book Review.

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