One of the biggest myths of the Presidential campaign is that the only people questioning Barack Obama’s negritude, or “blackness” as it is commonly referred to, are also black.

This background may be what some people (mainly blacks) have meant when they asked the regrettable question of whether Obama is “black enough” to earn their votes. But Obama has always been black enough for his elite white enthusiasts, who would never presume to judge an African American’s racial authenticity — indeed, are all too happy to have such a question be kept, by prevailing norms, off limits to them.

Someone forgot to tell Tucker Carlson that being “elite” and “white”, such a question was “off limits.” Not too long ago, he hosted an all-white panel of pundits to assess Obama’s racial authenticity.

On the August 8 edition of MSNBC’s Tucker, an all-white group discussed an upcoming forum at a National Association of Black Journalists convention that will address, according to the convention program — as quoted by The Washington Post — the question Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) “cannot seem to shake — is he black enough? Is this an unfair question? What is the measure of blackness and who gets to decide?” Host Tucker Carlson asked A.B. Stoddard, associate editor of The Hill, and Newsweek senior editor Jonathan Alter: “What exactly do people mean when they talk about Obama’s quote, “blackness”? … I’m not even sure what that question means. I know that it makes me uncomfortable and it strikes me as unfair, but what does it mean?” Carlson, who is white, devoted a full segment of his show — more than six minutes — to the issue of Obama’s racial identity and the effect of stereotypes on his bid for the presidency with Stoddard and Alter, two white journalists.

This preceded a series of bizarre statements from Tucker directed at Obama, including speculation about the Senator’s sex life.

Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh has gone as far as taking credit for Obama “getting blacker,” only shortly after advising the Senator to “renounce his race” and “be white”.

Then there was Pat Buchanan weighing in on the Senator’s negritude, stating:

“[i]t is quite apparent” Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) “is not a street fighter, and he doesn’t have the eye of the tiger.” Buchanan further said that Obama is “up there, sort of holding forth,” adding, “I mean, he’s not what you would expect from a black guy from the South Side of Chicago. He’s something, as [NBC News political director] Tuck [Chodd] says, you’d expect in a Harvard seminar for undergraduates or something like that.”

I mean, I know Chi-Town has kind of a reputation, but I have to confess I have yet to meet anyone, black or white, who has presented themselves to me as a “street fighter,” with “the eye of the tiger”. Maybe I should move to Philadelphia, but I have a feeling there’s still a chance my life would still be complete otherwise.

This week in Slate, Christopher Hitchens demanded to know why were all referring to Obama as black.

Isn’t there something pathetic and embarrassing about this emphasis on shade? And why is a man with a white mother considered to be “black,” anyway? Is it for this that we fought so hard to get over Plessy v. Ferguson?

Hitchens’ statement begs the question, who is this “we” he is talking about? I don’t know either. From what I can tell, Hitchens appears to have sat out the Civil Rights movement in the United States. Which makes sense, in 1965, he was only 16 years old. From that paragraph you might assume Hitchens spent the 60s freedom riding through the American South, registering black voters and narrowly dodging the Klan.

Peter Beinart also weighed in on the subject, with considerably more complexity than those mentioned above. His position as a “white elite” seemed not to be a deterrent.

At any rate, it seems like there are few “white elites” who see the question of Obama’s blackness as “off limits.” Quite to the contrary, they seem to consider themselves accomplished experts on who’s black, and who isn’t.

It can hardly be said that “only blacks” are discussing whether or not Obama is “black enough,” and even then, (with some notable exceptions) the conversation is more about his political priorities than his appearance, speech, mannerisms, or ancestry.

The only real shots at Obama’s “blackness” from black figures have come occasionally, from rivals’ surrogates like Andrew Young but mostly from Right wing shills like Shelby Steele, who is somehow unable to see the tragic, tragic irony in his accusing Obama of being ‘white’ both in the context of his own work and racial heritage.

Indeed, there is little conflict in the black community as to whether Obama is “authentically” black, because most of us are tired of arguing about what that actually means. The real question is whether he represents black interests better than Hillary Clinton or John Edwards, and whether or not as a black candidate, he has a chance of winning.

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