I attended a Brandeis University alumni event at the Old State House yesterday on the topic of “The Obama Phenomenon.” It’s interesting to see that Brandeis is turning to a form of “the power breakfast” to raise its profile in the Boston scene. Former Boston Globe reporter Charles Radin is leading the effort.
Professor Ibrahim Sundiata made insightful comments, which I used for my New York Sun column, about what an Obama election would mean in Africa and the Middle East, a subject I have dealt with previously: “I think that people paint a too rosy picture of Obama being the world, that in the Muslim world, being the son of an ex-Muslim is apostasy and it is a very serious crime.”
“In a place like Kenya, where he is from, there is currently a battle going on over this election. If Obama were to go to Kenya today and say ‘I as a black person of Kenyan descent say stop fighting’ it probably wouldn’t happen. People would say ‘you are also a Luo and not a Kikuyu.’ He would have no more success in certain African conflicts as Condi Rice,” he said.
In a later interview, Mr. Sundiata reiterated his point. “His name is not a panacea. His face is not a panacea,” he told me.
Mingus Ulysses Mapps, a Brandeis political scientis, also presented important demographic data. Mapps demonstrated that the key swing group in today’s primaries will be white men, an ironic finding given the focus Democratic pollsters often put on other key demographics.