- The contest for the Democratic presidential nomination between Sens. Hillary Rodham Clinton, a white woman, and Barack Obama, a black man, has scrambled 21st century identity politics, producing startling turns in an election that, whatever its outcome, will make history.
It was former President Bill Clinton who called the racial divide "America's constant curse" in his second inaugural address 11 years ago.
But it was after Bill Clinton injected race into the South Carolina primary last month that African Americans, one of the Democratic Party's most important voting blocs, abandoned his wife's candidacy in droves.
Obama's novelty is not that he is the first black candidate for president, but the first black candidate who is not running as a black candidate. Obama has scrupulously avoided racial stereotyping, yet his race is an obvious element of his appeal that no rival can match.