Not so long ago, all eight of the members of Congress being investigated by the Office of Congressional Ethics were black. Now, two powerful black members of the Congressional Black Caucus are on the griddle. There are two entirely appropriate responses. One of them is to wonder if there is something racial going on. Yes, that is reasonable. Dismissals of this line of reasoning as mere “crying racism” are, in this case, hasty. Bloggers blithely listing white people who have fallen into the OCE’s line of sight as disproof of the racism charge are missing the point.
In 2002, Barack Obama was an unknown Illinois state senator with long-shot ambitions of moving from the political backwater of Springfield to the big-time of Washington, D.C. But, before he acted on those ambitions, he wanted to get the blessing of another young, black––and far more famous––Illinois politician, one whom he essentially hoped to leapfrog on his way to the U.S. Senate. And so, one morning that year, Obama had breakfast with U.S. Representative Jesse Jackson Jr.