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Randy Newman Is Dreaming of a White President



    Randy Newman is probably best known for cuddly anthems like “You’ve Got A Friend In Me,” the theme from Toy Story. But on his solo albums, he’s a sardonic, cynical songwriter. In his 1972 song “Political Science” he suggested America get revenge on all the countries that hate us by blowing them up with nuclear weapons. “Sail Away” is about a slave trader who entices Africans to board a ship by promising them that America is a land of ease and plenty.

    Newman has written a song about this year’s presidential election, “I’m Dreaming of a White President,” which parodies the fact that 91.5 percent of Mitt Romney’s supporters are white. It’s a poignant evocation of white nostalgia for the first 232 years of American history, when portraits of George Washington and Abraham Lincoln looked down on every grade school classroom.

        I’m dreaming of a white president/
        Just like the ones we’ve always had/
        A real live white man who knows the score/
        How to handle money or start a war

        I’m dreaming of a white president/
        Someone who we can understand/
        Someone who knows where we’re coming from/
        And that the law of the jungle is not the law of this land

    The fact is, it may be awhile before we have another white president. If President Obama wins a second term, as he looks likely to do, Republicans will be forced to diversify their electoral base. They’ll probably do this by nominating an ethnic candidate for president in 2016. The most likely contenders are Gov. Bobby Jindal of Louisiana, an Indian-American; Gov. Nikki Haley of South Carolina, also an Indian-American; and Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida, a Cuban-American.

    Romney’s advisers have admitted that his campaign is the last stand of the all-white Republican Party. As the nation has become more diverse, the Republican Party has become less so, relying on a core of white conservatives no longer make up a majority of voters. If Romney loses, the Republicans will have lost the popular vote in five of the last six elections. As a Romney advisor told the National Journal of the candidate’s White America strategy, “This is the last time anyone will try to do this.”

    As the video for Newman’s song shows, whites have had a good run in the White House. Besides Washington and Lincoln, whites gave this country Andrew Jackson, William McKinley, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Dwight D. Eisenhower -- men who were not just credits to their race, but credits to America. It’s possible, though, that “George W. Bush” will be answer to the trivia question “Who was the last white man to serve as president?” for a while to come.

    White people just need to get used to it. Hardly anyone remembers the last white man to serve as Secretary of State.    

     This month, Ward Room blogger Edward McClelland’s Young Mr. Obama: Chicago and the Making of a Black President will be available on Kindle for $9.99. Tracing Obama’s career in Chicago from his arrival as a community organizer to his election to the U.S. Senate, Young Mr. Obama tells the story of how a callow, presumptuous young man became a master politician, and of why only Chicago could have produced our first black president.