John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and the Politics of Ethnic Incorporation and Avoidance

SUNY Press
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Political analysts and journalists often draw analogies between John F. Kennedy, the first Catholic Irish president, and Barack Obama, the first African American president. Their election to the nation’s highest office was historic, but for reasons not fully appreciated. In John F. Kennedy, Barack Obama, and the Politics of Ethnic Incorporation and Avoidance, Robert C. Smith provides a fascinating comparison of the challenges both men faced in their bid for the presidency, while at the same time providing comparative histories of the Catholic Irish and African American struggles to overcome racial and religious subordination in America. Kennedy’s Catholicism was an explicit issue in the 1960 election, and once elected he was extremely careful to avoid appearing either “too Irish” or “too Catholic.” While Obama’s race was not an explicit issue in the 2008 election, he was just as careful to avoid appearing “too black.” Paradoxically religion—thanks to rumors and lies about whether Obama was a Muslim—became a substitute for race, allowing Republican strategists to “otherize” Obama by raising the issue of religion in the context of national security and terrorism.
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About the author

Robert C. Smith is Professor of Political Science at San Francisco State University. He is the author of several books, including Conservatism and Racism, and Why in America They Are the Same; African American Leadership (with Ronald W. Walters); We Have No Leaders: African Americans in the Post-Civil Rights Era; Racism in the Post-Civil Rights Era: Now You See It, Now You Don't; and Race, Class, and Culture: A Study in Afro-American Mass Opinion (with Richard Seltzer), all published by SUNY Press.

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Additional Information

Publisher
SUNY Press
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Published on
Feb 19, 2013
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Pages
266
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ISBN
9781438445618
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Language
English
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Genres
Biography & Autobiography / Presidents & Heads of State
History / United States / General
Political Science / Political Process / Campaigns & Elections
Political Science / Political Process / Elections
Political Science / Political Process / General
Political Science / Political Process / Leadership
Religion / Christianity / Catholic
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural
Social Science / Anthropology / Cultural & Social
Social Science / Ethnic Studies / African American Studies
Social Science / Minority Studies
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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Robert C. Smith
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New to the Eighth Edition

A new co-author, Sherri L. Wallace, is renowned for her teaching, scholarship, and participation in APSA’s American government textbook assessment for coverage of race, ethnicity, and gender. She is the perfect addition following an election year that included female presidential candidates as well as candidates of color and issues focusing on racial tension and inequality.

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Written by two preeminent scholars of the subject, this book provides a panoramic view of the theory, research, and praxis of African American leadership. Walters and Smith offer a great deal to students of black leadership, as well as important strategy and policy recommendations for black leaders.

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 Combines history and biography to interpret the last half century of black politics in America as represented in the life and work of a pivotal African American public intellectual.

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“Organizing Ron’s biography around the evolution of the black struggle is a really great and appropriate idea; the struggle and Ron were one.” — Mack H. Jones, author of Knowledge, Power, and Black Politics: Collected Essays
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