Recently I read this article about the whole Joseph Biden "articulate, clean black man thing" It's not available at the Washington Post anymore, so I can't link to it, but the part that caught my attention was this passage,
It's interesting that Obama's reaction dealt solely with the A-
word. "I didn't take Senator Biden's comments personally, but
obviously they were historically inaccurate," he said in a
statement. "African-American presidential candidates like Jesse
Jackson, Shirley Chisholm, Carol Moseley Braun and Al Sharpton gave a
voice to many important issues through their campaigns, and no one
would call them inarticulate."
The author goes on to say
I realize the word is intended as a compliment, but it's being used
to connote a lot more than the ability to express one's thoughts
clearly. It's being used to say more, even, than "here's a black
person who speaks standard English without a trace of Ebonics."
The word articulate is being used to encompass not just speech but a
whole range of cultural cues -- dress, bearing, education, golf
handicap. It's being used to describe a black person around whom
white people can be comfortable, a black person who not only speaks
white America's language but is fluent in its body language as well.
2008 is going to be interesting because there are so many "token" players this time around. We have "the woman" "the black man" and "the Mexican." In a normal election, we'd be lucky to even have one of them, and they probably wouldn't be a very serious contender. Right now "the woman" and "the black man" are the front runners.
Anyway, as this progresses, it will be interesting to see how these candidates, particularly Obama and Clinton present themselves and try to craft their identities to claim the best advantage. Just like how Pelosi, was, by some newspapers' estimation, attempting to use her gender as to identify herself and her party more strongly as a breath of fresh air.