- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 11, 2009

Color commentary

Experts wonder: When President-elect Barack Obama gets to the White House, does it mean that America has entered a post-racial era?

Some say first lady-in-waiting Michelle Obama is key.

“A black first lady is an even more revolutionary development than a black president,” says Paul C. Taylor, associate professor and chairman of the philosophy department at Temple University.

“The first lady is, as her title suggests, a national icon for femininity, for good or for ill. But the American public’s ideas about black women are much more likely to be shaped by Beyonce than by California congresswoman Barbara Lee,” Mr. Taylor says. “The ascension of Michelle Obama to the role of America’s first lady is a real cultural shift.”

History professor David Farber has another take.

“We’re all wondering if we are living through another Camelot and we can only hope that this era turns out better. Our problems are not those of the ‘60s; the solutions will be harder to find,” he notes.

“If all of the assumptions that you had grown up with and the information on which they’re based disappears, your system of privilege disappears as well. Once this post-racial world comes — if it does — there are going to be lots of people, including poor whites, who will have to adjust,” observes Thaddeus Mathis, professor emeritus and a former associate dean of Temple’s School of Social Administration.

Spirited response

Here we go again. As with the 2008 presidential election, enterprising types have concocted a spate of inauguration-themed cocktails for the big moment, which is just nine days away. Among them:

The Dream (bourbon, apple cider, honey, caramel, cinnamon stick), served at TenPenh, Arcadia, DC Coast, Ceiba and Passion Fish restaurants.

The American Dream (pomegranate liqueur, black cherry rum, cherry juice, blueberry garnish) and Air Force One (Hypnotiq liqueur, citrus vodka, lemon-lime soda, lemon twist), at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel.

El Presidente of Change (white rum, curacao, dry vermouth, grenadine, pear slice), a variation on the classic Cuban cocktail by Los Angeles mixologist Natalie Bovis-Nelsen.

Clack, clack, clack

There are those among us who are not impressed with e-mails, Blackberrys, Twitter and all the other instant but unruly communiques of the modern age. What happened to good handwriting, they wonder? And where is the sedate and civilized clack of a good typewriter, tapping out deep thoughts or clever missives?

The handwriting we can’t help you with. The typewriter? You can still get one. Here’s a brand new Olivetti Manual Typewriter, which “types at a pace you can think,” the manufacturer notes. Yes, there is the fibrous red and black ribbon — and “no electronic parts to fail or malfunction.”

Imagine that.

And imagine arriving in Starbucks for a Venti Vanilla Latte, toting a typewriter. A cultural moment, indeed. Maybe they’ll throw you out.

This one is $199 from our kindly friends at the Vermont Country Store, who will throw in two extra ribbons for $9.90. For information, visit them online - www.vermontcountrystore.com, call 802/362-8460 or write P.O. Box 6993, Rutland, Vt., 05702-6999.

Days of yore

Francis Salvador, the first Jew to hold an elected office in the Americas, took his seat on the South Carolina Provincial Congress on this day in 1775. Eight months later he became the first recorded Jewish soldier to die in America’s war of independence, killed by Cherokees and Loyalists near the present-day town of Seneca at the age of 29.

President Theodore Roosevelt designated the Grand Canyon a national monument on this day in 1908.

Today also marks the anniversary of President Reagan’s farewell address to the nation in 1989 after eight years in office.

“‘We the people’ are free. This belief has been the underlying basis for everything I’ve tried to do these past eight years,” Mr. Reagan said, later noting, “All great change in America begins at the dinner table. So, tomorrow night in the kitchen I hope the talking begins.”

Quotes of note

“I’m sure glad he’s coming home.” - Former President George H.W. Bush on President Bush, to Fox News.

“One sign the liberal news media live in a plastic Manhattan bubble is their undying ardor for the Kennedy Myth.” - Brent Bozell, founder of the Media Research Center.

“Barack Obama’s post-baby boom approach to work wear - worn with hip-hop generation self-assurance - could transform how Americans view presidential fashion in the 21st century.” - Halimah Abdullah, McClatchey Newspapers.

By the numbers:

Average approval ratings for recent American presidents during their entire time in office:

John Kennedy: 70.1 percent

Dwight Eisenhower: 65 percent

George H.W. Bush: 60.1 percent

Bill Clinton: 55.1 percent

Lyndon B. Johnson: 55.1 percent

Ronald Reagan: 52.8 percent

George W. Bush: 49.4 percent

Richard Nixon: 49.1 percent

Gerald Ford: 47.2 percent

Jimmy Carter: 45.5 percent

Harry Truman: 45.4 percent

Source: Gallup Polls

• Contact Jennifer Harper at jharper@washingtontimes.com or 202/636-3085.

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