Thomas Sowell: It should be earned, not given Old Newness::By Thomas Sowell

Many years ago, a great hitter named Paul Waner was nearing the end of his long career. He entered a ballgame with 2,999 hits — one hit away from the landmark total of 3,000, which so many hitters want to reach, but which relatively few actually do reach.

Waner hit a ball that the fielder did not handle cleanly but the official scorer called it a hit, making it Waner’s 3,000th. Paul Waner then sent word to the official scorer that he did not want that questionable hit to be the one that put him over the top.

The official scorer reversed himself and called it an error. Later Paul Waner got a clean hit for number 3,000.

What reminded me of this is the great fervor that many seem to feel over the prospect of the first black President of the United States.

No doubt it is only a matter of time before there is a black president, just as it was only a matter of time before Paul Waner got his 3,000th hit. The issue is whether we want to reach that landmark so badly that we are willing to overlook how questionably that landmark is reached.

I’m a sucker for a good baseball analogy, especially when it works as it does here. We shouldn’t obsess ourselves with getting “the first black President” (or woman President for that matter); rather, we should focus ourselves on getting the best president we can at all times. Just like Paul Waner wanting to earn his 3000th hit, the first black President should be someone capable and qualified. Obama seems to fail on both accounts.

We had a similar situation in Wilmington last decade. Jim Sills was the first black mayor of Wilmington and that seemed to put him beyond reproach in many people’s eyes. Meanwhile, his administration was spending like crazy, destroying the tax base, handcuffing police among lots of other damage he did to Wilmington, that we’re still trying to fix and recover from. But he was untouchable in many eyes due to his status as “the first black mayor.”

Electing on identity politics alone, as Obama’s and Hillary’s supporters often seem to be pushing, can be very damaging if the wrong person is being elected due to their identity. Wilmington’s past shows that, and it’s lesson the entire nation shouldn’t be forced to learn.