"The way I see it, the younger generation is much more cool about racial, religious and gender differences than the older generations were. There are a lot of jerks among athletes, but young voters follow sports enough to be familiar with Shaquille O’Neal’s goofy jokes and Tiki Barber’s burning ambition and Dontrelle Willis’s warm smile."
Vecsey's point is that this is a new age where traditional boundaries between white and black, sports and politics, men and women, are being blurred so that cultural differences basically don't mean as much as they once did. Vecsey credits athletes like Tiger Woods and Michael Jordan for generating this new attitude among younger members of the American public.
It's an interesting interpretation. And it's useful, too, as an explanation for the popularity of Stephanie Meyer's Twilight series, of which I have read merely one, New Moon, which was selected in 2007 as the top pick of the Teens Top Ten booklist, sponsored by the Young Adult Library Services Association. New Moon has very few explicit connections to the contemporary world; it is about as insular and isolated as a contemporary novel can be (curiously, exactly opposite the other vampire novel that I have read for this project, Blue Bloods, by Melissa De La Cruz). But one thing you can say about this novel is that it articulates very well the blurring of cultural boundaries that Obama's campaign also evokes, and that Vecsey identifies as a defining characteristic of the contemporary age.