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August 05, 2008

Inexperienced, Skinny Kid with a Funny Name Plays with Racial Fire, Gets Burned

Obama and his partisans seem to be determined to lose the race.

Obama has consistently played the race card when it suited his current political needs. As is often the case, a spurious claim of racism is made to stop all debate on a legitimate issue or to halt a legitimate inquiry. The tactic has a long and bad pedigree. O.J. Simpson's lawyers postulated a 50+ man conspiracy by the White Man, hatched within minutes of the discovery of a murder, to frame the innocent Simpson because he was black. Al Sharpton responded to a delinquent tax charge -- he owed $1.5 million in unpaid taxes, interest, and penalties -- by suggesting the White Man just wanted to keep him down:

"Whatever retaliation they do on me, we never stop," [Sharpton] told the AP. "I think that that is why they try to intimidate us."

And of course Obama attempted, mostly successfully, to stop further debate about his close association with the incorrigible racist and paranoid Jeremiah Wright by wrapping himself in the flag of racial grievance. His supposed call for a Great National Dialogue on Race was of course nothing of the sort. He wanted to end the Great National Dialogue that was just beginning -- and hurting him politically -- by claiming, essentially, that "everyone (who's black) does it" and the White Man had no business asking questions about such matters.

He further maligned the Clintons by claiming, almost always through his political surrogates and media allies, that just about every attack on him was rooted in racism. Hillary's 3 am ad? A stealth appeal to racist sentiment by featuring a little white girl in bed (and you know what that means). Hillary's charge that Obama hadn't done anything in his political career except give a 2002 speech? A racist claim playing on... not really sure, but definitely racist. Somehow. Hillary's claim that Obama was inexperienced? Of course she was pulling a page from the old book of racial stereotypes that when black men mount very successful campaigns for the office of President of the United States, they do so too early in their careers.

The KKK is always on about that last one. Why, it's like reading a Faulkner novel. I can almost smell the scent of magnolias and miscegenation in the sweaty air. It's so classic.

And now, facing a bad political week and a barrage of negative ads from McCain that have been called dumb by some but which seem fairly effective, Obama claims that it's all about racism. Negative ads are, it seems, inherently racist, at least as they might apply to Barack Obama.

McCain rightly counterattacked on this point, more forcefully and effectively than the maladroit Hillary campaign had managed. (To be fair, Hillary was running in a Democratic primary in which it was forbidden to even question the legitimacy of such charges).

And the Obama campaign, and especially his media allies, freaked out. McCain wasn't playing fair. The intent of the racism charge was merely to get McCain and the media to stop talking about Obama's liabilities and weaknesses and to stop running and discussing his surprisingly effective ads. The intent was very much not to actually begin discussing race and racism, which Obama views as detrimental to his message, image, and political fortunes.

Obama's people actually claimed that the McCain camp was guilty of racism in defending itself against charges of racism. The McCain camp, it was asserted, addressed the charge of racism "too eagerly," that is to say, they were suspiciously, perniciously quick and forceful in their defenses of themselves. The very fact that they had taken Obama's charge of racism seriously and rejected it forcefully was in itself simply further proof that they wished to demonize Obama based upon his race.

After all, if they weren't racist, they would let Obama get away with it. They would let his charge of racism -- the singlemost most toxic charge one can level against someone, short of actual criminality -- slide, only making a weak and defensive demurral that actually suggested that maybe they had something to hide after all. And they would definitely stop the negative ads and attacks that Obama had found harmful in the first place.

The McCain camp wisely and properly refused Obama's insistence that not only was he permitted to play the race card when it suited him, but his further insistence that Obama be permitted to dictate the nature, intensity, and effectiveness this defense as well. To not concede this Obama was itself, ipso facto, racism, because by defending oneself vigorously against racism, one naturally increased discussion of race and racism, which hurts Obama (the Great National Debate on Race can only be had when Obama seeks to avoid more personal and more problematic charges), and anything that hurts Obama is racist, because of course only racism can explain why these conservative Republicans should choose to oppose a liberal Democratic political candidate.

Of course Obama could have avoided this subject entirely by not crying racism when it suited him. The entire topic was always within his power to subtract from the campaign completely. But Obama feels that as a black man, he has the right to inject a carefully-calibrated bit of race into the campaign at times and places of his choosing, and to deny him this right is racism.

Whether McCain intended it or not, the controversy inevitably implicates the topic of racial paranoia. Does racial paranoia infect Obama's judgment? Does it shape his thinking? Does he actually imagine that people oppose his left-liberal candidacy only because he's black? Did he not happen to notice that John Kerry and Al Gore were as white as a Klansman's robes and yet they, too, were called "haughty" or "arrogant" or dangerous or too liberal and so forth?

Does Obama actually believe this nonsense, or is he opportunistically and cynically using a toxic and inflammatory charge to advance his personal fortunes? Whatever the answer to that question may be, it reflects very poorly on Obama. And yet his dopiest media surrogates just can't stop themselves from making the most absurdly paranoid racial charges imaginable.

One can't help but wonder if this is a preview of an Obama Administration, in which every policy argument is shut down with paranoid claims of phallic symbols and racial code words and insinuations that Obama wants to know where da white women at. Obama presents himself as being beyond race and only interested in ideas, but whenever his ideas are challenged, it seems, he returns to the easy and intellectually soft-headed comfort of race. Race is his security blanket. If Obama wants to have a discussion about ideas, he should actually begin a Great National Debate on Actual Issues, rather than wrapping himself in his political woobie every time he feels threatened.

Even in America, in which this sort of politically correct stupidity sometimes works in extorting concessions from an opponent, it hardly works all the time. And it's certainly not going to work for a Commander in Chief threatening or cajoling hostile powers. Ahmadinejad is not going to give up on his nuclear ambitions no matter how many times Obama asks him, "This is really just because I'm black, isn't it?"

If Obama's oratory is so soaring, his power of persuasion so potent, and his ideas and candidacy so bold and fresh and new, he might want to see if he can actually win a campaign on those strengths, and put them to the test, rather than relying on the stupid and very old thinking of racial paranoia and opportunistic racial extortion.

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posted by Ace at 04:49 PM

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