02 August 2008

Racism Reasserts its Role in the Campaign (sigh)

Two points:

1. Yes, the McCain’s latest ad campaign, featuring Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, is juvenile at best. However, childishness is not the same as racism. Come on people--how can you compare this to the ads aimed at Harold Ford, which clearly played on fears of miscenegation? Let's recall that, in the Harold Ford ad, the young woman winked at the camera and said "Harold, call me!" In the McCain ad, a voiceover says, "He's the biggest celebrity in the world, but is he ready to lead?" The ad argues that Obama might be world famous, but he lacks substance. Frankly, I'm disturbed by the reaction that suggests that because a pair of young white women appear in an ad with Obama there's an immediate sexual, and racist, subtext.

2. No, Obama was not playing the race card in saying that his opponents would try to instill fear in the American public by playing up on Obama’s name, appearance, and experience. It's the truth. He's got a"funny" name, he's young, and he's only been in the Senate for a few years. Yes, that he's bi-racial plays into it, but I'm glad he drew attention to that: the media--especially new media--is rife with questionable statements about Obama and race, and it is being used against him (try Googling "Obama" and "white"). Does acknowledging it mean that he's playing the race card? No. Additionally, he's made this exact same statement in the past, but no-one has ever claimed that he's dealing the race card before. Why not?

All in all, I think that the people who are trying to insert race into this issue are out of their minds. This truly is a case of the media inventing a problem. Now that it's "out there," watch them run with it—you know they’ve been waiting to do it.

On another note, I would suggest that the McCain campaign cool it with the “kitchen sink” strategy (and recall how well that worked out earlier this year). You guys are making yourselves look foolish. You’ve got ideas, policies, and plans. Hit Obama with that. Otherwise, you just look like you’re on the defense--and a petulant defense at that. Also, please recall that much of the American public likes John McCain. Play to that rather than putting Obama in the position McCain was in during the 2000 race.

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