TNR: How Team Obama played the race card

posted at 11:15 am on February 28, 2008 by Allahpundit

An essential companion piece to Karl’s typically excellent refutation of Josh Marshall this morning. Marshall may be a “prestige” blogger but he’s never been above conspiracy-teasing when it suits his ends; accusing McCain of being essentially in cahoots with the “Hussein” demagogues he’s spent the past two days disavowing is further evidence of it, and of TPM’s longstanding eagerness to find racial politics at work even in the most innocuous or well meaning instances. The aim is as clear as it is dishonest — to make McCain morally culpable for every repulsive insinuation leveled by people on his side, whether or not he repudiates it, and even if it comes from someone, like Coulter, who hates McCain.

If you want to see a politician remaining ostentatiously above the fray while winking at cretinous race-baiting by his supporters, look no further than the TNR piece about how deftly the “post-racial” candidate has leveraged ye olde racial playbook these past few months. Wilentz overstates his case — you’ll never convince me an “astute observer” like Billy Jeff didn’t know exactly what he was doing with that Jesse Jackson analogy in South Carolina — but I’ve written before myself about Jesse Jackson Jr’s predictable lowest-common-denominator pandering after New Hampshire and what a bad rap Clinton got on the “fairy tale” comment. Follow the link to see it all put together, bearing in mind that this is just the warm-up act for what’s waiting for the Republicans, of which Marshall’s whine is only the most tender beginning:

As insidious as these tactics are, though, the Obama campaign’s most effective gambits have been far more egregious and dangerous than the hypocritical deployment of deceptive and disingenuous attack ads. To a large degree, the campaign’s strategists turned the primary and caucus race to their advantage when they deliberately, falsely, and successfully portrayed Clinton and her campaign as unscrupulous race-baiters–a campaign-within-the-campaign in which the worked-up flap over the Somali costume photograph is but the latest episode. While promoting Obama as a “post-racial” figure, his campaign has purposefully polluted the contest with a new strain of what historically has been the most toxic poison in American politics…

It may strike some as ironic that the racializing should be coming from a black candidate’s campaign and its supporters. But this is an American presidential campaign–and there is a long history of candidates who are willing to inflame the most deadly passions in our national life in order to get elected. Sadly, it is what Barack Obama and his campaign gurus have been doing for months–with the aid of their media helpers on the news and op-ed pages and on cable television, mocked by “SNL” as in the tank for Obama. They promise to continue until they win the nomination, by any means necessary.

That he managed to pull this off while walking the tightrope of trying to draw black voters from Hillary while also not becoming the “black candidate” the Clintons were ready to frame him as if he succeeded is further proof, if any was needed, of how shrewd a politician he is. Not once that I can think of has the Messiah himself accused anyone of racial politics; when someone needs to put their hand on the shoulder of a black superdelegate who’s wavering and ask him if he’d like to be remembered as the man who thwarted the dreams of his people, the task gets farmed out to Jesse Jackson Jr. Expertly played, particularly in light of the coziness Karl recounts between Obama and that “eccentric” pastor of his.

Exit question: When does Obama pull a McCain and repudiate Dean-o’s comparison between the GOP field and white slaveholders?


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It may strike some as ironic that the racializing should be coming from a black candidate’s campaign and its supporters.

Huh? Am I missing something, or is this frisson over a black guy playing the race card? “Flash: Sun rises in east. Film at eleven.”

Akzed on February 28, 2008 at 11:27 AM

I read this yesterday and found it persuasive. This plus the NAFTA demagoguery shows BHO to be just another hack pol, using dirty tricks and slander to achieve power.

Off topic: terror suspects arrested in Norway and Sweden. Clearly backlash from their occupation of Muslim lands.
http://www.nytimes.com/reuters/world/international-sweden-security.html

Vote Sauron 08 on February 28, 2008 at 11:29 AM

Exit question: When does Obama pull a McCain and repudiate Dean-o’s comparison between the GOP field and white slaveholders?

Right after Jesus levitates through the door of my office and offers me some sashimi.

Blacklake on February 28, 2008 at 11:30 AM

I bet Obama Campaign will be releasing crazy still during the campaign blaming “Republicans” for it..

Chakra Hammer on February 28, 2008 at 11:31 AM

I bet Obama Campaign will be releasing crazy still stuff during the campaign blaming “Republicans” for it..

Chakra Hammer on February 28, 2008 at 11:32 AM

The left is slowly figuring out that once Obambi is scrutinized through November he won’t be electable. They are starting to realize that Hill dog has already been pretty well vetted (hence her high negatives) But its too late now.

GOP holds the White House and picks up some congressional seats! Love it….

tottoritodd on February 28, 2008 at 11:33 AM

The aim is as clear as it is dishonest — to make McCain morally culpable for every repulsive insinuation leveled by people on his side, whether or not he repudiates it, and even if it comes from someone, like Coulter, who hates McCain.

Hotair.com readers or authors, on the other hand, would never do anything similar. Like take a quote from a deranged lunatic on DailyKos and pretend it’s somehow representative of the left group thinking.

freevillage on February 28, 2008 at 11:35 AM

You folks see the news on Drudge? Bambi’s now ahead by 4% in TX according to Rasmussen.

BJ needs to haul some butter ‘n’ jam outta the fridge ‘coz at this point Hitlery’s TOAST.

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 11:35 AM

The left is slowly figuring out that once Obambi is scrutinized through November he won’t be electable. They are starting to realize that Hill dog has already been pretty well vetted (hence her high negatives) But its too late now.

GOP holds the White House and picks up some congressional seats! Love it….

tottoritodd on February 28, 2008 at 11:33 AM

If the “conservative” purists don’t torpedo McCain, I think you could be right.

funky chicken on February 28, 2008 at 11:36 AM

Wait, I thought “Bambi” was supposed to be Hillary?

I’m confused….

funky chicken on February 28, 2008 at 11:38 AM

and there is a long history of candidates who are willing to inflame the most deadly passions in our national life in order to get elected

Deadly Passions huh? I wonder which of the deadly passions he could possibly mean?

upinak on February 28, 2008 at 11:38 AM

Funky:

Oh BAH Mah

Oh BAM Bi

Bambi.

Get it?

I’m just waiting for somebody to start calling him
“Bam Bam”.

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 11:39 AM

The ‘”conservative” purists’ would be a hell of a lot less likely to do such a thing if McCain’s supporters weren’t so relentlessly vile about it.

S. Weasel on February 28, 2008 at 11:40 AM

BTW, is a video of the SNL debate spoof somewhere? Everywhere I find it, its ‘no longer available’, or can’t be found at all.

Youtube pulled it for some reason?

Midas on February 28, 2008 at 11:40 AM

freevillage on February 28, 2008 at 11:35 AM

Key word: “pretend.” We ain’t pretending.

And we don’t need to go to dailykook.com to find nutty rhetoric, we can pretty much use your candidates’ words.

Akzed on February 28, 2008 at 11:41 AM

Shirotayama

Oh. I thought it was a joke about Hillary playing to poor downtrodden girl role. You know, the doe-eyed innocent victim, etc.

funky chicken on February 28, 2008 at 11:43 AM

freevillage on February 28, 2008 at 11:35 AM

Did some village lose another idiot?

Dailykos… please. If you think you were so far ahead already, why do I see a bunch going in reverse?

upinak on February 28, 2008 at 11:44 AM

funky chicken on February 28, 2008 at 11:36 AM

If someone is such a conservative “purist” that they want the most lefty president in history elected, then wow. I don’t want them on my team.

At least FDR hadn’t seen what Pol Pot, Mao etc. had done when he yanked us leftword. Obambi has the benefit of history and STILL is a psuedo commie…

Whats the saying that crazy is making the same mistakes over and over…..

tottoritodd on February 28, 2008 at 11:44 AM

Exit question: When does Obama pull a McCain and repudiate Dean-o’s comparison between the GOP field and white slaveholders?

Well, never of course. They’re Dems, and it is neither required, nor in their nature. And they don’t ever do anything to intentionally ‘step back’.

Dean’s comments resonate with their base, very red meat, and they don’t apologize for feeding their base red meat. Ever.

I’m sure if we Republicans continue to take the high road, however, we’ll draw the Dems into our arena for an honest, civil debate. It’s worked so well for decades now, hasn’t it?

Midas on February 28, 2008 at 11:45 AM

You’re overthinking it, funky.

Akzed on February 28, 2008 at 11:47 AM

Ech “playing the poor downtrodden girl”

funky chicken on February 28, 2008 at 11:48 AM

This is a card that, in the Democratic Party, almost plays itself – not that the Obama campaign hasn’t been hypocritical about it.

To me, the most revelatory moment was the crowd of Obamaniacs chanting “Race doesn’t matter!” in the aftermath of the South Carolina. A nice sentiment, but, if true, no one would need to or bother to shout it. In the political context, it could only be understood to mean its exact opposite – “Race matters a lot! Race matters a lot!” The famous Obamic koan “We are the change we’ve been waiting for” is also an unsubtle reference to race: In coming together “we” are overcoming the legacy of chiefly racial division. Remove racialism, and all that’s left of Obama and of his campaign is Tom Harkin’s greatest hits.

It’s for that reason that McCain is completely right in insisting as aggressively as is practical on a campaign of ideas and an elevated discourse. Only by firmly and repeatedly asserting this intention can McCain inoculate himself against the inevitable attacks that will come later, including attempts to associate him politically with the baser-than-the-base types who would for the most part be quite happy to sabotage his campaign.

Any hint of racialism and personal invective, whether directed against Obama or, for that matter, against Latinos in the context of the immigration debate, in effect legitimizes and reinforces Obama’s call for “healing.” Conservatives must strive to prove, as in Reagan’s phrase, that we really are the change. To whatever extent we succeed, the fundamental reason for the Obama campaign’s existence disappears.

CK MacLeod on February 28, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Dean’s comments resonate with their base, very red meat, and they don’t apologize for feeding their base red meat. Ever

Thats cause you never see them on the evening news newspapers etc, It helps if 90% of your co-workers are on the same side. M…cCain repudiates a local DJ and its evening news. Obambi tells Canada that he’s lying to the voters about NAFTA and … crickets

The internet is finally starting to level it out but its a big mountain….

tottoritodd on February 28, 2008 at 11:54 AM

Funky:

Nope. Akzed’s right, you were overthinking the Bambi thing.
Play on words was all it was. You went too deep and overanalyzed it.

Although if you WANTED to overanalyze it, a better analysis would have been that Hitlery was SUPPOSED to have been the Godzilla that stomped on Bambi early on.

Except it didn’t happen.

Hitlery and her advisors/campaign managers figured it’d be over by Super Tuesday on 2/5 and somehow, the SMARTEST woman in the entire freakin’ WORLD didn’t knock herself on the head, have a V-8, and say to herself “SELF, you know what might be a GREAT idea??? Having a PLAN B !!!!”

Well DUUUUUUUH.

Listen people. Being president means you not only have to have a plan B but plans C, D, E and at least F also. There are so many moving parts in this world, so many equations with rapidly shifting variables, that if you CAN’T have a plan B, it truly means you’re neither QUALIFIED nor FIT to be PRESIDENT.

Ahhh, there’s my jar of SKIPPY….Shrillary, git ready to mess with Texas.

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 11:57 AM

And we don’t need to go to dailykook.com to find nutty rhetoric, we can pretty much use your candidates’ words.

Mitt Romney’s?

freevillage on February 28, 2008 at 11:57 AM

TottoriTodd,

Not to pry, but do you have some kind of connection to Tottori Prefecture?

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 11:59 AM

(Oops – don’t make my mistake: The koan is “we are the ones we’ve been waiting for.”)

CK MacLeod on February 28, 2008 at 12:12 PM

I’m just waiting for somebody to start calling him
“Bam Bam”.

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 11:39 AM

Hmmmm… It’s a natural. Someone must already be doing it.

CK MacLeod on February 28, 2008 at 12:15 PM

CK,

Yer right. Gonna hafta google that and see what I get.

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 12:17 PM

To me, the most revelatory moment was the crowd of Obamaniacs chanting “Race doesn’t matter!” in the aftermath of the South Carolina. A nice sentiment, but, if true, no one would need to or bother to shout it.

Right. In fact, by saying anything you imply exactly the opposite. If what you say were obviously true, why would you bother saying it? It must be because the opposite is true and your goal is to deceive everybody.

freevillage on February 28, 2008 at 12:19 PM

Googled it. CK’s right. He’s Bam Bam already.
Looks like he’s pounding Shrillary into pebbles, too.

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 12:20 PM

BTW, is a video of the SNL debate spoof somewhere? Everywhere I find it, its ‘no longer available’, or can’t be found at all.

Youtube pulled it for some reason?

Midas on February 28, 2008 at 11:40 AM

http://www.nbc.com/Saturday_Night_Live/video/#mea=221776

CK MacLeod on February 28, 2008 at 12:23 PM

AP,

Thanks for the kind words and the Protein Wisdom link. There’s more new material on this, which I hope to have posted at PW in the next hour or two.

Karl on February 28, 2008 at 1:11 PM

Taking off the gloves, he said, “Barack Obama is no Muhammad Ali. He took a walk every time there was a tough vote in the Illinois State Senate. He took a walk more than a 130 times. That’s what a shadow boxer does. All the right moves. All the right combinations. All the right footwork. But he never steps into the ring.”

I don’t know. It’s true he avoids stepping into the ring, but Float like a butterfly, sting like a bee could be a good description of Obama.

Buy Danish on February 28, 2008 at 1:26 PM

I can already imagine the crowds in Africa yelling:

Bam Bi Bumaye!
Bam Bi Bumaye!
Bam Bi Bumaye!

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 2:08 PM

Hotair.com readers or authors, on the other hand, would never do anything similar. Like take a quote from a deranged lunatic on DailyKos and pretend it’s somehow representative of the left group thinking.

freevillage on February 28, 2008 at 11:35 AM

By deranged lunatic are you referring to Markos himself? ‘Cause there’s plenty of his own quotes and those to whom he cedes control of the site that are deranged.

aunursa on February 28, 2008 at 2:17 PM

Right. In fact, by saying anything you imply exactly the opposite. If what you say were obviously true, why would you bother saying it? It must be because the opposite is true and your goal is to deceive everybody.

That reminds me of when I visit neighboring Bay Area cities that designate themselves as a “drug-free zone” or a “nuclear-free zone”.

aunursa on February 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM

aunursa on February 28, 2008 at 2:17 PM

*snort*

Buy Danish on February 28, 2008 at 2:30 PM

That reminds me of when I visit neighboring Bay Area cities that designate themselves as a “drug-free zone” or a “nuclear-free zone”.
-aunursa on February 28, 2008 at 2:18 PM

Bay Area, HELL! Try the Democratic Socialist People’s Republic of TAKOMA PARK, MARYLAND. They officially define their town PUBLICALLY on street signs as a Nuclear Free Zone.

Shirotayama on February 28, 2008 at 2:37 PM

Ever since it came out that Barrack ‘needed’ Secret Service protection early because of ‘threats’ that were never confirmed, right down to the Dallas story about the Secret Service not checking for guns at Obama’s rally- It has been clear that the Obama Campaign is VERY SOPHISTICATED about playing the race card.

It was the Obama Campaign who TOLD the Secret Service to stop checking for weapons ostensibly because the venue wasn’t filling quickly enough.

Ex-tex on February 28, 2008 at 3:02 PM

Right after Jesus levitates through the door of my office and offers me some sashimi.

Blacklake on February 28, 2008 at 11:30 AM

Obama is in town?

fourstringfuror on February 28, 2008 at 5:17 PM

Okay I was on Yahoo looking at other Reuters photos I found it too funny that while the Media now pictures him as God, here in the same batch of photos showing what they think of Hillary now.

Hillary Photo on Yahoo news

More Obama as the Messiah photos are in the 100-120 range section. Compare those to the ones for Hillary they have. She is getting the full blown Republican and President Bush treatment from the press now. :)

JeffinSac on February 28, 2008 at 7:48 PM

His white half appeals to blacks and his black half appeals to whites.

His being a half-wit appeals to both.

profitsbeard on February 29, 2008 at 1:49 AM

Sigh. Michele makes TV viewing pleasurable again and YouTube can’t stand it.

Lawrence on March 3, 2008 at 7:41 PM