NYT proclaims Obama “careful” on race?

posted at 9:15 am on August 2, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Michael Powell does his best to spin Barack Obama’s stumble this week in smearing John McCain as a racist, but he can’t quite close the deal in his New York Times article.  The headline proclaims Obama as “careful” on race, but Obama has been anything but careful.  He’s been reckless on it twice in the last six weeks, and this time he got called out by McCain in a way that the press couldn’t ignore.

Here’s the spin:

Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles, but this week a few of his words opened a racial door his campaign would prefer not to step through. When Senator John McCain’s camp replied by accusing him of playing the race card from the bottom of the deck, the Obama campaign seemed at least momentarily off balance.

The instinctive urge to punch back was tempered by the fact that race is a fire that could singe both candidates. So on Friday the Obama campaign, a carefully controlled lot on the best of days, reacted most cautiously as it sought to tamp down any sense that it was at war with Mr. McCain over who was the first to inject race into the contest. Mr. Obama made no mention of the issue, except for a brief reference in an interview with a local newspaper in Florida.

“I was in Union, Mo., which is 98 percent white, a rural conservative, and what I said was what I think everyone knows, which is that I don’t look like I came out of central casting when it comes to presidential candidates,” he told The St. Petersburg Times. “There was nobody there who thought at all that I was trying to inject race in this.”

The furor started on Thursday when Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, said, “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck.” Mr. Davis was alluding to Mr. Obama’s remarks on Wednesday that Republicans would try to scare voters by pointing out that he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

Got that?  The furor started when Rick Davis pointed out the explicit claim that the McCain campaign — not just Republicans but specifically McCain’s campaign — would try to scare people by pointing out that he “doesn’t look” like past presidents.  No one thought Obama referred to hair style.

Powell didn’t do a very good job of keeping up with this story, either.  He writes that David Plouffe and David Axelrod refuted the charge, but as Allahpundit pointed out, Axelrod admitted under pressure that Obama did mean to point out his race in that passage:

When pressed to explain the comment, Axelrod told “GMA” it meant, “He’s not from central casting when it comes to candidates for president of the United States. He’s new to Washington. Yes, he’s African-American.”

And let’s not forget his June appearance in Jacksonville, where he accused the Republicans and the McCain campaign of preparing to scare people because, “did I mention he’s black?”  Careful?  Obama has been about as irresponsible with his charges of racism as he possibly could be.  McCain has stayed far away fromany attack points that could possibly be perceived as racist, as Jake Tapper wrote, and yet Obama smeared him anyway.  When McCain defended himself forcefully, though, the New York Times credits that as the start of the “furor”.

The Obama campaign is the one selling fear and smears.  It didn’t take much to provoke it from Obama himself, either.  Whenever McCain attacks his policies or his lack of experience, Obama shows himself as thin-skinned and reactionary, willing to toss rhetorical bombs that he can’t support.  That’s the antithesis of “careful”.  Given the incendiary nature of the accusation, it’s the epitome of recklessness, and it says quite a bit about the man who so carelessly throws that smear at his opponents.


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I was just listening to his news conference. One of the reporters mentioned John Kerry. What Obama doesn’t understand is that our side treats him like we treat John Kerry because he is an arrogant clone thereof. Obama wants to create the impression that there is a difference in our treatment of the two because he is black and because he “spent time in Indonesia.”

Connie on August 2, 2008 at 9:25 AM

Race baiting is getting tougher in the Internet age. I feel sorry for Obama, he was only doing what he was taught, what was once tried and true.

tarpon on August 2, 2008 at 9:29 AM

He’s been careful at avoiding the appearance of using race, that doesn’t mean he hasn’t used it. And his careful use has mostly relied on the media and compliant audiences, which are not airtight methods these days.

aikidoka on August 2, 2008 at 9:30 AM

His news conference was interesting. he ummmed and erred through many of his answers. Plus..he STILL brought up the Im not the normal candidate with the normal bio.

On oil,the 1st question asked was about his flip flop on drilling…he says No, I didnt flip flop. He lies in his 1st answer! ugh

becki51758 on August 2, 2008 at 9:34 AM

When Obama grows up, maybe he’ll understand that the grief we hold about his candidacy is not at all about race…it is, however, all about his arrogance and lack of depth. Thus, it is about character. MLK admonished us to judge a man by the content of his character not the color of his skin. We are doing exactly what MLK exhorted us all, all of us, to do. And now, in today’s context, this is wrong?

If one accesses the archives at CQ, I wrote a number of times when Obama first made his run against Hillary in the primaries, that his initial campaign impressed me. he started out running not as a Black American, but as an American junior Senator from Illinois. Unfortunately, as the primary progressed and he was not doing as well as he hoped, he plunged in to the racial divide with vigor. Now, today, he has made it his mantle.

His choice. Not ours.

As for Obama growing up, I doubt he will. Kerry still does not understand how his elitism and his arrogance cost him the election far more than his being “swift boated.”

coldwarrior on August 2, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles

Oh, really?
http://obamasgaffes.blogspot.com/
http://gatewaypundit.blogspot.com/2008/06/more-obama-gaffes-including-kids.html

jgapinoy on August 2, 2008 at 9:36 AM

He also said he was wore out this week. If campaigning wears him, how can he be President?

becki51758 on August 2, 2008 at 9:38 AM

As for Obama growing up, I doubt he will. Kerry still does not understand how his elitism and his arrogance cost him the election far more than his being “swift boated.”

coldwarrior on August 2, 2008 at 9:35 AM

Precisely.

OT: Although the tie is disconcerting, I’m enjoying Gutfeld on F&F.

Connie on August 2, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Obama’s campaign is so dependent on people voting against him being perceived as racist, that he is being very careful to make sure charges of racism enter the discussion.

backwoods conservative on August 2, 2008 at 9:49 AM

Race baiting is getting tougher in the Internet age. I feel sorry for Obama, he was only doing what he was taught, what was once tried and true.

tarpon on August 2, 2008 at 9:29 AM

Not trying to step on your simple and elegant point, but it does still work in the Dem. party (see Hillary Clinton) and with nearly half the electorate. As you say though, the problem is the nearly.

JiangxiDad on August 2, 2008 at 9:52 AM

Obama’s campaign is so dependent on people voting against him being perceived as racist, that he is being very careful to make sure charges of racism enter the discussion.

backwoods conservative on August 2, 2008 at 9:49 AM

Yes, but as many have pointed out, that only works in the dem primaries, not the gen’l election.

JiangxiDad on August 2, 2008 at 9:53 AM

Yes, but as many have pointed out, that only works in the dem primaries, not the gen’l election.

JiangxiDad on August 2, 2008 at 9:53 AM

I certainly hope so. The Democrats have a history of being unable to see how they’re shooting themselves in the foot.

backwoods conservative on August 2, 2008 at 9:57 AM

In my opinion Obama is a racist, period. I know the socialist/liberals like to say people of color cant be racist but human nature is human nature – it doesnt matter what color of skin it’s wrapped in.

abcurtis on August 2, 2008 at 10:03 AM

How can Obama say he is not playing the race card. He must think people are stupid.

Terrye on August 2, 2008 at 10:03 AM

The question is: “How powerful is ‘white guilt’ in America?”

My mother is 94. Talked to her recently [I know, I never call...get that all the time from her.] and she is an old FDR Democrat. Voted for Reagan, twice, but doesn’t like Republicans, hence my infrequent phone calls, perhaps? Anyway, since the primaries, she has said, often, that it is time for a Black President. Said it is about time we elected a Black President. Said we really should vote for Obama because it will be an historic moment in America if we elect a Black President.

I asked why this is so importnant, and why Obama. her reply is not unlike that I’ve heard elsewhere. Because he is such an educated nice looking Black man. And we really need to make up for all that anti-civil rights stuff and jim Crow. I remember as a young kid living at Fort Knox, in a border state, where in the local communities there were still Whites Only signs on water fountains, and there was an unofficial segregation of the several on-post swimming pools, so Mom has seen it, the old days, and now, she wants to somehow expunge that old notion and make up for it by voting for a Black President.

White Guilt. It exists. It may drive Americans to vote.

this is why matters of experience, depth, character, and Obnama’s pandering to that racial divide and white guilt simply has to be addressed.

If we can hit him on arrogance…if we can hit him on his lack of experience…if we can hit him on his lack of seasoned judgement, perhaps there is hope. If we get involved in a race-bait race-react Gordian Knot there are way too many Americans, white Americans, who will vote for him because they believe, honestly believe, that it is time we elected a Black President and can somehow expunge from our souls, expiate our guilt, all the indecencies and woes foisted upon Blacks over our history.

Amends, expunging and expiation are all well and good. But not this candidate. Not Obama. Not now.

He simply does not have that content of character. He does, however, have the color of his skin. Let’s not toss MLK onto the scrap heap.

coldwarrior on August 2, 2008 at 10:08 AM

He must think people are stupid.

The Democrats rely on stupidity to get elected, or at least the absence of any great deal of thinking. That’s why they so often focus on pushing people’s buttons on emotionally charged issues, hoping they will vote their feelings rather than thinking out what the Democrats’ policies would lead to.

backwoods conservative on August 2, 2008 at 10:09 AM

The Democrats rely on stupidity to get elected, or at least the absence of any great deal of thinking.

Feelings…nothing more than feelings.

jgapinoy on August 2, 2008 at 10:11 AM

I hate to say this but he is going to have to annoy or insult a huge segment of the country right out loud because if he doesn’t win it’s racism. It doesn’t matter that he is practically a twelve year old kid in experience and is two inches deep, he is THE ONE. The only smart thing he has done lately is vote for the FISA bill. I think he finally got a clue as to what W looks at only a daily basis and realized he might need all the help he can get. The fact that he is so supremely sure of his ability to be POTUS scares me.

Cindy Munford on August 2, 2008 at 10:13 AM

OT: Although the tie is disconcerting, I’m enjoying Gutfeld on F&F.

Connie on August 2, 2008 at 9:42 AM

Funny! I had to leave and came back to all the guys removing their ties. Were they reading HA?

Connie on August 2, 2008 at 10:26 AM

McCain is the racist for even criticizing Dear Leader, we all know what McCain’s real feelings are towards Dear Leader.

James on August 2, 2008 at 10:27 AM

Obama injects his race into almost every speech he gives. He has a long history of doing this. He often does it in self defecating ways as if a spoon full of sugar will help the medicine go down. For example, he once said during a primary debate: “Let’s face it, my presence on this stage is pretty unlikely,” Clearly referring to the fact that he was the only black candidate and implying that black candidates are unlikely to be running for office because America is a racist nation, but just enough nuance for him to deny it if questioned later.

Dollayo on August 2, 2008 at 10:35 AM

He often does it in self defecating ways

that’s funny.

JiangxiDad on August 2, 2008 at 10:43 AM

So on Friday the Obama campaign, a carefully controlled lot on the best of days, reacted most cautiously as it sought to tamp down any sense that it was at war with Mr. McCain over who was the first to inject race into the contest.

So, I see. The media thinks that McCain was the first to inject race into the presidential campaign. And here all along I thought it was the Democrats who did it during the Democrat primaries.

Log on August 2, 2008 at 10:55 AM

coldwarrior on August 2, 2008 at 10:08 AM

I agree totally. White guilt is getting Obama lots of votes…I pray it doesnt win him the election.

becki51758 on August 2, 2008 at 10:55 AM

If BO gets elected then I will conclude that in fact he was right and the voters are stupid.

HawaiiLwyr on August 2, 2008 at 11:01 AM

I agree totally. White guilt is getting Obama lots of votes…I pray it doesnt win him the election.

becki51758 on August 2, 2008 at 10:55 AM

Yes, but those people already vote Dem, and are usually libs. Voting for a minority simply strokes their vanity. Are you suggesting white Republicans will succumb?

fwiw, my family will all vote for Obama as a result of white guilt. They vet their kids’ pre-school teacher more carefully than they’re considering Obama.

JiangxiDad on August 2, 2008 at 11:11 AM

If BO gets elected then I will conclude that in fact he was right and the voters are stupid.

HawaiiLwyr on August 2, 2008 at 11:01 AM

Both of your points are correct.

JiangxiDad on August 2, 2008 at 11:12 AM

On oil,the 1st question asked was about his flip flop on drilling…he says No, I didnt flip flop. He lies in his 1st answer! ugh

becki51758 on August 2, 2008 at 9:34 AM

I saw that and thought the exact same thing. I also liked when Obama was asked about the charges of arrogance and elitism and he said that’s what “they” (cunning, manipulative Republican operatives) are feeding to the media.

In other words, he called me and the millions of others who noticed it long ago stupid. We couldn’t possibly have come up with that all on our own, based on his own arrogant attitude and statements, now could we?

And then Obama’s BS answer about “central casting” and his “bio” when asked about his blatant race-smear of McCain was just too much. He really does think we’re stupid and evidently so does the New York Times based on this supremely disingenuous Michael Powell piece.

Gilda on August 2, 2008 at 11:13 AM

The race card is the only card in Obama’s deck.

Why else would an individual whose record consists of a whole lot of nothing, who is less than candid about his past — including his birth — and has no fixed positions on any issue be the presumed presidential candidate of a major political party (even if it’s the Democrats)?

Obama’s supporters in the media (that’s a redundancy, I know) use white guilt to sell the lie that McCain is a “racist.” What makes him so? His willingness to call Obama’s many bluffs on the issues dares to suggest the unthinkable for people steeped in the culture of White Guilt: a black man can be just as incompetent and dangerous as a white man.

With luck, Americans will wake up in time to apply Dr King’s “content of his character” test to Obama, and advance the cause of race relations sufficiently to deny a slick, empty-suit race-hustler like Obama the presidency.

If Obama wins, the bar for high office will be irreparably lowered, and when a qualified black person decides to run for that office in the future, he or she won’t stand a chance.

If, as I devoutly hope, he loses, it will be a victory for equality, irrefutable proof that all candidates are subject to the same tests to ensure their suitability for the presidency.

MrScribbler on August 2, 2008 at 11:15 AM

Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles

Is this idiot watching the same campaign I am?

Chuck Schick on August 2, 2008 at 11:23 AM

Mr.Scribbler, you make an several interesting points and this is a touch off subject but the one thing that Sen. Obama has been up front about it his drug use. That beings said have the any of the left wing “comics” such as Bill Mahre gone after him about it? I have heard clips of some horrendous things he has said about the President “assumed” drug use. In his books he is pretty up front about that and his Marxist leanings and I believe his choice of associates in current years have only reinforced that it is still his chosen path.

Cindy Munford on August 2, 2008 at 11:26 AM

JiangxiDad on August 2, 2008 at 11:11 AM

Will White Republicans succumb? A small percentage may, given their enmity for McCain. [Or they will stay home and not vote at all, allowing their personal pique to dictate their decision not to vote.]

It comes down to simple arithmetic. If a large number of white Dems and Independents succumb to “white guilt” Obama gets sworn in in January. The Obama camp must certainly realize this. This is why Jackson and Sharpton (the race hustlers) and most of the old Civil Rights crowd are not visible supporters of Obama, nor have they been seen very often if at all on the rostrum next to him at campaign stops for the most part. Disassociation of the Old Guard with the new Avant Guard is scripted. It has to be.

The subtle, almost subliminal comments of Obama concerning his “being different” and his often phrased references about “white folk” or that he “talked to a crowd of 98% whites” and such or his “did he mention he was Black” comments, set the stage, frame the debate in the minds of many.

It is artful, to a degree his inartfullness.

What I question, and worry about, is why Obama is not addressing massed throngs of Hispanics? They are, indeed, a far larger “minority” than Blacks in America. He is also not addressing massed throng of Blacks, in the manner of a Jesse jackson or Al Sharpton. They vote. Obama knows this. But, the idea of Obama being seen wading through throngs and crowds of excited Black voters, or being seen associatied with large crowds of Hispanics, which, we all know [nudge, nudge, wink, wink.] are all illegal aliens, won’t play on television as well as his appearing before large mostly white audiences…and being able to jostle their white guilt with clever, witty, artful almost casual throwaway lines about “I’m not like those other candidates” or “did he mention I was Black.”

This is where he can lull and then lock on to white voters…the subliminal suggestion, that after thought brought to the frontal lobes when they walk in to vote in November.

Obama is depending on “white guilt” to put him over the finish line.

Nothing subtle about that strategy at all.

coldwarrior on August 2, 2008 at 11:28 AM

That’s why he must be seen as a Black Christian and cannot be seen in any way as Muslim or Arab.

econavenger on August 2, 2008 at 11:35 AM

he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

Uh-oh. Now where did I pick up this ten-spot with Nipsey Russell on it?

whitetop on August 2, 2008 at 11:59 AM

Obama Says Republicans Will Use Race to Stoke Fear
By Caren Bohan
June 20, 2008

JACKSONVILLE, Florida (Reuters) – Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama said on Friday he expects Republicans to highlight the fact that he is black as part of an effort to make voters afraid of him.

“It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy,” Obama told a fundraiser in Jacksonville, Florida. “We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid.

“They’re going to try to make you afraid of me. He’s young and inexperienced and he’s got a funny name. And did I mention he’s black?”

http://a.abcnews.com/Politics/wireStory?id=5215817

I guess he’s been careful to mention it as many times as he can?

funky chicken on August 2, 2008 at 12:03 PM

Two words of advice for Barry if he’s worried about this:

Powdered wig.

Rhinoboy on August 2, 2008 at 12:05 PM

“There was nobody there who thought at all that I was trying to inject race in this.”

I’d think it would be pretty easy to find some folks from Union, MO, and ask if they thought he was talking about race.

mikeyboss on August 2, 2008 at 12:09 PM

Senator Barack Obama is a man of few rhetorical stumbles…

This statement is not only a lie or and inadvertant declaration of ignorance, it qualifies as an in-kind campaign contribution.

Akzed on August 2, 2008 at 12:38 PM

“The furor began when Mr. Jones tackled the intruder…”

No, it began when the intruder forced open the door.

Akzed on August 2, 2008 at 12:42 PM

Found this interesting:

http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/08/obama-concedes.html

Obama admits his remarks were indeed about race.

coldwarrior on August 2, 2008 at 1:43 PM

what I said was what I think everyone knows, which is that I don’t look like I came out of central casting when it comes to presidential candidates

Even his excuses are terrible. Obama is just not smart, by any stretch of the imagination.

Central casting – I assume he means Hollywood. So, what does a Hollywood president have to do with the presidents depicted on our currency?

There have been hundreds of Hollywood “presidents” and they are pretty varied in appearance. None of them look like the guys on the currency, unless they are portraying the guys on the currency.

McCain needs to do everything in his power to push for as many debates as possible.

reaganaut on August 2, 2008 at 1:46 PM

Obama wants this campaign all about race because thats all that he has going for him and that make him unique, he has no experience and he’s an extremist not even a normal Democrat..

The MOST Liberal person out of 100 Senators.. his policies are so out of touch with Americans that he delusional and using race baiting as a wedge issue is his only chance at winning, trying to use “white guilt” to try and propel himself into the White House he will say and do anything.

We are at war and we have no time for this crocked up racial BS, and American can not aford a liberal like Obama as Commander-in-Chief.

Chakra Hammer on August 2, 2008 at 4:42 PM

Obama wants this campaign all about race because that’s all he has going for him and that makes him unique, he has no experience or accomplishments and he’s an extremist and hangs out with them he’s not even a normal Democrat..

He’s the MOST Liberal person out of 100 Senators.. his policies are so out of touch with Americans that he’s delusional and using race baiting as a wedge issue is his only chance at winning, trying to use “white guilt” to try and propel himself into the White House he will say and do anything.

We are at war and we have no time for this crocked up racial BS, and America can not afford an extremist liberal like Obama as Commander-in-Chief.

Chakra Hammer on August 2, 2008 at 4:45 PM

Akzed on August 2, 2008 at 12:38 PM

ditto

Janos Hunyadi on August 2, 2008 at 6:18 PM

a man of few rhetorical stumbles

That stopped me right there.

baldilocks on August 2, 2008 at 7:20 PM