Drudge has this clip highlighted with the headline, “OBAMA PLAYS RACE CARD” in bold letters at the top of the page. Ben Smith at Politico goes with a less-provocative description of “unusual demographic frankness” in describing this effort from the DNC to get the troops rallied for the midterm elections. Both descriptions seem more ironic after watching this wan, mailed-in effort from Barack Obama that reminds one more of his video extolling Martha Coakley’s virtues to skeptical Massachusetts voters:
The Democratic National Committee this morning released this clip of the president rallying the troops, if rather coolly, for 2010. Obama’s express goal: “reconnecting” with the voters who voted for the first time in 2008, but who may not plan to vote in the lower-profile Congressional elections this year.
Obama speaks with unusual demographic frankness about his coalition in his appeal to “young people, African-Americans, Latinos, and women who powered our victory in 2008 [to] stand together once again.”
Well, at least we know who the DNC doesn’t want around in the midterms by subtraction: older white and Asian men. At least, that’s a fair interpretation of the President’s otherwise dull speech to the faithful.
It’s not exactly playing a “race card,” which usually means some claim of either victimization or super-credibility for a particular argument, but it’s a little more frank than usual about the motives of political organizations. No one doubts that both parties approach electoral politics on the basis of demographics; both Democrats and Republicans make quite a show of it, especially when talking to groups that find their basis on ethnicity or religion. What they normally don’t do is frame it in such an exclusionary way as Obama does in this video. Is this election really dependent on overwhelming the demographics that he leaves out of his appeal?
In a word, yes. Obama won’t top this ticket, and with his approval ratings heading steadily south, it’s questionable whether he would help or hurt the national Democratic ticket anyway. As Smith notes, he needs that surge from 2008 to reappear this year, but Obama’s really addressing the wrong groups if he wants that to happen. His big problem is that independents have peeled away from the Democrats — and this isn’t exactly the way to bring them back into the fold.