Barack Obama told supporters in Jacksonville that Republicans would launch racist attacks against him in the upcoming election. Without noting a single supporting piece of evidence, Obama cast any opposition to him as bigotry, and in doing so, recalled just a touch of Joe McCarthy’s tactics:
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?”
The ironic part of this argument is that it ignores the tactics his fellow Democrats used in the primary, while also overlooking John McCain’s efforts to distance himself from the same tactics. It was, after all, staffers on the Hillary Clinton campaign that sent the photo of Obama in African garb to the Drudge Report. It was Bill Clinton who suggested that Obama’s victory in South Carolina was no more significant than Jesse Jackson’s in 1988. It was Hillary who explicitly went after the white, working-class vote in the later primaries that bruised Obama so badly.
John McCain, meanwhile, was a lot more outspoken in criticizing his own supporters for relying on crypto-ethnic references. He immediately and publicly disowned, without any prompting, Bill Cunningham in Ohio after the radio host enphasized Obama’s middle name (Hussein) in his introductory remarks. McCain also fired one staffer for e-mailing a Jeremiah Wright video after explicitly saying that his campaign would have no comment on Wright or Trinity United. Meanwhile, Hillary could only offer a tepid “as far as I know” repudiation of the rumor that Obama is/was a Muslim.
Just as with his untrue statements on Republican financing and 527s, Obama seems content to issue lies and smears in order to inflame the electorate. There is more than a little hint of McCarthyism in this tactic. Joe McCarthy waved pieces of paper around and claimed to have lists of Communists in government that he never substantiated. Obama likes to accuse Republicans of racism without any proof, either, while apparently discounting the real race-card playing in his own party.
If he has proof that the Republican Party and/or John McCain plan racist attacks on him, let him show it. If he doesn’t, then Obama is guilty of his own racial pandering and should apologize. (in part via TMV)
Update: Copied comments from the Headlines post.
Update II: Baldilocks notes that the demonization has begun.
Update (AP): All I’d add to what Ed said is that Team Obama’s been playing the race card for a long time now. What makes this different is that the candidate himself, for once, has deigned to dirty his hands instead of letting his jerkiest lackeys, like Jesse Jackson Jr., do it for him.
Update (AP): Just in case Team Barry tries to deny he said this, here’s the audio. Big cheers for the siren song of demagoguery, natch.