From Josh Marshall’s lips to the editorial board’s ear. New rule: If you’re conservative, juxtaposing images of Barack Obama and white women regardless of context is racist per se. As, of course, is juxtaposing images of Obama and black men or women, lest you be accused of emphasizing his race by association.
Juxtaposing images of him with white men? Iffy. Might suggest he’s gay. They’ll get back to you.
The ad gave us an uneasy feeling that the McCain campaign was starting up the same sort of racially tinged attack on Mr. Obama that Republican operatives, some of whom work for Mr. McCain now, ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women…
[Team McCain’s] retort [to Obama’s “dollar bill” comment] was, we must say, not only contemptible, but shrewd. It puts the sin for the racial attack not on those who made it, but on the victim of the attack.
It also — and we wish this were coincidence, but we doubt it — conjurs [sic] up another loaded racial image.
The phrase dealing the race card “from the bottom of the deck” entered the national lexicon during the O.J. Simpson saga. Robert Shapiro, one of Mr. Simpson’s lawyers, famously declared of himself, Johnny Cochran and the rest of the Simpson defense team, “Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck.”
Answer honestly: How many of you knew the pedigree of the “bottom of the deck” line? I swear that I didn’t, and doubtless well over 99% of the public doesn’t either. But as we were reminded this morning, that doesn’t matter: Whether Davis intended to allude to O.J. and whether his audience was capable of grasping the allusion even if it was intended are now wholly beside the point. What matters is what McCain’s enemies see, and if they see racism, racism is plausibly there. Objective meaning is theirs, exclusively, to determine.
Speaking of which, your exit question: What’s funniest? This ante-upper, Godwin-ing past simple accusations of racism to charge McCain with comparing Obama to Hitler? Ross Douthat’s drily witty reply? Or the comments to Douthat’s post, willfully misreading his point that any superficial similarities between Obama’s speech and a Nuremberg rally are the fault of the campaign in order to accuse him of comparing Obama to Hitler?
Update: For a guy who showed an admirable amount of nerve yesterday swatting down Obama’s charge of racism, Tapper’s kid-gloves treatment of the repulsive Times piece is exceedingly weak.