01 August 2008

Hey, look! Another race-baiting black politician!

Responding to a recent -- and admittedly juvenile -- ad in which the McCain campaign compared him to Paris Hilton and Britney Spears, the Changemaker remarked that "what they're going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, 'He's not patriotic enough, he's got a funny name,' you know, 'He doesn't look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.'"

McCain's surrogates immediately began blasting Obama for playing the race card. Team Hope responded that the "dollar bill" comment was innocuous, and was in no way meant to highlight the fact that Obama is black and the "other presidents on the dollar bills" are white. Maybe -- but in June, His Hopeness happened to have this to say to a crowd in Florida:

"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?'"

Hmm. That sounds familiar.

Obama's message of change, hope, new politics and nonsensical platitudes is a fraud. As someone who appreciated that Obama -- previously, at least -- was a gifted politician who happened to be black, as opposed to a race-baiter who happened to run for office -- the Pope of Hope's appearance on the political scene was at first refreshing. Obama deserves applause for the fact that other so-called black leaders, such as the Rev. Jackson and others, dislike him so much. But when he so overtly plays the race card in a political campaign -- as he is doing now against McCain and as he did against the Clintons during the primary -- he comes off as nothing more than a run-of-the-mill neoliberal politician from Chicago who will say anything to get elected at best, and a garden-variety race huckster at worst.

As has been written in this space before, running a campaign based on platitudes is dangerous, especially when the candidate's actions don't quite comport with the candidate's rhetoric.

The more Obama plays the race card and argues that Republicans are attacking him simply because he's a minority, the more he looks like just another black politician who has one message for his black supporters and a completely different message for the rest of the country.

In 2008, voters don't want to hear about how Obama is disadvantaged because he's black.

Another lesson Team Maverick must glean from this episode is that going negative works. The Changemaker -- supposedly the most transcendent political figure of our lifetimes -- is simply incapable of rising above the fray and brushing aside any sort of attack. He pulled the race card out against the Clintons when Bill compared him to Jesse Jackson, and he's using it here against McCain. The Senior Senator admits to being an imperfect public servant; Obama admits nothing of the sort. Thus, if McCain can continue to draw him in to a mudslinging competition, the effect will be devastating on His Hopeness' public image. Obama has painted himself as some sort of post-partisan healer, and the more he talks about race, the more fraudulent he appears.

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