August 26, 2008
Racist Republicans imply that Obama is black!
When I read about Barack Obama's half brother living in poverty in a shanty area in Kenya, it occurred to me that the contrast between the two might become an issue in the campaign. After all, imagine what would happen if it were discovered that John McCain had a half brother living in squalor somewhere. As it is, the Obama team is tearing into McCain under the class war / Zero Sum theory that his wife's property ownership makes them somehow guilty of being rich at the expense of the poor, and he's even being savaged because his wife's sister was left out of her father's will:
Does anyone think if Mr. McCain had a sibling living in a trailer park making minimum wage (892 times more than Mr. Obama's half brother's yearly income) that the mainstream media and the Obama campaign wouldn't notice?So clearly, the McCains are held to be responsible for the circumstances of their relatives and they get no breaks. In politics, there's nothing new about this; back in the 60s, even the sacrosanct Kennedy clan faced criticism when it was discovered that Jackie's schizophrenic cousin and her mother lived in a decaying, animal-infested house which drew scrutiny from local health authorities. Jackie went in and helped clean up the place herself, and it's all detailed in the film Grey Gardens.
While I don't think it is fair to be held responsible for the circumstances of people beyond your control, such "responsibility" is part and parcel of the liberal philosophy, and for any presidential candidate to escape scrutiny resulting from the plight of an impoverished relative would be abnormal in American politics.
What's utterly new is the idea that such run-of-the-mill political criticism is to be considered "racist" -- at least if the candidate is Barack Obama.
It did not take long for this meme to be applied to discussions of Obama's impoverished brother:
...On the same day that the Obama campaign was sprucing up Michelle's values for popular consumption, the Texas Republican Party released an ad that showed Obama's nice home in Chicago and a picture of his half-brother in Kenya standing by a shanty. The explicit argument of the ad was that Obama says he wants to help American families but does nothing to help his own. The implicit message: he's BLACK and his brother is an AFRICAN. In the weeks ahead, the Obama camp may well face a blitz of negative attacks that could make the Swift Boat assault against John Kerry look like a day at the beach.Got that?
It is now mean and nasty and racist to point out that Obama's brother lives in squalor. That's because such criticism contains the "implicit message" that Obama is black.
Forgive me, but since when does the fact that Obama is black need to be implied? I'm a bit confused here. I know that there are racists in this country who think being black is bad and would not vote for Obama for that reason, but is that the sort of thing racists point out by implication? Can it be that David Corn is assuming that there are still racist voters in America who don't realize that a black man is running for president, but they'll be "awakened" to that fact by "implicit messages" involving an impoverished African brother?
I don't think so. Rather, I think this is evidence of a new standard that any criticism of Obama conveys the "implicit message" that he is black.
That's because your typical white person is implicitly mean, nasty and racist.
UPDATE: My thanks to Glenn Reynolds for linking this post, and a warm welcome to all.
Comments appreciated, agree or disagree.
posted by Eric on 08.26.08 at 10:54 AM
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