Friday, August 1, 2008

Obama & McCain Through The NYT Looking Glass

This is a neat trick. Obama refuses to meet McCain in any head to head debates over the issues - even ducking a debate set up before military families. When McCain criticizes Obama, Obama responds by accusing McCain of ignoring the issues and equates any criticism of himself with racism. The NYT then insinuates itself into this drama, charging McCain with "going negative" and of inappropriately injecting race into the general election campaign. This is Obama and the political world through a "looking glass" every bit as reality distorting as that dreamed up by Lewis Carrol to amuse children with flights of fantasy.

McCain was right to call out Obama for using the spectre of racism as a wholly inappropriate mechanism to defend against valid criticism. What McCain is failing to do is to attack Obama mercislessly for ducking debates on the issues.

The NYT ignores the fact that Obama, with unmistakable clarity, preemptively injected race and racisim into the general election campaign in June as a bar to any criticism:

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.

. . . 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?”

Apparently, the googling abilitites of the current crop of NYT writers does not extend back that far into the distant past. At any rate, Obama repeated the same thing near verbatim yesterday.

In the wake of Obama's "we are the world" tour, McCain's team had put together an ad designed to show Obama as an empty suit, as vapid and vaccuous as many other media created celebrities and, specifically, Paris Hilton and Britany Spears. I didn't particularly think it was a good ad, but the underlying message could not be more accurate.

This led Obama to charge that, one, McCain is refusing to debate the issues, and two, that McCain is doing nothing more than to "scare" voters by pointing out that he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.” In other words, to criticize Obama is the equivalent of racism.

McCain called Obama on the racism allegation this time, to which this article appears in today's NYT:

Senator John McCain’s campaign accused Senator Barack Obama on Thursday of playing “the race card,” citing his remarks that Republicans would try to scare voters by pointing out that he “doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.”

The exchange injected racial politics front and center into the general election campaign for the first time, after it became a subtext in the primary between Mr. Obama and Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton.

It came as the McCain campaign was intensifying its attacks, trying to throw its Democratic opponent off course before the conventions.

“Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck,” Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, Rick Davis, charged in a statement with which Mr. McCain later said he agreed. “It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.”

In leveling the charge, Mr. Davis was referring to comments that Mr. Obama made Wednesday in Missouri when he reacted to the increasingly negative tone and negative advertisements from the McCain campaign, including one that likens Mr. Obama’s celebrity status to that of Paris Hilton and Britney Spears.

“So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me,” Mr. Obama said in Springfield, Mo., echoing earlier remarks. “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 those dollar bills, you know. He’s risky. That’s essentially the argument they’re making.”

With his rejoinder about playing “the race card,” Mr. Davis effectively assured that race would once again become an unavoidable issue as voters face an election in which, for the first time, one of the major parties’ nominees is African-American.

And with its criticism, the McCain campaign was ensuring that Mr. Obama’s race — he is the son of a black man from Kenya and a white woman from Kansas — would again be a factor in coverage of the presidential race. On Thursday, it took the spotlight from Mr. Obama when he had sought to attack Mr. McCain on energy issues.

. . . The remarks put Mr. Obama’s campaign, which has tried to keep him from being pigeonholed or defined by race, in a delicate position. He did not address the matter himself on Thursday, and his campaign gingerly tried to tamp down the issue, saying he did not believe that Mr. McCain had tried to use race as an issue.

“This is a race about big challenges — a slumping economy, a broken foreign policy and an energy crisis for everyone but the oil companies,” said Robert Gibbs, a campaign spokesman. “Barack Obama in no way believes that the McCain campaign is using race as an issue, but he does believe they’re using the same old low-road politics to distract voters from the real issues in this campaign. And those are the issues he’ll continue to talk about.”

. . . [The] McCain campaign has adopted a far more aggressive, negative posture toward Mr. Obama in recent days, trying to define him as arrogant, out of touch and unprepared for the presidency. But until this week, the McCain campaign had not invoked race.

Mr. Obama has been the victim of some racist and racially tinged attacks this year, particularly during the primaries.

Underground e-mail campaigns have spread the false rumor that he is Muslim and questioned his patriotism by falsely charging that he does not put his hand over his heart when the Pledge of Allegiance is recited. A button spotted outside the Texas Republican convention asked, “If Obama Is President ... Will We Still Call It the White House?”

But Mr. McCain has condemned racist campaigning and has denounced Republican groups that tried to make an issue of inflammatory statements made by Mr. Obama’s former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah A. Wright Jr., and one of his own supporters who referred to Mr. Obama as “Barack Hussein Obama” at a McCain rally.

Mr. Obama has been more explicit about the role of race in attacks against him in the past, but he is rarely specific about who is behind them. “We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run,” he said in June. “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?’ ” . . .

Read the entire article. This is actually nowhere near as over the top as the NYT editors go in attacking McCain as racist in their blog. Hot Air covers that insane story.

This talk of racism is a sideshow. There is no way Obama or the NYT can possibly make that charge stick against McCain. Even the NYT acknowledges McCain's refusal to tolerate what he considered cheap shots against Mr. Obama. What is not a sideshow is that Obama is ducking McCain, refusing open debates. There are no two ways about it. McCain needs to start highlighting that in literally every ad he runs. Obama's refusal to debate McCain should become a centerpiece of McCain's strategy against Obama. It gives substance to the negatives and highlights just how much of a vaccuous and vapid celebrity Mr. Obama really is, irrespective of his skin coloring.


Dinah Lord said...

Poor Obambi - he and the Dems are so upset that McCain won't play the race card they're playing it for him...

McCain has been taking the high road for too long.

And I think you're right on target about the need for McCain to start ranking on Obambi's failure to debate.

Findalis said...

No matter how he tries to paint himself the victim, he can't do it. He is too arrogant for his own good.