It’s times like this that make me wonder why I bother.
A columnist/commentator on the political beat at TIME Magazine, Karen Tumulty, is the latest to be so desperate to make this a racism-tinged campaign she’s liable to see it everywhere she looks. This time, she’s indicted the McCain ad team for putting more than one black man in an anti-Obama spot. On top of that, she slammed McCain’s camp for leaving a relevant white man out of the ad; had she simply paid a single quick visit to the official McCain site she’d’ve known that was because that same man was given his own ad entirely.
There will always be cranks who think this way, but when high-profile figures validate such conspiratorial paranoia, it ceases to matter whether or not it’s true. If Obama loses the election, racism must have taken it from him. If he wins, racism must have robbed him of a landslide. If he wins by a landslide, racism must have robbed him of the first unanimous Electoral College victory since George Washington. It looks like the cranks will be dragged into the mainstream for at least another four years.
See the TIME post, and the story of its cringeworthiness, below the break.
In just the last two weeks, we’ve weathered:
- A Talking Points Memo sneerfest accusing the McCain campaign of using the word “disrespectful” as a racial code word (this, in the spirit of similiar — entirely unfounded — charges thrown at Republicans in general by Sen. Barack Obama and Gov. Kathleen Sebelius during the summer);
- Jack Cafferty’s sterling detective work for CNN, which led him to assert that white racism is the only thing that could possibly explain why Obama is not running away with the election;
- Casual allegations by two Ohio state legislators of outright mass racism (which didn’t appear to include Republicans…doubtless the Obama 2008 You’re-A-Dirty-Racist Brigade will distribute a white paper sometime soon to correct this oversight).
All of these disgusting exercises in venomous, self-important hatemongering, without a shred of evidence, have appeared repeatedly in the press. Thankfully, not all of the responding commentary came from bobble-headed finger-waggers who make a living stoking racial tensions (or arranging for them when they’re not sufficietly manifest).
Then again, I wonder if the tide of finger-waggers might soon drown the already overtaxed number of people who actually wish to hold those who throw around charges of racism accountable.
Karen Tumulty has written in high bloggy dudgeon about the latest McCain ad, “Advice,” which features former Fannie Mae CEO Franklin Raines, tying him to Obama as a financial advisor, citing multiple mentions of Raines as such in the Washington Post.
The money quote of Tumulty’s arch commentary:
This is hardly subtle: Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman.
Talk about “hardly subtle.” She goes on:
Let me stipulate: Obama’s Fannie Mae connections are completely fair game. But this ad doesn’t even mention a far more significant tie — that of Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman… Instead, it relies on a fleeting and tenuous reference in a Washington Post Style section story to suggest that Obama’s principal economic adviser is former Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines. Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black.
And the image of the victim doesn’t seem accidental either, given the fact that older white women are a key swing constituency in this election.
We’ve seen this before: in the Senate race in Tennessee two years ago, when the RNC put out an ad that ended with a flirty young woman saying, “Harold, call me!” The message of the ad — that Republican Bob Corker’s Democratic opponent, then-Rep. Harold Ford, Jr., went on lavish trips to parties, including one at the Playboy Mansion — was lost when Ford backers howled at the sight of a pro-Corker ad associating an attractive woman (who is white) with Rep. Ford (who is black). Today you can ask Senator Corker and Citizen Ford how that tactic worked.
By the way, that “fleeting and tenuous reference” was actually three separate identifications of Raines in WaPo as an economic or financial advisor to Obama in July and August, none of which were ever challenged by the Obama campaign (until now, of course).
The McCain campaign wrote to bring Tumulty’s attention to the fact that they hadn’t forgotten about Jim Johnson at all, and had in fact given him an ad all his own and released it that day.
Tumulty, after taking the Obama camp’s denial at face value, decided she knew after all what evil lurks in the hearts of Republicans, harrumphing on her blog:
I grew up in Texas. I know what this stuff looks like.
Quick tip: Tumulty isn’t helping Obama by taking cheap shots at Texas.