From today's New York Times:
Spare me any more drivel about the high-mindedness of John McCain. You knew something was up back in March when, in his first ad of the general campaign, Mr. McCain had himself touted as “the American president Americans have been waiting for.”And it gets worse:
There was nothing subtle about that attempt to position Senator Obama as the Other, a candidate who might technically be American but who remained in some sense foreign, not sufficiently patriotic and certainly not one of us — the “us” being the genuine red-white-and-blue Americans who the ad was aimed at.
Now, from the hapless but increasingly venomous McCain campaign, comes the slimy Britney Spears and Paris Hilton ad. The two highly sexualized women (both notorious for displaying themselves to the paparazzi while not wearing underwear) are shown briefly and incongruously at the beginning of a commercial critical of Mr. Obama.Huh? Childish? Maybe. Desperate? Sure. But racist? Are you kidding me? The ads implied that Obama was a celebrity, an empty suit. There was nothing in that ad to imply sexual activity between a black man and a white woman.
The Republican National Committee targeted Harold Ford with a similarly disgusting ad in 2006 when Mr. Ford, then a congressman, was running a strong race for a U.S. Senate seat in Tennessee. The ad, which the committee described as a parody, showed a scantily clad woman whispering, “Harold, call me.”
Both ads were foul, poisonous and emanated from the upper reaches of the Republican Party. (What a surprise.) Both were designed to exploit the hostility, anxiety and resentment of the many white Americans who are still freakishly hung up on the idea of black men rising above their station and becoming sexually involved with white women.
The race card may have worked against the Clintons, but it will backfire in the general election. Look at how quickly Obama backed off his "presidents on the currency" comment.
Earth to Bob Herbert: Paranoid accusations of racism do NOT help Barack Obama. For the sake of the progressive movement, please shut up.
UPDATE: While most of our side of the blogosphere seems to agree with Mr. Herbert's contention that the ad is racist, the majority of voters, according to a new Rasmussen poll, are with me:
Sixty-nine percent (69%) of the nation’s voters say they’ve seen news coverage of the McCain campaign commercial that includes images of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton and suggests that Barack Obama is a celebrity just like them. Of those, just 22% say the ad was racist while 63% say it was not.I firmly believe the reason Obama "shifted" on offshore oil-drilling was to get the media attention off what clearly was a losing issue for him--race.
However, Obama’s comment that his Republican opponent will try to scare people because Obama does not look like all the other presidents on dollar bills was seen as racist by 53%. Thirty-eight percent (38%) disagree.