A story is told that a guy gets a call from a Democratic Pollster. The voice on the other end asks “is Senator Obama your choice for president, or are you a racist?” Only a partial exaggeration, if you listen to the Democratic talking heads on the news network of your choice, any criticism of Senator Obama is a veiled attempt at racism
Striking a theme that goes back at least as far as the Reagan years, they’re [the Democrats] already preparing a moral case against the Republicans, should the latter win. It goes like this. Democrats win if the campaign sticks to the issues, especially economic issues. But Republicans win by appealing to baser instincts like fear and, especially, race:
The Race Libel By INVESTOR’S BUSINESS DAILY Politics: Trying to figure out why their man doesn’t poll better, liberals are starting to fall back on an old excuse — that Republicans win only by appealing to voters’ worst instincts. “Much of America’s political conversation is couched in code,” says Anna Quindlen, writing earlier this month in Newsweek. And what’s the code telling us? That the campaign of John McCain is playing a “Caucasian card,” Quindlen’s way of saying that it’s appealing to white racism. We’re hearing more and more such talk as the summer drags on and Barack Obama struggles to put McCain away. Obama leads in the polls, but not by much. “Generic” poll matchups — with party labels only — suggest he should be doing a lot better. So what could be going wrong for Obama? Any number of things. His views are well left of center, he has accomplished little (except for running an efficient political campaign), and he is a rookie in foreign affairs. Voters barely know him, and they’re trying to figure out what really makes him tick. Also, as much as this may come as a shock, voters may not be as sour on Republicans as polls have suggested. The war in Iraq took too long, but it is now ending in something that looks a lot like victory. Gas prices are falling, and the economy may not be going down the tubes after all. Americans may not be so desperate for change, especially if it means bigger government and higher taxes. But some see more sinister forces at work. Striking a theme that goes back at least as far as the Reagan years, they’re already preparing a moral case against the Republicans, should the latter win. It goes like this: Democrats win if the campaign sticks to the issues, especially economic issues. But Republicans win by appealing to baser instincts like fear and, especially, race. So if McCain comes from behind in November, it won’t be because he is firmer in a crisis or has views closer to the political mainstream. It will be because his campaign pushed the button of white racism. Quindlen was trotting out that old libel with her “Caucasian card” piece. John Heilemann in New York magazine offers a more fleshed-out version of the same argument. He says the “celebrity” ad that so infuriated the Obama campaign was “ingeniously coded” to tap white resentments of blacks who are seen as unfairly profiting from racial preferences: “The real subtext of the ad was to paint Obama as a featherweight figure whose fame is undeserving, the result of ‘natural’ gifts as opposed to hard work or skill.” This isn’t as loopy a take as that of the New York Times’ editorial page, which saw a veiled reference to miscegenation in the juxtaposition of Obama with Paris Hilton and Britney Spears. But it still seems a willing denial of the ad’s obvious point that, behind all the hype, Obama is still pretty much an unknown quantity. Of course there are racists in the electorate, and they come from all races. A few will probably vote their prejudice, too. Vastly more Americans will make their decisions based on unimpeachable factors, such as depth of experience and records of accomplishment. But we are already seeing how the left is trying to taint McCain and his campaign with the old Republican-as-racist libel. He’s appealing to base instincts, they say, by speaking in code. Attacking Obama’s thin resume is a coded way of tapping white resentment against affirmative action. In fact, any suggestion that Obama is not ready to be president will no doubt be framed as a racial “subtext.” It reminds us of the old joke about the definition of a racist: Someone who’s losing an argument with a liberal.