Politics & Policy

Racy Politics

Barack Obama has made a mistake, and his campaign knows it. For days, his online supporters have been pretending that an ad comparing Obama to bubble-headed celebrities had a racial subtext (the alleged subtext being that he wants to bed them). Obama decided that it was time to play the race card again. “Nobody 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. 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.”

Obama has gotten away with this despicable assertion before. At a Florida fundraiser in June, he again suggested that nobody could have any rational reason for opposing him. So: “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?” Neither the press nor the Republicans protested.

But this time was different. A McCain spokesman said that Obama had played the race card “from the bottom of the deck.” Obama’s campaign, not used to this type of resistance, began a clumsy retreat. One adviser said that Obama was referring only to his relative lack of experience, not his race. Another said, “Barack Obama in no way believes that the McCain campaign is using race as an issue.” We’re sure that is true: He doesn’t believe it. He is willing to say it, however, for political advantage, at least until he is called on it.

But we suspect the race card will resurface, played by Obama’s supporters if not by the candidate himself. For them, no charge against Obama can be made innocent of racial bias. Say that he is presumptuous, and they will accuse you of calling him an “uppity black man” — as though the fact that racists have called all confident black men arrogant means that it is automatically wrong to notice the trait in any of them. His ties to the Rev. Wright? Off limits. His wife’s provocative remarks? Now you’re slandering a black woman: You’re racist and probably sexist, too. All of these paranoid interpretations of normal political back-and-forth follow naturally from the premise that there can be no legitimate reason to resist the One.

The culture that has congealed around Obama wants to make voting for McCain a sign of bad taste at best, racism at worst. It is an electoral form of the political correctness that has soured so many people on the campus Left. McCain should resist this stultifying orthodoxy every time it appears, with brio and without remorse.

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