The Corner

The Utility of Obama’s Race Card

Now Fidel Castro agrees with Obama supporters that racism has infected the campaign. Perfect.

As both Victor Davis Hanson and Mark Steyn note, accusations or insinuations of racism have been part of Obama’s campaign strategy since the primaries. The media have cooperated enthusiastically in this endeavor, painting substantive criticisms of Obama as racist.

Obama has deployed the race card so frequently that by now it should be a separate campaign issue: i.e., will Obama govern in the same way? Will opposition to a trillion dollar Obama tax increase be condemned as racist? What about Obama’s plans for scrapping missile defense? Can a senator vote against confirming Deval Patrick to the Supreme Court without evoking images of Bull Connor?

The problem for Obama is that protests of racism have limited utility. It’s unlikely charges of racism will deter Putin from annexing Georgia. Ahmadinejad won’t reconsider obliterating Israel just because he might be called a racist. Financial markets are impervious to cries of racism.

Perhaps the Obama strategy will prove to be brilliant. Maybe there won’t be a voter backlash against Obama’s repeated suggestions that millions of Americans, and Sarah Palin in particular, have hooded robes stashed in their closets. But even if he wins with such a strategy, it’s a risky and toxic way to govern.

Peter Kirsanow — Peter N. Kirsanow is an attorney and a member of the United States Commission on Civil Rights.

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