Seriously. The use of the “race card” in this campaign is getting very old, very fast. Obama has been using it against Republicans repeatedly over the last few months. Back in June I did a post about this statement by Obama: “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?” He said this despite the fact that McCain has been outspoken against the use of race and ethnicity as an argument against Obama. McCain has called upon the GOP to pull ads that used Obama’s associations with Rev. Wright to argue that Obama is racist. In the months following this comment, Obama went on to make a number of other, similar comments, including this one:
“Nobody really 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.”
Obama was forced to backpeddle on this one because neither he nor his campaign could come up with a single example of McCain using race either directly or indirectly in the campaign.
Some in the media have long been arguing that any criticism of Obama is seen as racism. Now it has gone even further. In the last day or so, it was revealed that Gwyn Ifill, the moderator of VP debate, is writing a book titled: “The Breakthrough: Politics and Race in the Age of Obama.” A fact which, by the way, she failed to mention to the Commission on Presidential Debates.
Now the assumption that a book titled “The Age of Obama” is pro-Obama (and Ifill is therefore biased) is being called racist because it apparently suggests that all black people are pro-Obama. The problem with that argument is that the title speaks for itself. As Jim Geraghty states: “Implicit in Ifill’s book proposal is the concept that Obama is more than another version of Geraldine Ferraro, a groundbreaking nominee on a major-party ticket who ultimately lost and became something of a historical footnote; it is that he and his name will define the age we are currently living in. If that’s not “pro-Obama”, what is?” Exactly. And Ifill’s interview on the book makes it clear that it is pro-Obama when talking about the subjects of her book which include Obama, Newark Mayor Cory Booker and Mass. Governor Deval Patrick, among others:
“They all chose to get into politics for the most upstanding of reasons, and they all have achieved much more than their parents could have hoped… This book is about a generation of people who took seriously the achievements that their parents fought for. They knew that Martin Luther King did what he did so that they could do what they’re doing. And they decided to follow through…”
Someone actually said to me yesterday, “Would they be making an issue out of this if it involved two white people?” YES! And Ifill made the same argument: “Do you think they made the same assumptions about Lou Cannon (who is white) when he wrote his book about Reagan?” Asked if there were racial motives at play, she said, “I don’t know what it is. I find it curious.” Do you think the Obama campaign would allow someone who is writing a book about the “Age of McCain” or the “Age of Reagan” to moderate the debate? Of course not.
So spare me the righteous indignation for daring to question Gwyn Ifill’s impartiality. Criticism of her has nothing to do with racism. In fact, I would argue that she is getting more of a pass because people are afraid of coming off as racist. Criticism of someone who is a minority can actually be legitimate and have nothing whatsoever to do with race — like when the “moderator” of a debate has a financial stake in the outcome of the election. If this kind of tactic is what we will see from Obama over the next four years if he becomes President, it will be frightening. When dissent is crushed in the name of racism, what next?