Tuesday, January 15, 2008

No race card up my sleeve, nosiree

I was rather disappointed to see the way Obama felt the need to step in to the "Clinton's going racist," "No she's not!" argument, and be the Reasonable Black Man (who abhors racism, but doesn't think you're racist at all, not one bit!) and make a big deal about how not-racist Clinton is. I've heard the idea floated that the tone-deaf-to-plain-racist comments coming from Clinton's "surrogates" (I'm just not sure what's up with that term) are intended to incense black politicians, and therefore prompt a bunch of angry black folk to show up both and angry and black on teevee and scare white liberal voters about the prospect of racism being amongst their own motivations for voting how they plan.

But if that's the case, Obama has played to the defensive white liberals' feelings very well, by downplaying race as an issue in the election. Kevin Drum quotes Obama:

I think that I may disagree with Senator Clinton or Senator Edwards on how to get there, but we share the same goals. We're all Democrats. We all believe in civil rights. We all believe in equal rights. We all believe that regardless of race or gender that people should have equal opportunities....I think that Bill Clinton and Hillary Clinton have historically and consistently been on the right side of civil rights issues. I think they care about the African-American community and that they care about all Americans and they want to see equal rights and justice in this country.

Given all that's been said and done, it's arguable that Obama is giving the Clintons (and Democrats in general) too much credit. But Obama is working to win a large number of votes (even from defensive white people), and if it takes a pep talk from a Real Live Black Person to comfort a white liberal about his or her own unresolved issues with race to do so, then I can see why he'd go that route.

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