"Who's Playing the Race Card?"
If the man Toni Morrison called the first black president can be turned into a closet racist, then anyone can.
And Obama has shown no hesitation in doing so to McCain. Just weeks ago, in Springfield, Mo., and elsewhere, he warned darkly that George Bush and John McCain were going to try to frighten you by saying that, among other scary things, Obama has "a funny name" and "doesn't look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills."
McCain has never said that, nor anything like that. When asked at the time to produce one instance of McCain deploying race, the Obama campaign could not. Yet here was Obama firing a pre-emptive charge of racism against a man who had not indulged in it. An extraordinary rhetorical feat, and a dishonorable one.
What makes this all the more dismaying is that it comes from Barack Obama, who has consistently presented himself as a healer, a man of a new generation above and beyond race, the man who would turn the page on the guilt-tripping grievance politics of Jesse Jackson and Al Sharpton.
I once believed him.
The interesting question is what effect the Obama campaign's preemptive deployment of the race card has actually had on voting. I don't think it helped him in the Ohio and Pennsylvania primaries, for instance. Which voters, if any, are actually swayed by this kind of dishonesty? Maybe its just a way to keep one of Obama's strongest constituencies -- the press -- on his side. The media love a good controversy, even a manufactured controversy, about race. They like to preen and strut and pretend it's Maycomb County, Alabama, in the 1930's, and they're Atticus Finch. Obama's race-baiting rhetoric lets them play out their little moral-crusader fantasies, and they love him for it.