2008 “I Am Not a Racist”
posted by August 4 at 11:00 AMon
So says Bill Clinton.
Is it overly cynical to think that the timing of this statement might be a subtle bit of Clinton revenge—a way of him helping out McCain by adding to current meme about Obama playing the race card? (And against respected old white people, no less!)
Meanwhile, for a great analysis of why McCain is now trying to exploit white resentment for electoral gain, see this new piece in The American Prospect:
The McCain campaign’s apparently race-neutral approach, and its subsequent accusation that the Obama campaign is playing the race card, is a well-thought-out strategy — it is pure Nixon. In his recent chronicle of conservative political history in The New Yorker, George Packer describes Pat Buchanan’s plan for exploiting political divisions, particularly ones of a racial nature. Buchanan’s assessment was that they could “cut the Democratic Party and country in half; my view is that we would have far the larger half.”
In a dispute about race, the McCain campaign knows it will end up with the larger half. For the most part, most white people’s experience with race isn’t one of racial discrimination. They can only relate to racial discrimination in the abstract. What white people can relate to is the fear of being unjustly accused of racism. This is the larger half. This is why allegations of racism often provoke more outrage than actual racism, because most of the country can relate to one (the accusation of racism) easier than the other (actual racism). For this reason, in a political conflict over race, the McCain campaign has the advantage, because saying the race card has been played is actually the ultimate race card.