2008 Race and the Race
posted by August 1 at 12:20 PMon
Maybe it’s because it’s a sunny Friday, but I’m having a hard time staying interested in all the finger-pointing over who injected race into the Obama-McCain contest first, what it all means, and what Paris and Britney have to do with any of this.
I’m sure my lack of interest also stems from feeling like I’ve seen this episode before. The McCain camp is very clearly trying to ignite (without being too overt about it) the same kind of white backlash against Obama that Hillary and Bill Clinton, circa March through May 2008, were trying to ignite.
Here’s how it goes: Inject race into the campaign. Then, when everyone starts to wring their hands about it, claim that it was actually Obama who injected race into the campaign first. (This is not very hard to do since Obama’s presence ipso facto injects race into the campaign.) Then, take it a step further: Claim that Obama is “playing the race card,” position yourself as the victim of reverse racism and white-guilt-tripping, and then wait for the disgruntled white masses to say: “Yeah, me too! I hate it when that happens!”
If it’s not obvious to you that this is the game that McCain is playing right now, watch this clip:
It didn’t work very well for Hillary Clinton to morph from the tough Commander in Chief who was Ready on Day One into the symbol of all working class whites everywhere who feel they are victims of reverse racism. I’m not sure it will work for McCain, either.
But he does have one thing going for him that Hillary Clinton didn’t have going for her: There are far more people in the general election pool of voters (as opposed to the Democratic primary pool of voters) who might be receptive to a white candidate pretending to be the victim of reverse racism and/or race-card-playing.