Monday, August 4

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Mr. Greenscreens, mostly by proxy:
TPM Reader RY keeps us posted ...

Disquieting Rasmussen numbers this morning--McCain's crying racism worked. 53% of Americans, including the same % of whites and half of all Democrats, thing that Obama's "dollar bill" remark was "racist." Only 22% think the Paris Hilton ad was racist--most of those being black people, of course (only 18% of white people took this view).

REALLY, now:  get some exercise, expose your skin to some sunlight, eat some green, leafy things. Take a few deep cleansing breaths. Busy your hands with something other than a keyboard. Take a few minutes and get your fucking story straight.

Back in the snows of New Hampshire, before he was buried by that first white avalanche, Barack Obama was leading an army of people who'd previously been turned off by politics, who were unfettered by participation in, or even a workable knowledge of, our Current Partisan Morass, and were boldly post-racial, unlike the wheezing, demented invalids of the old Democratic party, the one that had fought real racism tooth and nail and heroic non-violence and shotgun ambush, and won. Seven months later a majority of white Americans is parading around in hoods and bedsheets.

Running into this stuff for the umpteenth time I was reminded of the bit in Annie Hall, where Woody doesn't want Diane Keaton to smoke pot before sex because then he won't know if the laughs are genuine. How many times do you have to trot this stuff out for an easily entertained audience that's already convinced? (For that matter, how many times do you get to ignore whatever it is your candidate says, since Senator Obama had already said McCain's reply was not racist, but cynical?) This Racist! Racist! routine is neither smart, nor helpful, nor good politics. It may have seriously backfired against Hillary Clinton (down and out in New Hampshire, still fighting in Guam, thanks to the sudden appearance of the old-style racist Democrat, part of the still-kicking throngs who'd cast their first votes for Wilson, apparently), and it has become a constant stream of hot urea a full month before Labor Day.

Let's look, since I suppose we must, at that Rasmussen Poll. First off, it's stupid, if I'm not repeating myself. Second, it simply asks whether comments were "racist", without providing any definition. We are going to go waaaay out on a limb here and suggest that McCain supporters, and Republicans in general, have a strong, one might even say pathological, need to play the reverse racist, How Come There's No White History Month? minstrel routine at every public opportunity, as the Republican record on race is a source of Never-Ending Shame, and crypto-racism a source of Highly Reliable Votes. They went 2/3 for the "Obama comments were racist" line. We might bear in mind that these are self-described Republicans, and that of the people who respond affirmatively to the statement, "People never lie to pollsters and can't ever figure out what answers are preferable", 98% turn out to be "Someone who wants to make political hay out of the results". The remaining two percent were Employees of the Polling Firm.  And they all need to spend a month going door to door, demanding that the 90% of Americans who believe in God pony up for past-due collection Sundays.

So, let's say that the poll, which simply by being conducted manufactures the issue in some minds, has a marked suggestion that some large portion of the country does not share the definition of racism favored by some TPM correspondent with a hyperventilation problem, or else choses to toss the dart in some other direction. Perhaps this is news to you. If so, let me add my best wishes now that you've emerged from that decade-long coma.

I know, I know, these people are not running the Obama campaign, and Thank God for small favors, it's poorly enough run as it is. My one, self-described benign suggestion is that the continually-shifting "Progressive" rationale for the total embrace of a Centrist Democrat has, to this point, been getting shot down like the Iraqi air force, and maybe it's time to park it and try listening for once. And I don't mean like this:
The good news this morning? God Bless David Gergen! Really--he was on This Week and said (check the video or transcript for exact wording), "When McCain's camp calls Obama "The Messiah" and "The One", he's really calling him "upitty." I'm from the South, and we understand what that means. That's code." Jake Tapper looked like he had been pole axed. Donna Brazille knew what he was talking about, of course. But GS, George Will, and Tapper had to be bluntly told the the way the world works by Mr. Blandly Bi-partisan....

Here's the video:

Y'know, Mr. Blandly Bi-partisan (an odd epithet from an Obama supporter) worked for Nixon, Ford, Reagan and Bush I, and I'll be damned if I can recall a single instance of him denouncing, As A Native of the South, crypto-racist buzzwords back in their heyday, when they were flying like champagne corks at a Lee Atwater soirée. It's possible I was cowering in the basement at the time, but I'm still somewhat disinclined to give him credit for saying so now that his paychecks come from somebody else.   The idea that Republicans painting a Democrat as an "outsider...The Other" suddenly has racial overtones owes an apology to Joe McCarthy. And that really goes double if you can't bring it up without claiming he ran the fucking table, "pole-axing" Jake Tapper along the way, when he obviously did neither, and maybe it's just best to avoid posting the clip.  

It's a long way to November; you've been hearing this since January, but not listening. Now, the Celebrity thing is working--it doesn't matter whether you like it--and the "That's another word for Uppity" thing is not. And it doesn't matter whether you like it. The idea that McCain--like Hillary Clinton before him--should just stop campaigning and concede is infantile, and even if it worked to whatever extent in Democratic primaries, it's not going to work in the general. Americans take their decision in a Presidential election seriously. Not seriously enough to actually vote, generally speaking, and not seriously enough to actually inform themselves of the issues, but seriously enough to question where their vote, if any, should go. Like it or not the election is shaping up as a referendum on Barack Obama; like it or no he's being perceived as an attractive speechifier who's light on resumé and long on malleability. He needs to come out and articulate positive reasons for voters to support him, and to quit reacting to every piece of news and every magazine cover that comes down the pike. Nobody gives a fuck about that Dollar Bill shit except terminal insider wannabees; nobody fucking watches This Week, in warm weather, and nobody gives a fuck who David Gergen is or what he thinks of Charlton Heston, and the next person Mr. Blandishment "pole-axes" with one of his arguments will have the honor of being the first.  U.S. Fucking News and World Report only exists because high school debate teams use it in place of research.  Fortunately, there's a long way to November, and there's no one in American politics right now better able than Senator Obama to step up and make a case.  Now'd be a great time to start.  To this point he has stepped into the role of Celebrity, and he's left his chin open.  It's well past time that the campaign was turned upside down and the people who've been running him like it's 2005 and he's hoping to be somebody's Veep choice fell out. The hard appraisal's gonna come; if the candidate, and the campaign, and, to a small degree, his internet minions--too late there for any real calls for action--don't demand it, it'll be done by the toothless inbreds of Flyover America, so recently and miraculously risen from the Critical List.


James Stripes said...

I think you've nailed the reason certain tabloid "News" weeklies exist. Now to the point: the fact that anyone's deck even has a "race card" that can be played is the clearest evidence of the futility of such polls. Labeling things racist or not so--whether it's black men and white bimbos, or the line of succession upon dollar bills--does nothing whatsoever to address the systemic inequities in American social, political, and economic life from the first steps John Smith took off the boat in 1607 to the present day. Real racism, and the persistent class divisions it facilitates, did not disappear when they named a holiday for Martin Luther King, Jr., so that school teachers and the media could labor side-by-side to distort and gentrify his struggle for justice.

The central racial issue in this and every U.S. Presidential election at least since 1968 is just this: the Republican record on race is a source of Never-Ending Shame.

Anonymous said...

OK Maddogriley, 3-2-1 HURL!

Unknown said...

apologies if you were being snarky but talk about whitewashing history if you think it was "the old Democratic party, the one that had fought real racism tooth and nail and heroic non-violence and shotgun ambush, and won. " Do you seriously believe that?

James Briggs Stratton "Doghouse" Riley said...

Well, no, of course it was the Democratic party which enforced Jim Crow laws in the South. The Democratic party became appended to that struggle, but unlike Christianity swallowing Greek thought, it was partly earned at least, by Johnson's political courage.

The line is inelegant; it got away from me, in part because I'm still really insulted by the mid-primary on suggestion that "old Democratic voters" (half the party) were supporting Clinton based on their hidden racism when, even on the face of it they'd had their entire adult lives to turn Republican. The intention, anyway, was to suggest something of the truncated historical understanding of the inherent in the charge.

LittlePig said...

On the other hand, if Brother Gergen *literally* pole-axed Jake Trapper, that would be Must See TV.