Friday, October 31, 2008

The Politics of Race

I was watching Chris Mathews last night on CNN's Hardball. Chris was expressing his relief that neither Barack Obama nor John McCain have brought race into the election. According to Matthews, the fact that John McCain refuses to use Reverend Wright as part of his smear campaign against Obama, Mathews believes race hasn't been a factor. He's wrong.

When a recent New York Times editorial accused the McCain camp of racism, Mathews scoffed. But the fact is, racism has run ramphant in this election. It was apparent during the debates. It's a prominent thread running through many of McCain's ads. It has even played a role in, how news coverage is interpreted and disseminated.

Take the issue of experience. McCain's attacks against Obama challenge his alleged "inexperience." Obama served in the Illinois senate for eight years (1996-2004) before becoming a U.S. senator in 2005. That's twelve years....which is more actual legislative experience than Hillary Clinton, who became a U.S senator in 2001, but had no legislative experience before that. How much more experience does he need?

Bush only served eight years, or two terms as Governor before becoming president. Was he called "naive" when he first ran for president? Labeled "inexperienced?"

And what exactly are we talking about? Experience with what? Foreign policy? If that's the gauge then no first-term U.S. president for the past 32 years, save one, has had "experience" before they were elected.

Yet in debate after debate McCain looked down his nose at Obama's lack of "experience." Time and time again he rolled his eyes with disdain at what he called Barack's naiveté. The charge has nary been challenged by the press, who repeat the ridiculous assertion as if it were a given.

More scary is the number of people who actually buy the charge that Obama, a magna cum laude graduate from Harvard, is somehow lacking in reasoning capacity. Question is: How many similarly educated Harvard graduates finishing at the top of their class would be branded as "naive?"

In fact the converse is true. As Robert Silvers recently observed in the Huffington Post: "...if you run a tally, Obama's record over the last year shows a remarkable degree of foresight, even-tempered judgment, and a real willingness to make hard calls that aren't the politically popular flavor of the week. Indeed, almost every one of Obama's foreign policy positions has been vindicated."

Here's a recent New York Times article that explores this issue.

It fascinates me that so many McCain supporters claim that Obama doesn't have a plan for the country, or they don't know what his plan is. How could that be after, in debate after debate, Obama was the person focused on actual policy issues while McCain kept repeating old sound bytes?

If they didn't hear Obama's proposed policies, what on earth were they listening to? In one debate McCain repeatedly ask Obama "how much is fee you'll charge small businesses for health care," even after Obama stressed repeatedly stressed that there was no fee.

Some questions for McCain:
What's all the fuss about Bill Ayers or Rev. Jeremiah Wright? One of McCain's chief political advisors is Richard Quinn, editor of the racist Southern Partisan Review.

Wright was Obama's former pastor. Obama was eight years old when Ayers was involved with the Weather Underground.

But Quinn advises McCain NOW. To get a clearer picture, Fairness and Accuracy in Reporting (FAIR) describes the Southern Partisan as "a publication that defends slavery, white separatism, apartheid and David Duke.'' Quinn, himself has supported Duke as a "political maverick." Say what???

Judging from McCain's track record on issues effecting people of color, maybe that's one association worth learning more about.

1 comment:

Bryan Shields said...

Hiya :)

I'm not defending one side or the other. I really don't know enough about McCain to judge if he is racist or not.

Accounting for solely what you've written, I don't quite connected the dots on how the campaign has been unfairly baised due to Obama's race (ethnicity).

I honestly look at people's words at face value without trying to think, "well, what they really mean is..." As a matter of fact, what I most respected about Biden from the debates was when he told the story of learning to never question a person's motives. I think that is commendable character.

But using that same ideal, I haven't heard anything from McCain's campaign, that taken at face value and without assuming ulterior motive, to suggest Obama is not a fit presidential candidate solely because of his ethnicity.

Actually, I recall one or two of Obama's speeches where he brought up that If he weren't a... then he wouldn't be... , which I felt was unfairly playing the "race" card.

I guess I could look at it as, "well, if he were white would they challenge his experience then?" but I don't. Sorry to disagree.

But, by the way, I do think the major opposition to Bush at the time was his lack of experience especially in light of Dole's. I could be wrong tho. :)

Love you!