Final throes strategy

(10 am. – promoted by ek hornbeck)

I had lunch last week with a good friend of mine. She is in her mid-sixties and her husband is in his early seventies. They are white working class people and life-long Democrats. During the primaries, she had noted how interesting it was that she supported Obama and her husband supported Clinton. Last week when we were talking about the election, she mentioned that her husband would reluctantly vote for Obama. For the first time, I asked her what his concerns were about Obama…she said it was his race.

BAM…never saw that one coming. I know we read alot about this, but it felt like a different story coming from such close quarters. I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it since. I wonder what constructs he has in his head that would write-off someone he would otherwise support simply because of his race. I know he’s from an era where that was more common than it is today, but its still hard for me to get my arms around that kind of blatant racism – especially in someone who is otherwise fairly progressive.

Perhaps its because I’ve been thinking about that conversation so much, or maybe there has been an actual shift in the campaign back to racism, but I seem to be hearing about it a lot more over the last few days. I think the later is more the case as the McCain campaign recognizes its in the “final throes” (hope its more true this time than it was when Cheney said it) and they have announced a new surge in negativity.  

I think we’ve already seen how this works. A few months ago, Buhdy wrote that in trying to smear Obama, all they’ve got is black. But we know that those who are overtly racist would never vote for Obama in the first place. As Nicholas Kristof wrote in his column this weekend:

Most of the lost votes aren’t those of dyed-in-the-wool racists. Such racists account for perhaps 10 percent of the electorate and, polling suggests, are mostly conservatives who would not vote for any Democratic presidential candidate.

Rather, most of the votes that Mr. Obama actually loses belong to well-meaning whites who believe in racial equality and have no objection to electing a black person as president – yet who discriminate unconsciously…

Research suggests that whites are particularly likely to discriminate against blacks when choices are not clear-cut and competing arguments are flying about – in other words, in ambiguous circumstances rather like an electoral campaign.

So, how does the McCain/Palin campaign tap into the competing arguments in ambiguous circumstances? Like this:

“Our opponent … is someone who sees America, it seems, as being so imperfect, imperfect enough, that he’s palling around with terrorists who would target their own country,” Palin told a group of donors in Englewood, Colo. A deliberate attempt to smear Obama, McCain’s ticket-mate echoed the line at three separate events Saturday.

This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America,” she said. “We see America as a force of good in this world. We see an America of exceptionalism.”

To me, that whole statement is despicable, but the portion I highlighted is what signals the unconscious discrimination that Kristof was talking about. He’s different from me…the most obvious way is is skin color and name…therefore, I’m not sure I can trust him. And today, William Kristol suggests that Palin will drudge up all the old Reverend Wright racist memes as well. They know that they can afford to “take the gloves off,” but that if Obama does so, it has the potential to cast him as an “angry black man.” If you haven’t read Tim Wise’ essay titled This is Your Nation on White Privilege, I highly recommend it. He powerfully demonstrates the two standards being applied to these campaigns.

I’m not sure that, in the end, this will be an effective strategy (tactic? LOL) for the McCain campaign. But then, the subtlety only needs to get a small percentage of the population to question Obama.

I expect the last few weeks of this campaign will be ugly. And nowhere more so than in the McCain campaign’s attempts to appeal to unconscious racism.  


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  1. it seems so important to me that we learn about unconscious racism, bring it to the light of day, and get rid of it!

    • Alma on October 6, 2008 at 6:56 pm

    A 50 year old white fellow who I would describe as a liberal, and was a Hillary voter.  I heard him on his phone saying he was voting for McCain because he wouldn’t vote for a ******.

    We usually talk politics together but he has stayed silent lately.  I hope his guilty conscience is driving him crazy. I’ve wondered if jealousy doesn’t play a part too.  Seeing a person of color who has done better than them.

    And a big yes, the repugs use key words and phrases to bolster the fear and hate.

    • Edger on October 6, 2008 at 7:04 pm

    Actually, the last resort of cowards.

  2. But his Chicago-style take-over of his current senate seat worries me, and I just don’t believe, the extremes being as far apart as they are, that we can solve the problems in our society by further placating the corporate puppet masters in exchange for crumbs from their table.  That notion just has to come from inexperience.  I still prefer Hillary, but I’m voting for Obama.

    The day when physical appearances are that important to me, I’ll have to break my mirror.

  3. (from TPM)

    My opponent’s touchiness every time he is questioned about his record should make us only more concerned. For a guy who’s already authored two memoirs, he’s not exactly an open book. It’s as if somehow the usual rules don’t apply, and where other candidates have to explain themselves and their records, Senator Obama seems to think he is above all that. Whatever the question, whatever the issue, there’s always a back story with Senator Obama. All people want to know is: What has this man ever actually accomplished in government? What does he plan for America? In short: Who is the real Barack Obama?

    Apparently to this last question, someone in the audience responded “terrorist.” McCain paused but did not respond.

    • kj on October 7, 2008 at 2:28 am

    fairly blatant, if only once said aloud, that Obama’s race is a factor with some of the people i interact with every day.

    one person had a great response… “he’s as white as he is black, why does everyone say he’s black?”

    i found that after the Biden/Palin debate, more people were willing to talk about the election, and that seemed to be in great part due to Biden’s performance on issues and Palin’s performance as window-dressing.

    live in a fairly liberal city this election cycle, but long-held racial attitudes prevail.

    no answers.  all i know to do this time around is converse person-by-person.

  4. is one of the Illuminati’s premier people manipulation tools.  Think about it for a second.  At least in my mind I thought America was coming out of and getting under control the black/white racial division of the 1960s.  I submit that such things like tolerance may take an entire generation to correct as people form most of their ideology around their most productive and youthful years and the times they grew up in.  Having worked in a diverse enviornment I can say it is productive having other opinions in the mix but the left in their Kumbahya zealotry does and has gone beyond the normal and logical let’s teach people how to get along and instead opted for  we are gonna shove race mixing down your throat like it or not meme.  You, you WASP motherfucker get to bend over and shut your fucking mouth about any inconvienience this may have cost you.

    Now I have said I thought we as a country made great progress on the black white issue but what did happen.  Black/white was simply not enough of an issue so years of open borders brought what the right wing calls “crimaliens”.  My suburban neighbor has his “Gwats” landscaping his yard.  All of this though simply serves the purpose of lowering wage standards for us all.  If you don’t want to do this work then an oppressed non-indigenous person is available to do it for you at a discount price.

    Now if corporate Murika wants to be truely diverse and really embrace the true melting pot I want to see the labels of the paint section of Home Despot labeled in every language of the world, even Farsi and not just the demographically accepted,politically correct Paint/Pintura.

    Fire away you minions of Kumbahyadom I’ve still got my Apocalyptic horse and the definitive alternate worldview.

    • kj on October 7, 2008 at 4:09 am

    Gracies.  😉

    • plf515 on October 7, 2008 at 4:12 am

    to Obama.

    And McCain’s attempts to tap into their unconscious racism will backfire.  Because these people do not want to be racists.  And the way to defeat unconscious racism is to make it conscious, where it can be dealt with, and overcome.

    And we shall overcome.

  5. on Palin in Florida.

    Worse, Palin’s routine attacks on the media have begun to spill into ugliness. In Clearwater, arriving reporters were greeted with shouts and taunts by the crowd of about 3,000. Palin then went on to blame Katie Couric’s questions for her “less-than-successful interview with kinda mainstream media.” At that, Palin supporters turned on reporters in the press area, waving thunder sticks and shouting abuse. Others hurled obscenities at a camera crew. One Palin supporter shouted a racial epithet at an African American sound man for a network and told him, “Sit down, boy.”

    The hatred she’s fanning is palpable.

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