Politics & Media
Aug 05, 2008, 09:31AM

Crying Wolf

Last week's campaign ad that placed Barack Obama in the same narrative as Britney Spears and Paris Hilton has generated a lot of predictably race-centric outrage by leading Democrats. But one progressive writer is upset that his party is falling into the same bad race-baiting habits as they have for decades. Instead of crying, the ad should have been ridiculed as the outrageous thrust of a desperate, cornered opponent.

In our view, liberal reaction was foolish all week. On Sunday, we thought Kerry got massacred as he boo-hooed, blubbered, wept and wailed about that naughty ad. Almost surely, David Gergen then made matters worse with his view of another McCain ad.

What happened last week when McCain ran that ad? Instead of laughing at the ad and saying it showed that McCain is a fly-weight, we did what we most love to do—we started a fight about race, casting ourselves as the high-minded party and squealing, shrieking, complaining and yelping about McCain’s misconduct. Josh Marshall was one who leaped to this stance, insisting that the use of Spears and Hilton was racial—and racially troubling. Yesterday, the results began rolling in—and only a certain kind of “liberal” could be surprised by the numbers. At TPM, Josh posted the following e-mail. Later, he had to clean up what the e-mailer said about Tapper (same link):

E-MAIL TO TPM (8/3/08): Disquieting Rasmussen numbers this morning—McCain's crying racism worked. 53 percent of Americans, including the same percentage of whites and half of all Democrats, think that Obama's "dollar bill" remark was "racist." Only 22 percent think the Paris Hilton ad was racist—most of those being black people, of course (only 18 percent of white people took this view).

It was amazingly foolish to scream and yell about that Spears/Hilton ad—except to say that its foolishness shows that the GOP wants to distract you. It was especially dumb to discuss it in terms of race—to discuss its alleged “dog-whistle”—since that’s a claim that will almost surely strike most undecided voters as far-fetched, improbable, odd. It wasn’t smart to react that way—unless we don’t care who wins in November. If we only care about being “right” (in our minds), then that reaction made good sense, of course.


Register or Login to leave a comment