Commentary Magazine


The Race Card, 2008

During his appearance on Fox’s “Special Report w/ Brit Hume,” Charles Krauthammer was asked about the statement by Representative John Lewis, a prominent member of the civil rights leadership, who accused Senator McCain and Governor Palin  of “sowing the seeds of hatred and division, and there is no need for this hostility in our political discourse.  There was a governor of the state of Alabama, George Wallace. He never fired a gun, but he created the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans who only desired to exercise their constitutional rights.”

In response, Krauthammer said this:

When John McCain runs an ad with a white woman, Paris Hilton in it, he is accused of racism. He runs an ad with Franklin Raines, the former head of Fannie Mae in it, who is African-American, and that’s racist. And then he runs an ad with William Ayers, who is a white male in it, and that’s racist.

If it weren’t so comical, these promiscuous accusations of racism, it would be tragic.

The Obama campaign has been playing the race card over and over again. Look, this is a campaign that in the primaries succeeded in painting Bill Clinton as a racist.

Now, Clinton, with all of his flaws, this is a man who throughout his career from governor of Arkansas to president of the United States and beyond, has been a great and sincere friend of African-Americans who shared and tried to advance their aspirations. So if you can pull off a trick like that on Bill Clinton, you can pull it off on Republicans.

And look what Obama has said. He’s the one who raised the “Barack Hussein Obama” a year or two ago in which he said the Hussein is actually an asset and would be an asset in dealing with Muslims abroad. He’s the one who openly said that the Republicans will say I’m black, they will say he’s scary. They will say he’s different. They will say he doesn’t look like the guy on the dollar bill.

That is Obama preemptively accusing McCain of racism, which is a scurrilous charge. Racism is a serious charge in our country, and a false accusation is doubly serious. As we saw in the Duke lacrosse case, it can destroy lives. Given our history, it ought to be used with great care. And to accuse preemptively McCain of racism even before there is any evidence of it, and there has not been any evidence of it before or since, is scurrilous.

They say patriotism is the last refuge of the scoundrel. Accusations of racism is the last refuge of the liberal scoundrel, and it has been used again and again on the part of the Obama campaign.

The promiscuous use of the racist branding iron has steadily drained the charge of any real meaning, which is quite a bad thing, since racism still exists and needs to be confronted. But to charge people with racism for illegitimate reasons, which is certainly the case here, means that people will increasingly roll their eyes at the charge.

Beyond that is the evidence, as if any more was needed, that Senator Obama’s promise to run a post-racial, high-minded, unifying campaign turned out to be a mirage. Those of us who have followed Obama over these many months are coming away with a unified field theory when it comes to The One: whatever advances his political ambitions – eschewing the race card or employing it, insisting he can no more disown the Reverend Wright than he can disown the black community or his white grandmother one week and tossing him (and his white grandmother) under the bus the next, pledging he would accept public financing in his bid for the presidency before breaking that pledge, saying that an American flag pin on his lapel was a “substitute” for “true patriotism” before wearing it all the time, and much, much more – Obama will do.

There is a fairly ruthless ambition that lurks underneath the cool Obama exterior. I suppose it is impressive, in a certain way, that Obama can project an image that is quite at odds with his actions. But one can play that game only so long. At some point, the gap between the image and the reality shrinks, and more often than not reality emerges.

That can be a jarring thing, especially for those who have fallen under the spell of political figures like Barack Obama. The expectations he has created are enormous – and sooner or later, one cannot help but think that they will come crashing down around him. It won’t happen before the election, but it very well might after it. And it will be quite something to witness

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