Commentary Magazine


That One

It’s taken no time for the lunatic media and the ever-beleaguered Obama camp to turn John McCain’s use of the term “that one” into the biggest election scandal since, oh, since John McCain dared to suspend his campaign and do some work. In Maureen Dowd’s column today titled, “Mud Pies for ‘That One,” Dowd writes that the Republican nominee warned that, “white Americans should not open the door to the dangerous Other, or “That One,” as McCain referred to Obama in Tuesday night’s debate.”  

It would be pretty hard for McCain to have done that, seeing as he was referring to Barack Obama’s support for a 05’ energy bill sponsored by George W. Bush and Dick Cheney that lavished oil companies with a few extra billion dollars. But hey McCain is “out of touch,” right? So, I guess he thought the best way to stir up hatred in rich white people was to point out that the black guy on stage with him wanted to make them needlessly wealthy.

Obama’s campaign issued several outraged missives in regard to McCain’s use of the innocuously paired adjective and noun. One, written by Obama’s campaign manager David Plouffe read, “John McCain was all over the map on the issues, and he is so angry about the state of his campaign that he referred to Barack Obama as ‘that one’ – last time he couldn’t look at Senator Obama, this time he couldn’t say his name.” Obama’s communication director Robert Gibbs said, “It reminds you that McCain is sort of angry and agitated. He looked uncomfortable. I guess the pillow seat wasn’t soft enough. He stood and walked around.”

Correct me if I’m wrong, but I thought we were a country that wants answers about the economy. I thought Americans don’t know if they’ll have a job by the end of the year, or even if they’ll be able to afford the gas to go out and look for one. Moreover, weren’t we told it was wrong for John McCain to bring up Bill Ayers because all people are concerned about right now is watching their life savings go down the sinkhole with no recourse? Barack Obama called the Bill Ayers issue a “distraction” from the wrongheaded GOP policies that are making average Americans suffer. Yet, somehow, “that one” is worthy of campaign statements and New York Times columns.

There is a pattern here. Mentioning the anti-American rhetoric of Michelle Obama constitutes a scare tactic, but the contents of Levi Johnston’s myspace page are a pressing national security issue. Allusions to Barack Obama’s business dealings with Tony Rezko are smears, but John McCain’s houses are legitimate Democrat talking points. Obama’s inexperience is beside the point, because what we need now is new blood, but Sarah Palin’s inexperience is a dangerous insult to the nation. Obama’s infractions, no matter how worrisome,  are either ancient history or simply justified. But McCain’s every word or deed is elevated to the level of war crime.  

Fort the record: “That one” is not racist or dismissive or a sign of anger. “That one” is most often (in my experience) a playful way of apportioning guilt. It’s almost familial, in fact: “We were supposed to go away, but then this one got a cold and that one had work to do,” or “Don’t look at me, I didn’t break the dish, it was that one.” That kind of thing. And if Obama doesn’t understand the use of this harmless colloquialism, he’s broadcasting a bizarre sense of otherness all on his own.

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