Skip to comments.Obama doesn't have ‘race problem' — GOP does (Huh?)
Posted on 03/14/2008 10:31:51 AM PDT by pissant
Now that Sen. John McCain has clinched the GOP nomination, an 800-pound political elephant looms in the room. Will America stick with 220 years of tradition and elect as our next president a white male in this case, a 71-year-old senator and decorated war hero? Or does Barack Obama an energetic, visionary, 46-year-old African-American senator from Illinois with no prior military service have a shot at the brass ring?
While I do not count Sen. Hillary Rodham Clinton (D-N.Y.) out of the race, Obama is leading in pledged delegates, and Democrats would be committing political suicide with black voters by denying him the nomination at the national convention Aug. 25-28 in Denver. If Obama becomes the nominee, the Republican Party will face the most difficult election in its 150-year history.
Why? The GOPs dilemma is how to effectively run the red state campaign that it has become so accustomed to and successful at over the past 35 years. GOP campaigns since the late 1960s have made the politics of race a centerpiece of national elections. Its an issue I am particularly sensitive to, as an African-American woman who has been active in the Republican Party since I was 18 (I cast my first presidential vote for George H.W. Bush in 1988).
Recall how that year the Willie Horton episode became a racially tinged issue against the eventual Democratic nominee, Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis. Sen. Al Gore of Tennessee was the first to raise the issue of weekend passes for convicted criminals at a Democratic primary debate, though he never mentioned Hortons name or that he was black.
But the brief debate exchange attracted the interest of Republican opposition researchers, who developed an independent expenditure ad showing a grainy, dark picture of Horton. The official Bush campaign, of course, kept its distance from such efforts and claimed to use Horton only in race-neutral ways. But it still benefited from this racially divided approach in defeating Dukakis.
The trend toward polarized politics had been building for decades. Until the 1960 election, the Republican Party enjoyed the support of at least 50 percent of black voters. But in that years closely contested presidential race, Republican nominee Richard Nixon refused to call Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. in the Georgia jail where the civil rights leader was imprisoned on a technicality.
Democratic nominee John F. Kennedy, meanwhile, called Coretta Scott King to express his support for her husband. Kennedys phone call prompted Dr. Kings father, a prominent Atlanta pastor, to endorse the Democratic ticket, which won a majority of black votes in the South.
When Nixon sought a comeback in the 1968 presidential election, he appealed to the so-called silent majority (e.g., suburban and Southern whites, conservatives) and promised he would restore law and order in Americas cities as well as achieve peace with honor in Vietnam.
By 1972, Nixon and his aides understood clearly that they had to attract the Wallace voters to the GOP fold (segregationist Gov. George Wallace of Alabama in 1968 carried his home state and Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Mississippi). Through this Southern strategy, Nixon and his campaign aides used race as a wedge issue in national elections to swing traditionally Democratic voters (e.g., blue-collar, white working-class citizens) to the GOP.
Republicans have even used race issues against their own members. During the 2000 South Carolina Republican primary, thousands of independent-expenditure calls were made to white voters suggesting McCain, chief rival of front-runner George W. Bush, had fathered a black baby a play on the McCain familys adoption of a baby girl from Bangladesh on one of Cindy McCains goodwill trips to the region. Although the Bush campaign denied any ties to the calls being made against McCain, the result was that McCain lost a bitter primary fight in South Carolina and, effectively, the GOP nomination.
Race is rearing its head again this campaign cycle. Politico reported Feb. 25 that top Republican strategists have commissioned polls and focus groups to determine the acceptable boundaries of attacking a minority or female candidate as they prepare for a presidential campaign against the first-ever African-American or female Democratic nominee.
What concerns me are the clear racial and identity politics voting trends we saw in the March 4 primaries in Ohio, Texas and New England. According to MSNBC, 20 percent of Ohio voters said that race was an important factor in how they voted; of those, 75 percent voted for Clinton. In Texas, Ohio and Rhode Island, white female voters and white male voters strongly coalesced around Clintons candidacy. Likewise, African-American voters still overwhelmingly supported Obamas candidacy.
Rhetoric from political leaders fuels voter sensitivity to race and ethnicity, and conservative leaders have not been quiet about Obamas identity.
Republican Rep. Steve King, for one, has said that Al Qaeda would welcome Obamas election. The radical Islamists, the Al Qaeda ... would be dancing in the streets in greater numbers than they did on Sept. 11, because they would declare victory in this war on terror, King said in an interview with the Spencer, Iowa, Daily Reporter. King suggested that Obamas middle name, Hussein, would have a special meaning for radical Islamists.
His middle name does matter, King said. It matters because they read a meaning into that.
Conservative radio hosts have further inflamed the race question. Shock jock Bill Cunningham famously said at a McCain rally, We will rip the bark off of Barack Hussein Obama.
Sean Hannitys America has attacked Michelle Obamas comments about being proud of America for the first time, her writings on feeling isolated as a black student at Princeton, Louis Farrakhans statement that he supports Obama for president, and controversial sermons by Obamas pastor, Jeremiah Wright, on black family unity and pride. Hannity categorizes such support as Obamas race problem.
In another example, conservative talk radio host Rush Limbaugh speculated March 6 that the Democratic ticket could include both Clinton and Obama. Therefore, youve got a woman and a black for the first time ever on the Democrat ticket, Limbaugh said. Ahem. They dont have a prayer.
America is still clearly not comfortable discussing race out in the open, and it becomes more glaring as each day goes by in this historic campaign for president of the United States.
My advice to McCain is this: Let the 2008 campaign be remembered as the one in which the GOP abandoned its Southern, red state strategy, when the partys nominee used straight talk to set a tone and vision for the general election that is truly inclusive of all Americans.
As a maverick senator who has a unique life story of overcoming adversity, he must be willing to substantively, constructively and compassionately take our partys philosophy of a strong national defense, strong economy, educational choice, strong families, homeownership and entrepreneurship to black communities urban and suburban alike. Its time to stop writing them off as Republicans have for the past 40 years.
McCain has a golden opportunity to prove that black Americans, female voters and other historically disenfranchised citizens can embrace the GOPs message of strength and opportunity for all. This would not only be historic; it would rid the party of the shame and stigma it has borne for far too long relative to race and bring the party back to its great beginnings under President Abraham Lincoln.
My advice to McCain is this: Let the 2008 campaign be remembered as the one in which the GOP abandoned its Southern, red state strategy
In other words, don’t do what it takes to win..
To the author:
In 1997, Colin Powell could have had the Presidency with the simpple answer of Yes to the question of whether he was running as a Republican. Possibly a fifty state sweep. He decided not to run, but that is not the fault of the Republican party.
As far as race baiting goes, look to your Democrats as they have been doing it since 1865. Read some history before you put pen to paper.
If BRRRRAACK Obama is a visionary, I sure don’t like his vision.
Should read liberal America. So far the rest of us have stayed out of the fray
I cant believe I read everything posted. What a load of tripe..
First, I question the veracity of some of these “incidents”. And even if they are true, this handful of examples are tiny in comparision to the endless race and identity politics of the Dems.
Obama does have a race problem. Hes ashamed of his whiteness.
Conservatives aren’t going to vote for anyone as liberal as either Hillary or Obama.
Obama’s problem will be getting the Robert Byrd wing of his own party to vote for him.
People like the author of this piece are unfortunately typical supporters of leftist victimology. It is not the responsibility of blacks or hispanics or whatever to study issues and candidates. It is the responsibility of the candidate to provide a gimme to get their vote. Muslim organizations are using the same tactic. It is not their fault that Islam is not looked upon favorably. It is the fault of non-Muslims for not accepting the BS they dish out.
I guess us angry white men cannot claim that title any longer.
You can be guaranteed that McCain has no plans to “do what it takes” to win -
he might as well just hand the election to Obama as soon as (if) he gets the nomination,
otherwise, running against the black man is just being racist.
She’s prejudiced against 800lb. Elephants. Very depressing. Where’s Congress on this?
Yep, and they call us racist but if things really get ugly in Denver how many cities will riot? LA burned over the Rodney king beating, this will be seen by a lot of people if he loses the primary as even a bigger smack down, even if it was a fair vote.
Yes, if Barack is denied then this place could go up like a tinderbox, even though it is their own party that is doing it to them. Maybe I will use my free money the Government is going to mail me to stock up on some ammo, you know, just in case.
What tripe. I guess Sophia hadn’t heard the Sink Emperor, Bob Kerrey or Ferraro’s comments. *shaking head*
In other words she believes most blacks vote based on the color of a candidates skin, by race. I wonder if blacks are really as racist as she thinks?
If the GOP was the party of racism, how come when Wallace won 5 southern states in the 1968 presidental election as an independent, Nixon, the Republican, still won the election? It's because Wallace, the independent, took votes away from Humphrey, the Dem, not Nixon. Nixon, BTW, was the one who honored Rosa Parks.
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