Wait a second, shout Obama supporters. What about attempts to paint Obama as "the other," as "different"? Peter Beinart writes in Time that the Republican campaign is trying to cast Obama as not "American enough." Obama is cosmopolitan and represents a changing world. To cast that in a negative light, insists Beinart (a friend and frequent debate opponent), amounts to "shocking" racism.
Beinart recounts how Palin said at one rally, "I am just so fearful that this is not a man who sees America the way that you and I see America." Beinart makes it sound as if she said this through a Klan hood. Please. Every single presidential campaign boils down to an argument about how the candidates "see America." Suddenly that question is out of bounds because Obama is black?
According to the liberal history books, in 1988 the GOP cast Michael Dukakis as too elitist, cosmopolitan and not American enough. In 1992, it ran a similar attack against Bill Clinton - remember the hullabaloo about draft dodging and that trip to Russia? In 2000, ditto with Al Gore, though the emphasis was less on foreignness and more on extraterrestrialness. And in 2004, there was John Kerry's "global test" for U.S. national security. Lack of originality notwithstanding, why is it suddenly racist to treat Obama just like the four white guys who preceded him? Talk about racial double standards.
Obama holds mega-campaign rallies in Berlin, touts his global appeal and says a top foreign policy goal is to get other countries to like us. But it's racist to call him cosmopolitan?
He has nontrivial ties to an unrepentant (and white) former leader of the Weather Underground, a radical leftist organization that sought to kill American soldiers, policemen and politicians. But it's "racist" to bring that up? (If anything, by not attacking Obama's ties to the Rev. Jeremiah Wright and other politically unsavory nonwhite associates, McCain is self-censoring for fear of seeming racist.)
If Obama were a white Democratic nominee named Barry O'Malley, the GOP would be going after him twice as hard. But liberal Democrats would still caterwaul about fomenting hatred and racism, because that's what they always do.