Republicans don't need to dress up for Halloween this year. They're scaring the pants off Barack Obama's followers by their mere presence. Anything they say, wear or do provokes instant cries of "RAAAAACISM!" Wink, blink or think critical thoughts about Obama? You're a bigot!
How many racial bogeymen have Obama operatives and sympathetic journalists discovered lurking in "coded language" and attire? Let us count the ways:
-- During Tuesday's presidential debate, John McCain referred to Obama as "that one." Official Obama press agitator Bill Burton sent off an e-mail blast to reporters: "Did John McCain just refer to Obama as 'that one'?" Horrors.
Taking their cue from Burton, spooked Obama supporters hyperventilated like teenagers on the film set of "The Blair Witch Project." "The racial undertones were subtle but unmistakable," declared Maya Wiley of the leftist Center for Social Inclusion. "McCain was tapping into a current of superiority among white voters. It was an attempt to 'otherize' Obama."
"Otherize"? Sounds like something you do to your car tires to prepare for winter.
UC Berkeley linguistics professor George Lakoff was also haunted by "That One": "The phrase was meant to say, 'You and I are in the same area, but he's the outsider.'"
Memo to McCain: Next time, call him "The One."
-- Obama supporters on the heavily trafficked Democratic Underground website (where such mainstream Democrats as Elizabeth Edwards hang out) saw the ghost of the Ku Klux Klan in Sarah Palin's white suit jacket. Yes, white clothes equal racism.
"Palin is wearing white again, inciting the racist crowds. She should just drop all pretense and put on her white hood and light up a cross. She is a despicable human being," fumed a DU poster. "Grand Princess of the KKK," proclaimed another. They're "trying to send subtle signals to their rabid base," declared yet another member of Obama's rabid base.
My racial decoder ring must be on the fritz. I'm not getting the signal. If she wears white stockings, drinks a vanilla milkshake and refers to budgetary black holes, are those incitements, too? And what about her gorgeous white teeth? Perhaps she should drink more coffee -- hold the white cream! -- to avoid emitting further racial radiation.
-- Such paranoia is not limited to the fever swamps of the Internet. Earlier this week, the Associated Press disseminated an "analysis" accusing Palin of injecting a "racial tinge" into the campaign because she criticized Obama for his longtime relationship with Weather Underground terrorist Bill Ayers. Palin's comments were completely unobjectionable: "This is not a man who sees America like you and I see America."
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