The Politics of Division

Carol Platt Liebau
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Posted: Jun 21, 2008 11:53 AM
Usually, a candidate doesn't himself play the race card -- he waits for surrogates or supporters to do it.  Well, not Barack Obama.  Yesterday, he had this to say:

They're going to try to make you afraid of me. He's young and inexperienced and he's got a funny name. And did I mention he's black?

Shameful, no, for a candidate who was supposed to be practicing a "new kind of politics"?

Certainly appeals to racial or ethnic bigotry are shameful and wrong (and I defy Barack to identify any examples of prominent Republicans resorting to them).  But is he really saying it's off-limits to point out that, in fact, he is "young and inexperienced"?

If so, it's an amazing example of hypocrisy, given that Democrats including Obama himself have been using "code words" to suggest that McCain is old (see, everybody can play the "code words" game!).

It strikes me that Democrats frequently tell voters all the dirty ways Republicans will try to "divide" us without ever providing any examples.  For their own part, they regularly work to create and exploit divisions -- between genders (because pro-life=anti-woman, we're told); between races (remember the false accounts of the burning of black churches in 1996, and the James Byrd ad in 2000?); between "rich" and poor (ignoring the fact that the "rich" bear a disproportionate share of the tax burden).

Yet, somehow, pointing out that Barack Obama has no foreign policy experience and dangerously naive views on foreign policy -- a critique of his policies, mind you --  is somehow illegitimately stoking "fear," and is tantamount to mindless racism.  Yeah, that makes sense. 

Let's hear Barack condemn shameful and inaccurate stuff like the ridiculous MoveOn ad that suggests John McCain can't wait to conscript infants into a 100 years war.  Then we can take his denunciation of all this supposed Republican fear-mongering seriously.

Sadly, Barack's insistence on gentle and civil debate seems to be as one-sided as his voting record in the Senate.  As I noted a couple weeks ago, he seems as willing to "divide" Americans by race as any mainstream politician in public life today.  It wasn't, after all, a Republican who brought up Barack's race yesterday.  It was the candidate himself.