The Obama camp says the McCain campaign is wrong to accuse him of playing the race card in the following remarks Obama made while addressing a crowd in Missouri yesterday:
Nobody thinks that Bush and McCain have a real answer to the challenges we face. So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, ‘he’s not patriotic enough, he’s got a funny name,’ you know, ‘he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on the dollar bills.’
Yeah. You know.
It’s not that Obama can cite anyone officially connected to the McCain campaign actually making such a statement. Apparently. Obama doesn’t need to back up his accusation; it’s just a prediction, you see. He just needs to say that they will—and some people will nod sagely, just as some people consider any criticism of Obama to be racially motivated.
Ah, but it’s not about race at all, say Obama’s spokespeople. Not in the least; how could John McCain think such a thing?
Obviously, Obama’s dollar bill remark was about age: Obama’s not as ancient as those guys were. Or maybe its about beards, or false teeth, or long flowing hair, or cravats—don’t most of the men on the dollar bills sport one or the other, or even a combination?
Here’s the Obama camp’s rejoinder to the McCain accusation. According to spokesperson Robert Gibbs, Obama was not referring to race at all:
“What Barack Obama was talking about was that he didn’t get here after spending decades in Washington,” Gibbs said. “There is nothing more to this than the fact that he was describing that he was new to the political scene. He was referring to the fact that he didn’t come into the race with the history of others. It is not about race.”
I am really getting tired of these transparently absurd rejoinders by the Obama camp. These “he doesn’t look like the rest of them” remarks are commonplace in Obama’s campaign, and they are always a veiled way (and sometimes a not-so-veiled way) to refer to race.
For example, Obama said towards the beginning of his speech in Berlin just last Thursday:
I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city. The journey that led me here is improbable. My mother was born in the heartland of America, but my father grew up herding goats in Kenya. His father—my grandfather—was a cook, a domestic servant to the British.
Can anyone argue he is not referring to his ethnicity there? Oh yes, maybe he’s just referring to the fact that he thinks he’s the first son of a goatherder to speak there. Sure thing.
Not only that, the “Republicans are going to scare you about my race” tactic is a not a new one for Obama. He’s on record as saying it quite explicitly about a month ago. I wrote about it at the time here, saying:
Barack Obama, the candidate who wants to end divisiveness, and who wants to run a clean and honorable campaign without negativity, said the following in a recent campaign speech at a Florida fund-raising reception:
It is going to be very difficult for Republicans to run on their stewardship of the economy or their outstanding foreign policy. We know what kind of campaign they’re going to run. They’re going to try to make you afraid. 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?”
Almost a carbon copy of the recent remarks in which he denies meaning he’s referring to race at all.
This man is, quite simply, a liar of a magnitude seldom seen even among politicians—and that’s saying something.
[NOTE: As for those dollar bill guys, they were hardly Washington DC insiders, much less insiders for “decades.” Their histories (but who cares about history?) prior to becoming President were quite varied, although there’s a slight tendency towards military accomplishments. Nor were all of them Presidents, either.
First, there’s George Washington himself, whose face is on the one dollar bill, and whose name was given to the city that became the capital of the US only after his Presidency. He gained fame as Commander during the Revolution, but prior to that he had spent the bulk of his time as wealthy planter and landowner, Virginia legislator, and judge.
Jefferson is on the relatively rare two-dollar bill, and he is the closest thing to a Washington insider we get, having served as Vice President before he became President, although his protean accomplishments were hardly limited to politics.
Then there’s Lincoln of the five-dollar bill, who was about as much a Washington insider at the time of his election as Obama is now. His political career even featured venues similar to Obama: four terms in the Illinois legislature, and one in the US Congress.
Moving right along we come to Alexander Hamilton of the ten-dollar bill, who not only was born and raised in the British West Indies, but was illegitimate, widely rumored in his own day to have been part Black or even to have had a Jewish mother (he was educated in a Jewish school because his illegitimate status banned him from more conventional church-run ones). He never became President, but served in the military, as a member of the Continental Congress, was a delegate to the Constitutional Convention, and Secretary of the Treasury.
Andrew Jackson of the twenty-spot had a pre-Presidential stay in Washington politics about as brief as Obama’s. He had made his name elsewhere as a military man. U.S. Grant is on the fifty, and his experience prior to becoming President was totally military—and although his father may not have been a goatherder, he, like Lincoln, was born in a log cabin.
Which brings us to Ben Franklin, whose face adorns the hundred dollar bill, and whose long flowing locks resemble those of no President (which he of course never was, although he is one of our most influential Founding Fathers). His incredibly varied and productive life—he was as much a Renaissance man as Thomas Jefferson) was spent mostly in Pennsylvania, with side trips as Ambassador to France and Minister to Sweden.]