I just came across two excellent discussions of the racers and their tactics.
The first, entitled “An allergic reaction to the race card,” is by William A. Jacobson of Legal Insurrection. The second, by Jules Crittenden, is called simply “Race card.” Both are well worth reading in their entirety, even if you think you’ve already heard quite enough on this topic.
Crittenden calls on President Obama to disown the racers:
The moment has arrived for President Obama to start working on his legacy as the first post-racial president. Either that, or to face a legacy of having the most racially divisive presidency in modern American history…
That’s why it is time for the president to rise above his own shortcomings and political agenda, and do something for the nation. At some point in the not-too-distant future, whether his health-care plan continues to crash and burn or is resurrected in a new figleaf evolution, the president needs tell the nation that it is OK to disagree with him, that political dissent and even anger do not equal racism. Also, that if he fails, he prefers to be seen as having failed on his own merits, as an American political leader, rather than as a black man who is being handed the crutch of theoretical racism, for which there is no evidence whatsoever in this debate.
My first reaction to Crittenden’s call to Obama to denounce the racers was, “Good luck, fat chance, it’ll never happen.” And I still think that’s true. But if Obama were really clever, he’d play the good cop to the racers’ bad cop, condemning them for their charges while profiting from them at the same time, knowing they won’t stop.
Of the fact that Obama has encouraged the racers, sometimes subtly and sometimes more openly, I have little doubt. I’ve previously mentioned an Obama quote from his campaign days that first opened my eyes to that fact, but it bears repeating:
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?”
Crittenden reminds us also of one of Obama’s most famous previous pronouncements on race relations:
Obama was applauded in last year’s campaign for a big speech in which he excused the racism of his pastor, and said that white America is incapable of understanding the black experience, that racism on the part of blacks is different. A lot of people thought it was a watershed moment in American race relations. It wasn’t.
And Jacobson reminds us of a few other incidents from the Obama campaign:
During the campaign, Obama supporters successfully ended scrutiny of Obama’s overstated opposition to the Iraq war by accusing Bill Clinton of racism for calling Obama’s narrative a “fairy tale.” False accusations of racism also were used against Hillary supporter Geraldine Ferraro and against John McCain in order to frame the political debate.
These tactics were not used by Obama himself, to be sure. But, just as in the recent accusations of racism against the Tea Party protesters and Joe Wilson, he never condemned them, either (and if my memory is incorrect and you can find a time he did, please note it in the comments section).
What’s the result? As Jacobson says:
The effect of these accusations is poisonous. Race is the most sensitive and inflammatory subject in this country. By turning every issue, even a discussion of health care policy, into an argument about race, liberals have created a politically explosive mixture in which the harder they seek to suppress opposing voices, the harder those voices seek to be heard.
So far, the American people don’t seem to be buying the racers’ arguments. Both writers cite this Rasmussen poll indicating that only 12% of Americans think opponents of Obamacare are racist, 67% say they’re not, and 21% don’t know.
Sounds pretty reasonable to me. Good.