Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Is Sarah Palin Playing with Fire?

Yes, Palin IS playing with fire:

In her witless way, Sarah Palin has re-injected race into the presidential campaign at just the time when it seemed to be sliding into insignificance. After all, you can hardly attach a racial narrative to the global financial crisis. Furthermore, polls have been suggesting a surprisingly high degree of acceptance by whites of a black in the White House.

Some commentators think "brownness" (immigrants) has replaced blackness as the new racial scarecrow in American politics. I think it is also true that as people have gotten used to Obama, they increasingly see not a black man, but a post-racial person (white and black, by birth) who calmly and coolly embodies the swirling ethnic mix that is modern America.

But Palin, with plenty of abetment from McCain, has gotten it going again with the theme that Obama “is not a man who sees America like you and I see America." She’s selling Obama not as the black, but as the other. This obviously can appeal to racial fears and antagonisms.

It now remains to be seen whether or not the McCain campaign has been sufficiently chastened by the tsunami of criticism of recent days to pull back the attack. He has a chance to do it today in Virginia with the new, "retooled" stump speech he has announced. If he doesn't, however, he should quake in fear of what his legacy will be, no matter how this campaign ends.

Is Sarah Palin Playing with Fire?

The McCain campaign insists it is not fanning the flames of racism. But has Sarah Palin gone too far in painting Barack Obama as "the other?" SPIEGEL ONLINE blogger Peter Ross Range thinks she might have.


It's been almost more than a committed news junkie can bear: What a blizzard of news, views and counter-attacks have swept through the presidential election campaign in the past few days.

First we have Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin flinging around reckless accusations against Democratic nominee Barack Obama. Then a flood of negative media reactions, comparing Palin’s hate-mongering with the civil rights era and worse.

Finally, like a bombshell, the statement of Rep. John Lewis, one of the great heroes of the civil rights movement. He said the campaign of Republican candidate for president John McCain was “sowing the seeds of hatred and division.” Lewis was reminded of segregationist Gov. George C. Wallace of Alabama, who helped create “the climate and the conditions that encouraged vicious attacks against innocent Americans” during the 1960s.

Of course the McCain campaign reacted with righteous indignation to Lewis’s statement. Even the Obama folks felt obliged to say that "Sen. Obama does not believe that John McCain or his policy criticism is in any way comparable to George Wallace or his segregationist policies." At the same time, they added: “John Lewis was right to condemn some of the hateful rhetoric that John McCain himself personally rebuked just last night."


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