Well, the Democratic primaries have brought more people out to vote than in recent memory, and now the anti-Clinton and anti-Obama attack machines are heating up dramatically. We are beginning to see just how the attack machines are going to focus in the future on Senator Obama (especially if he is the Democratic nominee), often with only thinly veiled appeals to old white racist framing of African Americans.
In a Politico.com story on a key Republican event, the Republican National Committee’s “winter retreat,” we get some samples of the coming attacks from Rove-type operatives. The report first indicates that blatant sexism targeting Senator Clinton was mixed with more subtle racism targeting Senator Obama:
“Plenty of lowbrow Hillary Rodham Clinton jokes were tossed around at the three-day event, but of highest concern was the notion of Obama seizing the Oval Office in a contest against presumptive GOP nominee John McCain.”
Apparently, sexist joking in public is still OK in these circles, and we can only wonder what goes on in regard to blatantly racist joking among these folks off the public stage. The report continues with numerous attack issues the Republican advisors suggest in working against Senator Obama. The anti-Obama presentation accented bullet points about how his “undisciplined messaging carries great risk” and the new cliché that:
“His greatest weakness is inexperience. He is not ready to be commander-in-chief. He is not ready to be president.”
Certain codewords (“undisciplined,” for example) in these points will likely call up old anti-black stereotypes for many whites from the still-common white racial framing of black Americans, which is centuries-old now. They seem designed for that purpose, especially given Obama’s substantial experience as a state senator, lawyer, and community activist (say, compared to some recent Republican presidents).
Fox News has presented Republican leader Ralph Reed repeating President Bush’s false view that Obama “has said that he will embrace [Iranian president] Ahmadinejad.” Numerous other sources, such as arch-conservative Ann Coulter have mockingly attempted to tie Senator Obama to Middle Eastern “terrorists,” by accenting his middle name Hussein. In this crude stereotyping process Middle Eastern peoples are also racially and politically stereotyped.
Media matters has also documented and countered various other charges against Senator Obama, such as that he is not oriented toward ordinary workers, that his followers are “cult” like, and is the most liberal Senator in the US Senate (on the latter point, he is not).
And then there are the viciously racist comments on various white supremacist Internet blogs such as that of the “vanguard news network” (I will not give the link to such vicious sites), where classic racist stereotyping and epithet-filled racist language and joking are used numerous times to characterize Senator Obama from an extreme version of the old white racial frame. A Google search with Obama and the N-word will doubtless bring up hundreds of thousands of such blatantly racist commentaries and websites, at this early stage already.
And we have nine months to go until November. Be prepared. If Senator Obama is the Democratic party nominee, the deep racist realities of this society will once again come out of the shadows into the light of day, much more than at any time in recent years.