Whites Playing the Racist Card

A 527 outfit called by the Orwellian and oxymoronic term, Freedoms Defense Fund, has been running this racist smear ad on Senator Obama, reportedly in Pennsylvania, Iowa, Minnesota, and other states. (H./T. John Foster) It tries to tie Senator Obama to the disgraced mayor of Detroit, Kwame Kilpatrick, with a harsh looking mug shot of the latter much like the old much like the racist Willie Horton ad of the 1988 Republican (first Bush) presidential campaign:

And Jonathan Martin at politico.com calls out the Tennessee Republican Party for a similar attack web-video ad trying to tie Senator Obama to Mayor Kilpatrick:

In the web video, the state party features a clip of the two praising one another and embracing while listing Kilpatrick’s legal and political woes on the screen. Kilpatrick’s problems could damage Obama in Michigan, especially in the white areas outside Detroit, but why is the Tennessee party the one airing this video? Asked if they’re really just trying to connect an allegedly corrupt big-city black politician to Obama, Tennessee GOP spokesman Bill Hobbs denied that was the case, saying: “We categorically reject the suggestion — the Web ad focuses on yet another example of Obama’s lousy character judgment, a growing list of examples that includes folks like the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the other race-baiting preacher, Father Phleger; and the corrupt real-estate wheeler-dealer, Tony Rezko.”

Martin is critical but did not call it racist, yet this ad like the first one is straight out of the white racist frame and appeals aggressively to the negative framing of Black men in most white minds. Senator Obama has done fairly well with segments of the white population, such as young political activists and better educated whites, but has drawn some support from other segments of the white population. I suspect that much of this white support is there because these whites, implicitly or explicitly, view Senator Obama as “an exception to his race,” at least to some degree. That is the old racist notion that certain African Americans are acceptable to whites if they do not press against the racist system openly and fit in well with certain white expectations and assumptions.

These Republican ads seem to be designed, and aggressively so, to link Senator Obama ever more clearly to what that white racial frame considers the “dangerous black man.” We see that expressly in Bill Hobbs comment, which mentions Dr. Wright and even two “corrupt” and “dangerous” white men.

And just now the McCain campaign has put out this ad linking Senator Obama to Frank Raines who was head of Fannie Mae when it got into trouble. This ad has two Black men and one white woman looking hurt. Not-so-subtle racist attempts to make Senator Obama into the typical black man in the white racist framing:


  1. Great post Joe. While the aforementioned Mr Martin might not have deemed these efforts as racist, it seems that Karen Tumulty of Time Magainze has. She offers a withering assessment of the Fannie Mae ad. In part, she writes:

    “This is hardly subtle: Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman.

    Let me stipulate: Obama’s Fannie Mae connections are completely fair game. But this ad doesn’t even mention a far more significant tie–that of Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman who had to resign as head of Obama’s vice presidential search team after it was revealed he got a sweetheart deal on a mortgage from Countrywide Financial. Instead, it relies on a fleeting and tenuous reference in a Washington Post Style section story to suggest that Obama’s principal economic adviser is former Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines. Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black.

    And the image of the victim doesn’t seem accidental either, given the fact that older white women are a key swing constituency in this election.”

    Maybe the MSM is finally starting to recognize white racism for what it is?

  2. Seattle in Texas

    Politics has been on my mind and I tortured myself and watched those videos and naturally had the ..i. .i.. response to the GOP, etc. But I have to laugh because, it wasn’t too long ago that McCain vowed to keep this nation on Bush’s current path…now there is this whole economic crisis going on, and he’s making excuses to hold to the debate tomorrow…. The timing for all this to explode is interesting too.

    But good god. Talk about white collar crime…ummm, maybe they should look at the whites and, well gee, the current economic crises?…well, and certainly Jeffrey Reiman’s book, The Rich Get Richer and the Poor Get Prison comes to mind…. Hmmmm


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