McCain Owes Us an Apology! White Framing in Presidential Debates



Watching the second presidential debate, I have to be forthright and divulge first that I utilized my critical lens and my scholarly heart which is rooted in conflict theory . With all this aside, I still find it interesting, no obtuse, that what I witnessed in terms of white racial framing was not thrashed out to the extent for which the topic was justly due. John McCain’s covert, racially amplified rhetoric within the debate was on full grisly display for the world to behold. My brow began to rise when first Senator McCain was asked by a Black gentleman in the audience this question:

Well, Senators, through this economic crisis, most of the people that I know have had a difficult time. And through this bailout package, I was wondering what it is that’s going to actually help those people out.

McCain then responded,

But you know one of the real catalysts, really the match that lit this fire was Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. I’ll bet you, you may never even have heard of them before this crisis.

I then had to ask myself, “What makes McCain think that the Black gentleman had no knowledge of this company?” OK, I then thought and chalked the comment up to Mc Cain’s naiveté. But when he later went on to discuss Senator Obama’s health care platform I then was sure that McCain was utilizing the white racial frame when discussing Obama and his stances on certain issues. McCain was quoted as saying:

I want to give every American a $5,000 refundable tax credit. They can take it anywhere, across state lines. Why not? Don’t we go across state lines when we purchase other things in America? Of course it’s OK to go across state lines because in Arizona they may offer a better plan that suits you best than it does here in Tennessee. And if you do the math, those people who have employer-based health benefits, if you put the tax on it and you have what’s left over and you add $5,000 that you’re going to get as a refundable tax credit, do the math, 95 percent of the American people will have increased funds to go out and buy the insurance of their choice and to shop around and to get — all of those people will be covered except for those who have these gold-plated Cadillac kinds of policies.

In my experiences, I have never seen white people associated with driving a “gold-plated Cadillac.”

Next, when McCain referred to Obama as “That one,” the message seemed to be completely understood by observers. I was truly disappointed with the media’s attention to these loaded statements. This morning, the only media observers discussing this issue were on Black satellite radio stations.

It seems that the conversion will continue. What will the effects be upon the voters? Are the covert racist tactics which bring to the top the fears of white America utilized by McCain and his cohorts going to make a difference? If people vote on fear and the ramifications of the white racial frame, one of my favorite movies Blazing Saddles comically summarizes the people who fall prey. In a scene where the Black sheriff (Bart) is looking to receive approval from the racist townspeople goes astray, his partner played by Gene Wilder (Waco Kid) says this: “What did you expect? ‘Welcome, sonny?’ ‘Make yourself at home.’ ‘Marry my daughter.’ You’ve got to remember that these are just simple farmers. These are people of the land. The common clay of the New West. You know – morons.”