Outside the Beltway: Are All Anti-Obama Ads Racist?

Outside the Beltway (9/18/08)

Are All Anti-Obama Ads Racist?

A concern that I’ve expressed since the days of the primary campaign is that, because Barack Obama looks black, virtually any criticism lodged against him can be seen in racial terms.  (The same was true of gender in any attacks against Hillary Clinton.)   The latest example is the bold proclamation from TIME’s Karen Tumulty: “McCain Plays the Race Card.”  His offense?   This ad:

Gee whiz.  There were two black men in the ad.   One, Barack Obama, is the target of the ad.  He is, for those not keeping up with such things, the Democratic nominee and the current frontrunner in the race for president.  The other, Harold Raines, is the chief subject of the ad and the former chairman of an entity that’s been in the news lately. Neither, frankly, look particularly “sinister.” Indeed, Obama is smiling in most of the images. (Isn’t that a racial stereotype, too? -ed.) Were ads in 2004 tying George W. Bush to Enron’s Ken Lay racist because they were both white?

As to the elderly white woman, Tumulty explains it rather nicely in the charge itself. It’s a key constituency McCain needs to influence.

How does one criticize a black politician without letting on that he’s black? Or is any use of the image of a black opponent in an ad presumptively racist? Or is it just any criticism of a black opponent?

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