AP: Clyburn Accuses SC Gov of “Playing the Race Card”

Associated Press (3/13/09)

AP: Clyburn Accuses SC Gov of “Playing the Race Card”

The highest-ranking black congressman questioned Thursday whether South Carolina’s governor was “playing the race card” when he compared using federal stimulus money to Zimbabwe and other nations that printed cash in tough economic times.

Gov. Mark Sanford wrote a letter to President Barack Obama on Thursday asking for a waiver to spend $700 million in stimulus money to pay down some of the state’s debt — a day after comparing the package to other countries that dealt with hard times ineptly. Sanford has been an outspoken critic of the stimulus but hasn’t outright refused any of the money.

Rep. Jim Clyburn, D-S.C., has already lambasted Sanford and other governors who said they may not take some of the stimulus money, calling such a move a “slap in the face of African-Americans” last month. Thursday brought renewed sparring, as Clyburn criticized Sanford for mentioning Zimbabwe.

The comparison “was beyond the pale,” Clyburn said. “The question that ought to be asked of him: Is he playing the race card? I don’t know why he picked that country.”

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Crooks and Liars: Today is the day: Has a real crisis beaten the Lee Atwater school of smear politics?

Crooks and Liars

Today is the day: Has a real crisis beaten the Lee Atwater school of smear politics?

 

If you get a chance to see The Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, you will watch the architect of the modern-day GOP’s political strategy to win elections, which is to smear the other person with slimy personal attacks and vicious lies to keep Americans focused on the politics of personal destruction while feigning innocence. The idea is that those smear tactics will deflect us away from the real issues that Americans face every day. Karl Rove, Atwater’s best student, has taken over since he died and has succeeded in continuing that disgusting legacy. Up until now, that is.

Politics has been a dirty game throughout our history, but even Michael Dukakis had no ideahow to respond to the Willie Horton ad, and in the movie he says as much. He thought it was beneath him to respond to such shameful accusations and he realized that he was wrong a little too late. Part of Atwater’s strategy was also to get theses smears planted into the main stream press and he succeeded on that level as well. “Bernard Shaw dealt a crushing blow to the Dukakis candidacy by asking the Massachusetts governor about Horton with the opening question of his final debate with George H. W. Bush.”

 

And as the debates finished, Obama retook the lead in all the polls, because Americans saw that in response to a crisis, he truly looked like a Commander-in-Chief. Even the Conservative Talking Head Brigade of Charles Krauthammer and Dick Morris agreed with this assessment.

What was McCain’s response to this? Open up the Atwater playbook and hammer Obama as being a friend of Bill Ayers in robo-calls, while their surrogates once again took to the airwaves for a full frontal assault. His “friends” at the National Republican Trust PAC brought in new Rev. Wright smear ads that are running now on all the cable stations. And did you know he wants to destroy electricity and the coal industry?

And how has all these wild and desperate smears worked far as we all vote on election day? Instead of the politics of personal destruction tearing down Obama, his lead widened and poll after poll told us that McCain was just being downright nasty. Instead realizing the ineffectiveness and addressing the issues at hand, the McCain camp continued a campaign of personal attacks.

McCain yelled from his pulpit, “Obama is a Socialist” and the “Redistributor-in-Chief”. He then unleashed his last political gimmick: Joe the Plumber. Unfortunately for McCain, his poll numbers kept falling.

So today is the day we all get to find out if the Lee Atwater school of politics has been defeated by the reality of our economic situation.

It has taken a real crisis to combat the very successful campaign strategy that Atwater championed to win George H.W. Bush the White House in ’88. The same techniques that Karl Rove mastered and implemented in beating McCain and then Gore in 2000 and Kerry in 2004. Will truth and reality finally win out?

I wish I could tell you that Americans henceforth will never be influenced by scurrilous personal attack ads and campaign smears in the future, but my hope today is that finally this great nation has been shocked into actually using their brains to decide who should lead us out of the wilderness that came upon due to the negligence of Conservatism. I think Americans unfortunately have a short memory span and these dirty tactics will always be with us. If Obama wins, then I do think that America have no excuses any more if they do get taken in by these cowardly tricks. So I say to you now:

Yes, We Can.

 

 

Michelle Obama Watch: It Starts Already:Michelle Obama Emasculation Meme

Michelle Obama Watch

It Starts Already:Michelle Obama Emasculation Meme

OH great, I thought we would get a “grace period” here we go with the “Michelle Obama cuts her husband down to size” meme courtesy of the Telegraph. While they did let us know one interesting tidbit, Michelle Obama will be the youngest First Lady Since Jackie O, they had to get in several dings:

Others may gush over her husband but Michelle Obama, not only the first black First Lady but one of the youngest presidential wives since Jackie Kennedy, likes to be brutally honest about him.
Critics have labelled her arrogant, haughty, cold and an “angry black woman”. Supporters portray her instead as independent-minded, unafraid to speak out and a devoted mother who puts family firmly before career.

During the campaign she would give a standard 45 minute stump speech, which she wrote herself and delivered without notes. While other would-be presidential wives traditionally stick to sunny, uncontroversial topics, Mrs Obama would tackle issues such as education and inequality.

And, of course, she talked about her husband. Thanks to her, we now know that the president elect never puts the butter away, cannot make beds and tends to be a bit smelly in the mornings. Such tidbits might have helped humanise the Obama image but critics claimed she emasculated him.

Detroit Free Press: Nader concedes race, predicts Obama landslide

Detroit Free Press

Nader concedes race, predicts Obama landslide

Ralph Nader, the self-styled consumer crusader and perennial third party presidential candidate, conceded today, telling the Free Press minutes ago that there was going to be “a landslide” for Barack Obama.

“The streets are going to be filled with revelry … both here and in Africa,” Nader predicted, followed by a 10-minute denunciation of most of the Democratic Party candidate’s policy and record. 

Blogometer: DEM STRATEGY: Fighting Back The DLC Wing

Blogometer

DEM STRATEGY: Fighting Back The DLC Wing

Liberal bloggers are criticizing recent columns by Dem strategists Doug Schoen and Mark Penn, who urge the hypothetical Obama administration to stick to “centrism” and “conciliation.” Liberal bloggers perceive Schoen’s and Penn’s argument as an attempt to pre-emptively constrain Obama’s progressive agenda:

  • The Washington Monthly‘s Steve Benen: “We’ll know soon enough whether Democrats have a good Election Day or not, but Doug Schoen is already urging the party not to perceive potentially sweeping victories as an endorsement of the Democratic agenda. […Schoen argues that] if voters turn out in record numbers, elect Democrats to control almost everything, and deliver a ‘wholesale rejection’ of conservative Republicans, Democratsshouldn’t consider this a mandate for change. Indeed, as far as Schoen is concerned, if Democratic policy makers try to implement Democratic policy ideas after Democratic victories, the party will surely be punished by voters. […] I suspect Obama, given what we know of his style and temperament, would make good-faith efforts to encourage Republicans to support his policy goals. But Schoen’s advice seems misguided — if Obama wins, he should scale back on the agenda voters asked him to implement? He should water down his agenda, whether it has the votes to pass or not? He should put ‘conciliation’ at the top of his priority list? And what, pray tell, does a Democratic majority do if/when Republicans decide they don’t like Democratic ideas, don’t care about popular mandates or polls, and won’t work with Dems on issues that matter? Do Democrats, at that point, simply stop governing, waiting for a mysterious ‘consensus’ to emerge?”
  • Open Left‘s David Sirota: “Mark Penn joins fellow corporate pollster Doug SchoenPeggy NoonanCharles Krauthammer and Jon Meacham as the latest member of the Punditburo to insist that no matter what happens on election day, America is a center-right nation, and therefore a President Obama must not govern as a progressive. […] Penn is following Schoen’s lead in making the Democratic side of this Establishment argument — using the manufactured storyline of Bill Clinton‘s supposed actions to claim that if a President Obama governs as a progressive, he will end up like Clinton in 1994. Not only is the storyline wholly fake, it implies that nothing has changed in America since 1994. That is, it implies with a straight face that the [George W.] Bush years and the backlash to those years did nothing to move the country in a progressive direction. […] Look, I’m all for Obama governing as a ‘centrist’ — as long as he recognizes that the actual ‘center’ of American public opinion is far different from the ‘center’ as defined by corporate-hired pollsters like Penn, and the rest of the Establishment Punditburo.”
  • Think Progress‘ Matthew Yglesias: “The real thing that the next administration needs to do is to avoid failure. In particular, the country clearly faces a serious economic challenge. What the next administration needs — and what the next congress needs — is policies that will work to restore prosperity. If the administration signs into law a recovery program that, whether popular or not at the time, delivers the goods in terms of restoring prosperity, then the president and the congress will be in good shape politically. By contrast, if they can’t do so, they’ll suffer. Similarly, a health reform plan that works will be rewarded. That’s the real issue here — not policies that ‘are seen as too far left’ or policies that are seen as too far right, but policies that are seen as failing.”

Atrios makes a similar argument: “No matter how much Obama wins by, if he wins, the media will have Joe Lieberman and Harold Ford explain to us what it really means, which is that the American public supports exactly what Harold Ford supports. The establishment is ‘center right,’ whatever that means, and no matter what public sentiment actually is, they will tell you that the American People support their agenda.”

Blog for our Future: “Center-Right Nation” Watch – Mark Penn Edition

Blog for our Future

“Center-Right Nation” Watch – Mark Penn Edition

Mark Penn joins fellow corporate pollster Doug SchoenPeggy NoonanCharles Krauthammer and Jon Meacham as the latest member of the Punditburo to insist that no matter what happens on election day, America is a center-right nation, and therefore a President Obama must not govern as a progressive. Here’s the excerpt from Penn’s screed in the Financial Times:

The history of 1992 contains a clear warning that a centre-left coalition can fall apart quickly if the policies are seen as too far left. In 1993, Mr Clinton raised taxes on the wealthy, adopted the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in the military, proposed and lost universal healthcare and adopted gun safety measures, banning assault rifles. (emphasis added)

Penn is following Schoen’s lead in making the Democratic side of this Establishment argument – using the manufactured storyline of Bill Clinton’s supposed actions to claim that if a President Obama governs as a progressive, he will end up like Clinton in 1994. Not only is the storylinewholly fake, it implies that nothing has changed in America since 1994. That is, it implies with a straight face that the Bush years and the backlash to those years did nothing to move the country in a progressive direction.

Give all of these hacks credit. Out of their hysterical fear of waking up to irrelevancy on November 5th has come a disciplined strategy of lying – lying about where polling data shows the country is on issues, and lying about what an election of Obama actually means in such an ideologically polarized context.

BAGNews Notes: The Visual Codes Of Racism

BAGNews Notes

The Visual Codes Of Racism

Racism is the American tragedy, and as the current political campaign reminds us, it comes in many shades and colors.

Sometimes it is explicit, as when a Georgia bar owner visually compared Senator Obama to a playful monkey, or more recently when a San Bernadino Republican group distributed Obama Bucks adorned with visual racist stereotypes linking African Americans with watermelon and fried chicken. At other times it is a bit more subtly coded, as when anationally syndicated political pundit emphasizes “blood equity” rather than “race or gender” as a sign of one’s fitness to be president, or when the current housing crisis is blamed on the efforts of ACORN, a “community organizing group,” to facilitate mortgages for “low income groups” and “inner city” residents rather than, say, on those within the financial industry who targeted such communities for subprime loans in the first place.

All forms of racism are troubling, especially for a nation dedicated to social and political equality, but in some respects these more subtly coded versions are all the more pernicious because they operate under a thin veil of interpretive ambiguity that enables such advocates to absolve themselves of the responsibility to acknowledge (let alone to justify) the insidious implications of the views that they espouse.

Consider, for example, this photograph published in an online slide show at the Washington Post this past week. The caption reads:

race-and-the-dog

 

“Police officers accompanied by police dogs, stand guard near supporters of Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama outside a campaign stop of U.S. Republican presidential candidate John McCain in Sandusky, Ohio.”

A defender of the scene might argue that the photograph clearly marks the tension between “security” and “liberty” that is symptomatic of political culture in a liberal-democratic polity. The pivot point, one might note, is the yellow police line that marks the often tenuous division between public order and chaos. Shot from an oblique angle, the image distances the viewer from easily aligning with either the police officer and dog (the signs of public order) or the Obama supporters (the signs of potential disorder); it thus invites and implies a degree of viewer objectivity that encourages us to treat such tensions as regular and ordinary: protest is legitimate within bounds, but so too is the exercise of state authority, and as long as the two operate in careful equipoise all is well.

But, of course, such an analysis begs the larger question: Why the guard dogs? What is about this particular event that warrants the presence of dogs trained to kill upon command to guard the public welfare against what appear to be peaceful and orderly Obama supporters?

There are no doubt answers to this question that deny any racist implications to the image or the scene it records, but as with those who invoke specific racial stereotypes only to deny any racist implications to their comments, such responses willfully ignore the history and symbols of American racism writ large. And one prominent symbol of that racism has been the use of dogs to manage and control African American populations.

Of course, the presence of a single symbol of racism at one political rally will not, by itself, animate or sustain a culture of racism and racial anxiety—or at least not for very long. The problem is that at some point the accumulation and concatenation of such symbols, explicit and subtle alike, reinforce and eventually naturalize one another. And when that happens it becomes increasingly difficult to resist the power and appeal of their “common sense” pretensions.

The only antidote is to develop the verbal and visual literacy necessary to understand and interpret such codes for what they are and to be guided, in the end, by what Martin Luther King referred to as the “true meaning” of our national creed that “all men are created equal.”