Thursday, May 22, 2008

Playing the intimidation card

It takes Pat Buchanan to nail what is going on in this primary election period. "The Clintons are today," he writes, "victims of a double standard that has long been employed against conservatives." Just pointing out a racial reality, whether cultural or statistical, is "playing the race card," if you're not in the Obama camp.

In his column, "Race Cards and Speech Codes," Buchanan asserts that Hillary Clinton cannot even make the simple observation, "I can win – and my opponent can't." In almost every election campaign, which candidate has not said something similar, or those very words, about his/her opponent? Buchanan claims, "The argument was made against Goldwater, Nixon, Reagan." Against the tender feelings of a black man, however, the mere statement, "I'm better than he is," is now a taunt.

And which candidates have not assessed the racial/ethnic/economic backgrounds of particular constituencies? How could a candidate resist measuring such data? Why would any candidate ignore it? White college educated vs. white working class vs. poor black vs. black middle class – whatever. Buchanan asks how Hillary can describe her Ohio-Pennsylvania coalition without using the dread word "white."

Then he gets to the real force that has made the Obama candidacy feasible and now works to protect him, that is, the media, whose efforts he correctly calls "sinister." It's not the Clintons who are playing the race card, says Buchanan, rather the media "and some black journalists with sentimental, emotional or ideological investments in Obama are playing the intimidation card." As I have written before, members of the media insist on proving what whores they are. They spent eight years as unquestioning purveyors of George W. Bush's propaganda, from the White House to the public, thereby condoning his horrific and inhumane foreign policies. As power slips away from the Republicans, these media elites now want, once again, to be on the winning side. To them, that means the bandwagon of Barack Obama. Indeed, why not create the bandwagon, and then ride it?

Buchanan persists in referring to the "liberal media," a term coined by disgruntled rightwingers. He is wrong to believe that there is an ideological foundation to the antics engaged in by most mainstream media types. There is, no doubt, a small cadre of die hard believers in progressive politics, some of whom, in an earlier life, were attached to political campaigns. But, on the whole, these "journalists" strive only to belong to those inner circles where they can seek out the powerful, to assure the aggrandizement of careers. Members of the White House press corps have been disdained as Bush's "stenographers," a depiction that fits them perfectly.

Buchanan says of the media, "They are setting limits around what may and may not be said about Obama. They are seeking to censor robust adversarial speech where Barack is concerned, by branding as racists 'playing the race card' any who make Barack run the same paces as anyone else." Mustn't put the black man through the same paces as any normal white candidate. You can't expect him to be subjected to the rude, rough give-and-take of national politics.

Not only is it dangerous for whites to reject the Obama glow, Buchanan quotes Washington Post reporter Darryl Fears, who claims that standing in the path of Obama's campaign is also dangerous for prominent blacks. With such intimidation in the air, what else can a future voter do when being polled, except to lie or dissemble, while claiming to support the country's hottest Rock Star?

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