Today’s contestant: Bobby Lee May.
In addition to sharing his name with a famous juggler, Monsieur May served as treasurer of the Buchanan County Republican Party as well as county representative to Senator McCain’s Virginia leadership team. The 97% white county, named for this racist fool, gave Senator Obama only 9% in the Democratic primary; in a state he dominated with 64%. (Though, to be fair to the locals, Douglas Wilder did carry the county in his 1989 run for Governor.)
So here’s May, chillin’, counting out the Buchanan County GOP cash box and generally minding his own shit. But then, he decides to write a column in a local newspaper. I hope you’re sitting down as I present some excerpts from “The (clarified) platform of Barack Hussein Obama:”
“DRUG CRISIS: Raise taxes to pay for free drugs for Obama’s inner-city political base….”
“FOREIGN RELATIONS: Appoint Rev. Al Sharpton as Secretary of State, Jesse Jackson as UN Representative, and let Bill Clinton handle all other “foreign relations” … As long as Hillary doesn’t find out…!”
“THE WHITE HOUSE: Hire rapper Ludacris to “paint it black.” Taxes to be increased to buy enough paint for the job plus spray-paint for graffiti….”
“US CURRENCY: Update photos to reflect US diversity; include pictures of “great Americans” such as Oprah Winfrey, Ludacris, Sheila Jackson-Lee, Paris Hilton, and Louisiana Congressman William Jefferson (Obama’s new Secretary of the Treasury – 50 Cent refused position after learning that he would lose his crazy check if he accepted the nomination)….”
“US FLAG: Replace 50 stars with a star and crescent logo; red stripes changed to green to represent Obama’s tree-hugging radical environmentalism and his lack of experience. Flag lapel pins, having become a substitute for “real patriotism,” will henceforth be banned….”
“STATEHOOD: Extend statehood to the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, Kenya, Cuba, Palestine, Freedonia, Bugtussle and the ‘Free state of McDowell’ and raise taxes…”
“THIRD WORLD COUNTRIES: Raise taxes to send $845 billion, send most to Africa so that the Obama family there can skim off enough to allow them to free their goats and live the American Dream…”
Sadly for Monsieur May, this story escaped the confines of small-town print journalism. No less than the Los Angeles Times provides a pdf of the entire article today. May initially denied that this was racist, before reality coerced him into one of those I’m sorry if anyone was offended non-apologies. The McCain people promptly removed May from his campaign position
But here’s the thing: On the one hand, the mid-Atlantic spokeswoman for the McCain campaign called the remarks “offensive” and “insulting,” adding that they “have no place in our political discourse.” On the other, VP harpie Sarah Palin has spit out the following dreck over the past 48 hours:
“…This is not a man who sees America as you and I do…”
“…This is someone who sees America as imperfect enough to pal around with terrorists…”
True, the campaign tries to stop short of formally endorsing teh racisms. However, they’re awfully loaded up with the He’s not like us stuff. The McCain campaign has literally pulled its only positive ad, settling on a home-stretch strategy of character attacks. (In contrast, over half of Obama’s TV money is going to the “Real Change” ad in which the Senator speaks policy directly to the camera.) Expect a steady diet of Ayers, Rezko, and possibly Wright for the next four weeks. And when it gets too uncomfortable, there’s always the porcine surrogates willing to spread the feces.
Interestingly enough, the McCain camp is also preparing to run on crime. They’re digging in Obama’s Illinois record for signs of weakness. This is an odd topic to attack on considering nobody gives a shit, with crime parked somewhere below the economy, Iraq, national security, gas prices, health care, immigration, and social issues on the to-do list. But then, if you’re listening for racist dog-whistles, crime is top-shelf. And if there were any doubt, they’ve dredged up the designer of the Willie Horton ad.
Even McCain’s attacks on housing have been racially-tinted. The campaign has tried to link Obama with the black former CEO of Fannie Mae Franklin Raines; an association the Washington Post called “a stretch” and “clearly exaggerating wildly.” They interspersed Raines and Obama’s faces with an elderly white woman in a negative television ad citing “financial fraud,” even while the fastest expansion of subprime lending occurred under Raines’ (white) successor Daniel Mudd. I guess we shouldn’t act all surprised, considering that the house organ of conservatism blamed the failure of Washington Mutual on affirmative action, while the Reich Women’s Auxiliary blamed the subprime crisis on lending to minorities. (Dismissed here by a liberal and there by a conservative.)
There’s patterns here. For people who swear they aren’t racist, Republicans sure do a lot of racist shit. And so, as previously cited, the wisdom of Bond villain Auric Goldfinger:
“Once is happenstance; twice is coincidence; three times is enemy action.”
In a roundabout way, the good news is that Americans might be too poor to buy it this time. Firebrand AFL-CIO official Richard Trumka recalled a conversation with a voter in Pennsylvania. The voter, a “die-hard Democrat,” openly told Trumka that she would not vote for Senator Obama because of his race:
“Trumka said he told the woman: “Look around this town. Nemacolin is a dying town. There’s no jobs here. Our kids are moving away because there’s no future here. And here’s a man, Barack Obama, who’s gonna fight for people like us. And you wanna tell me that you won’t vote for him because of the color of his skin? Are you out of your ever-lovin’ mind, lady?'”
Hopefully, the current state of the economy, two wars, gas prices, and health care will diminish the salience of race-baiting attacks. The financial crisis, unlike crime or welfare, is difficult to fit into racial frames.
The outcome of the 2008 election isn’t just critical for policy but for future narratives as well. Imagine if McCain storms back from being down anywhere from 6 to 12 points to win going away on slander, xenophobia, and dirty tricks. Why, after this and the Swift Boats, would anyone try anything else for the next three election cycles? On the other hand, a decisive win for Obama (300+ electoral votes) would force all those campaign strategists to rethink the playbook they’ve been using since Nixon. It’s worth considering this story from Larry Bartels:
“I was very struck when I learned — many of you probably have seen, after each recent election, immediately after the election, Newsweek comes out with a big cover package on why, fill in the blank, won the election. And in 2004, they actually came out with a book that included a lot of analysis of why it was that Bush won the election.
But before the election, they actually sent out an advertisement that had two books side by side; one was why Bush won the election and the other was why Kerry won the election. And given the times of producing these things, they actually had to produce most of the package, explaining to the readers of Newsweek the following week why it was that Kerry won the election.”
The morning after an election, pundits begin to sell either (Explanatory Narrative A) or (Explanatory Narrative B) depending on the outcome. It doesn’t matter if a thousand Jews for Buchanan were the only reason we didn’t inaugurate President Gore in 2000; once the election ends, the story is about how Bush got out enough evangelicals and Gore dressed wrong and looked elitist. Subtract either voter fraud or the Workers’ World Party, and the entire political discourse between 2000 and 2004 is about how Bush was too inexperienced and poorly spoken and how the Democrats will never lose hold of the White House again. (It also might’ve spared us the twin indignities of John Kerry duck hunting and Karl Rove as rock star.) Campaigns are not just about winning this one; they’re about building frames to win the next two. With this in mind, it’s double important that the good guys win this one.