In political circles, David Axelrod has been on the circuit for a long time and is well known. He has never headed up a national campaign until Obama, but has run a variety of other campaigns… Senators, Mayors, Governors, etc. Deval Patrick, Barack Obama and Harold Washinton are among his many clients.
He does advise White candidates, but is primarily known for managing African American’s campaigns.
So, when everyone else was surprised that the McCain campaign “called out” Obama on his playing of the race card, I stood up and clapped.
Why, you might ask?
Because he did what Hillary Clinton, as a faithful Democrat, could not… Call “Bullshit” on the race card.
You also might wonder how McCain came up with such a quick, complete and perfectly balanced response to the playing of the race card?
Simple… they were expecting it.
Axelrod is famous for resorting to the race card when advising African American’s campaigns. As Peter Wirs puts it,
His [Axelrod's] favorite, indeed primary campaign tactic, is to polarize the campaign with smear attacks, in other words, the race card. Indeed when all else fails, Axelrod resorts to the race card as his ace in the hole.
This is something that Hillary Clinton should have been better prepared for as it is obvious this is what happened to the Clintons. My guess is that the Clinton camp probably weren’t expecting it or didn’t think it would fly… I mean, would Axelrod smear personal friends and fellow Democrats as racists, especially after all Hillary had done for the Axelrod’s and their daughter? And besides that… who would believe that the Clintons were racists, right?
The history of Axelrod and his tactic of using the race card and smearing the opponent as a racist is well documented, but there is no more blatant example than the campaign of the Philly Mayor John Street…
Street won his first term in 1999 in a razor-thin victory over GOP Sam Katz, despite a 4 to 1 voter registration edge. 2003 was anticipated to be rerun despite Street’s incumbency.
However, in the middle of the re-election campaign, with polls showing Katz actually in the lead, Street discovered that the FBI placed listening devices in the mayor’s conference room as part of a sweeping investigation of municipal corruption. The FBI’s investigation uncovered a corruption scheme led by Street’s fund raiser Ron White, who died before going to trial and secured convictions of, among others, the city treasurer, Street’s personal attorney, a family cleric, and finally Street’s older brother, on hundreds of corruption-related charges. However, the G men were never able to pin anything on Street himself. So shameful was the Street tenure that the April 17, 2005, issue of Time Magazine listed Street as one of the three worst big-city mayors in the United States.
The discovery of the FBI bug at first seemed like a death knell to the Street campaign. But under Axelrod’s skillful media manipulation, Street and his supporters successfully polarized the campaign by leveling accusations of institutional racial prejudice and playing on historical skepticism of the GOP-controlled Federal government. The result? Street crushed Katz by winning re-election by a sixteen-point margin.
Obama is merely following a path that was well worn by Axelrod’s previous clients… play the worst kind of politics possible, smear the opponent as a racist.
Interestingly enough, McCain is not gonna walk into that trap and he is not gonna put up with it. He has come up with a pretty good tactic… call Obama out on playing the race card. Letting everyone know that it’s Obama bringing up race and not him. Painting Obama as the one with the race problem… and it’s working. McCain is now tied with Obama in some polls, ahead in others.
I mean, what is Obama gonna say? Deny that he was talking about race? That McCain is the one that brought it up?
He couldn’t do anything but eat it. Besides, you can’t really call McCain a racist… kinda hard when he has a Bangladeshi daughter adopted from one of Mother Theresa’s schools.
And so here we are… Obama can’t play the race card again, the youth vote is dropping fast because of generational ADD, and people are getting tired of the same recycled “Hope and Change” speech. Looks like Obama is going to actually have to talk about policy.
I can’t wait to see what happens when Obama has to run on an actual policy platform.
And, incidentally, anyone who still argues that the Clintons are racists or made racists comments has moved from drinking the koolaid and on to snorting it right out of the packet.
UPDATE: For more, see ChrstiAdkins