I hadn't noticed Ruth Ann Dailey's column yesterday, but the Two Political Junkies did, and compared it to Bob Herbert’s column in the NYTimes the other day. There are interesting differences between the two, and interesting connections to other people. For example, Herbert mentioned the attempt of the Republicans to define Obama as “the other”, someone not of this country, “not sufficiently patriotic” or “one of us”. Well, David Brooks spent an entire column today about how Obama consciously stands apart from his enterprises, teaching law, organizing in the community, going to a church, being a state legislator or US Senator. Americans, Brooks says, like to be able to define their candidates and they can’t do that with Obama. That’s why Obama is not ahead in the polls. Brooks says nothing about Americans defining their candidates by race, because he doesn’t have to.
Ruth Ann Dailey pushes back in a different way. She trots out her familiar point, that the Democrats were the party of racism before the 1960’s. And she’s right, the Democrats were the party of racism, probably most explicitly in the south, but I suspect also in the north when needed. In fact, the Republicans provided the votes to get the civil rights legislation passed in the 1960’s. But since the “Southern strategy” of the 1970’s (darn that Richard Nixon, he was also responsible for the 55 mph speed limit), the positions have flipped.
But Ruth Ann does an interesting thing in her column. She accuses the Democrats of accusing the Republicans of racism ever so subtlety, but she never describes the McCain ad that set off the whole issue, at least not its racial angle. Which was my earlier point, that the attack was subtle enough that, for example, Bram Reichbaum didn’t think it had a racist component. It was just enough to set off certain voters with a predisposition to look for such things. Since the ad went out with John McCain’s approval, it needed that cover. So Ruth Ann Dailey self righteously attacks the Democrats as hypocrites, while McCain pulls even in the polls. David Brooks self righteously describes Obama’s failure to pull ahead as Obama’s own fault for being so aloof and distant, providing those independents and Democrats of a racist inclination with cover for their rejection of Obama. Meanwhile McCain jettisons everything he believed in for one last chance at the presidency, becoming the new pro-business candidate, the one who will block new regulations and allow Americans a few more years living a fantasy lifestyle. “Apres moi le deluge”