Thursday, October 9, 2008


In case you haven't been dropping by Ecstatic Days to read Vandana Singh's guest posts there, I urge you to check out a post Vandana made yesterday-- Women Writing in India: A Conversation with Urvashi Butalia and Anita Roy.

Today's San Francisco Chronicle has this: Veiled Racism Seen in New Attacks on Obama.

"It is the Willie Hortonization of Obama," said University of San Francisco associate professor of political science James Taylor. Horton, an African American man, was a Massachusetts felon who committed a rape and armed robbery while on a weekend furlough. Republican strategist Lee Atwater used a TV attack ad featuring Horton to create a negative impression of the 1988 Democratic nominee, former Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis, in the campaign's final months.

Instead of using a grainy photo of a grizzled convict as Atwater did, the current attacks, analysts say, are embedded in "coded" language. They cite as examples Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin portraying Obama as a cultural outsider and friend to terrorists and the dismissive way his Republican opponent, Sen. John McCain, referred to Obama at their Tuesday night debate as "that one."

Other recent attacks include the unsubstantiated allegation on Fox News' "Hannity's America" Sunday that Obama's community organizing work in Chicago was "training for a radical overthrow of the government." The incendiary allegations - as well as the anti-Semitic background of the source of the allegation, commentator Andy Martin - went unchallenged and undisclosed by the host, conservative commentator Sean Hannity. Fox said that the program is the host's opinion, even though the allegation was presented as a documentary. Obama did not respond to Hannity's request for comment.

The article concludes that according to Stefan Forbes, whose documentary on Lee Atwater is being released this week in San Francisco,

The key to Atwater's success was that the candidates themselves remained above the fray.

"They were friendly, like (Ronald) Reagan," Forbes said. "Just like now, Palin is the friendly face, or George W. Bush was the guy you wanted to have a beer with. They'll dance around it and say (these tactics) aren't racist, but they are.

"The next couple of weeks are going to be really fascinating," Forbes said. "If the Atwater playbook can destroy Obama when the economy is collapsing the way it is, then it can accomplish almost anything."

But Stanford University political science Professor Paul Sniderman, who recently completed a survey on racial attitudes of voters, doesn't think the attacks will work. He also said widely circulated media reports that said "Obama's support would be as much as 6 percentage points higher if there were no white racial prejudice" were wrong.

A piece at the Nation by Leslie Savan, McCain Takes His Party Prisoner, includes a video-clip of McCain addressing his audience at a campaign rally as "my fellow prisoners," obviously without realizing what he is saying. Reading Savan's piece, I wondered if McCain suffers from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (which would go some way toward explaining his wild, irrational rages).

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