“Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong,” McCain campaign manager Rick Davis said Thursday. He was referring to the Illinois senator’s comment Wednesday that Republicans were trying to scare voters about him because, among other things, “he doesn’t look like all the presidents on the dollar bills and the five-dollar bills.” Meanwhile, some analysts are arguing that the already infamous Britney Spears/Paris Hilton ad was designed to subliminally trigger voter racism.
Earlier this morning, McCain campaign manager Rick Davis released this one-sentence statement: “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.”
The statement refers to this Obama line yesterday: “So nobody really thinks that Bush or McCain have a real answer for the challenges we face, so what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He’s risky. That’s essentially the argument they’re making.”
Obama’s remark yesterday seemed innocuous. In fact, it’s similar to what he has said many times before. “I know that I don’t look like the Americans who’ve previously spoken in this great city,” Obama noted in last week’s speech in Berlin.
Perhaps more important, Obama’s remarks wouldn’t have been seen as playing the race card if Davis hadn’t issued this release. After all, the best way to play the race card sometimes is to accuse the other side of playing it.
Could you argue Obama has used the color of his skin as an attempt to garner votes? Yes. Could you also argue that some Republicans have played the race card? Yes. And was it inevitable that race was going to play a role in this campaign? Yes.
But Obama’s remarks yesterday seemed like an obvious observation; Obama was very subtle. Davis, though, decided to use a sledgehammer.