The Racist Campaign of John McCain

By jaredmoshe | Jared Moshé's Blog August 14, 2008 at 9:25AM

The Racist Campaign of John McCain

Eric Alterman hits in the nail on the head in his (latest) must-read piece on the spinelessness of the Washington Press Corp, when he writes:

'Barack Obama is black, and burdened with a Muslim-sounding name, in a country that has yet to transcend the racial horrors of its past or the reflexive parochialism and xenophobia of much of its populace. McCain must depend on these two factors to remain competitive in an election year when all indications suggest that a conservative Republican would have little to no chance of victory.

Of course, a presidential campaign cannot openly traffic in racism and xenophobia. So it must conduct this campaign in a kind of code. Historically blacks and dark-skinned immigrants have been accused of "not knowing their place" by whites who see their positions challenged, and are deemed to be "uppity." The code word du jour is "presumptuous."

Behind all the slash and burn ads that McCain and his surrogates are putting out there, behind all the press releases and repeated phrases, is this one unifying idea. Obama is an "uppity black man." Take the entire celebrity positioning. Who cares? America loves it's celebrities from Arnold Schwartzenager to Ronald Reagan to Jesse "The Body" Ventura to Fred Thompson to Clint Eastwood to Sunny Bono. All celebrities who have won public offices.

The ads are not just about people making Obama a celebrity, they are about Obama thinking he is a celebrity. And if he thinks he's celebrity, if he's that "presumptous," that "uppity," what's next? Maybe he'll be trying to go to "the country clubs!"

And worse yet McCain suggests, never mind his family, he'll soon be sleeping with white women - a racist fear that stretches all the way from slavery to the civil rights movement and beyond (read more here). That's the fundamental truth of the Britney/Paris ad.

Why choose Britney Spears and Paris Hilton? Their time in the limelight is waning. The McCain campaign chose them because of they are young and white and blond and are, more there anything, defined by their sexuality. And to slam his point home, McCain uses images of Obama with the leaning tower of Piza, the Effiel Tower and the Washington Monument - three uber phallic monuments!

All other references to celebrity or further celebrity ads fall back on this one racist idea. It is the core of the McCain campaign, and it makes me ashamed as American that a major presidential candidate is using race to win an election.

This article is related to: Political Dispatches