Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Race Talk = Race Card

I need help from someone who is more attuned to conservative race discourse to help explain this to me.

Okay, so there has been a bit a flare-up between the camps of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, over statements by a former Clinton-camper (David Geffen) who now is supporting Obama. During the dueling press releases, Obama's camp argued:
"We aren't going to get in the middle of a disagreement between the Clintons and someone who was once one of their biggest supporters," Obama communications director Robert Gibbs said. "It is ironic that the Clintons had no problem with David Geffen when was raising them $18 million and sleeping at their invitation in the Lincoln bedroom. It is also ironic that Senator Clinton lavished praise on Monday and is fully willing to accept today the support of South Carolina State Sen. Robert Ford, who said if Barack Obama were to win the nomination, he would drag down the rest of the Democratic Party because he's black."

Gibbs is not exaggerating, Senator Ford (who is himself Black) most certainly did say just that:
"It's a slim possibility for him to get the nomination, but then everybody else is doomed . . . . Every Democrat running on that ticket next year would lose - because he's black and he's top of the ticket. We'd lose the House and the Senate and the governors and everything."

Now, merits of the political analysis aside, Ford is basically saying "don't nominate Obama because he's Black."

Picking up the story, Powerline gleefully notes that "Barack Obama is playing the race card against Hillary Clinton!"

My question is: Is there any possible way for a Black public figure in America to talk about race in a manner that is not immediately tarred as "playing the race card"? Up until today, I'd have said, "when they're protesting the argument that Black people shouldn't be nominated for President," but apparently our horizon as been pushed yet further back.

And so, this whole line of argument remains incomprehensible to me.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I think of "the race card" as a tool to mean you can't talk about race. I think the time has come that we can talk about race in civil discorse. I disagree with Senator Ford, I don't think race matters, but its time we have that discussion. Recent polls say that race would not matter to most Americans. I think Senator Obama should have said it doesn't matter if I'm black, I'm the best person for the job and I'm going to win. Of course I'm not "the far right", and this is just my opinion.