Is McCain repeating Hillary’s mistake?

August 1, 2008

How will ‘playing the race card’ affect the Presidential contest?

The past two days has been taken up by the great race controversy. John McCain put out an advert comparing Obama to two white celebrities. Obama, and the rest of the left-wing blogosphere, then claimed that McCain was playing to some subliminal racist sentiments. McCain’s campaign then claimed that Obama was ‘playing the race card’. Now, I have been critical of McCain’s flip-flop on Affirmative Action and I think the McCain campaign made a strategic mistake in wading into a debate about race. Even though I freely offer my £0.02 on most aspects of this contest, I’ll admit that American racial politics is also something that it hard to appreciate 3,000 mile across the ocean.

However, my guess is that this will backfire badly on the Obama campaign. Firstly, only an exceptionally paranoid mind can honestly claim that comparing Obama to Ms Hilton on a par with the infamous ‘Harold, call me’ advert of 2006. Whether a left-liberal bias exists in the media, there is clear polling evidence that the public think that the media want Obama to win. Secondly, the popular desire to right a history of slavery and segregation is one of the most poweful forces behind Obama’s campaign – and probably the only positive thing that could come out of an Obama victory in November. However, by exploiting it in a cynical fashion, Obama risks diminishing it – and his campaign.

So, I don’t think McCain is repeating the huge errors that Hillary Clinton made. He isn’t comparing Obama to Jesse Jackson (though I personally think that Jackson’s outburst was calculated to garner sympathy for Obama) and he isn’t ranting about ‘hardworking White people’. I would suggest, on the principle that his behaviour should be above the smallest hint of question, that McCain should avoid talking about Affirmative Action or getting involved in any debates, but I think that the Obama team are crying wolf. More importantly, I think Obama is digging a hole for himself.


One comment

  1. Just you wait and see. If this is the beginning of the GOP’s racial war, it’s going to be an ugly campaign on McCain’s side.

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