For weeks the media has been going at Obama for being “arrogant” for doing things that aren’t really arrogant, like setting  up a transition team or you know, just running for president. McCain’s campaign ran with the theme, running several ads mocking Obama for being “a celebrity” and insinuating Obama has a Messiah Complex. Yesterday reporter David Gergen broke down the code on ABC’s This Week, letting white folks outside the south know what’s up: 

There’s an inherent arrogance required in thinking you can govern a country of 300 Million people. But the folks behind the stories on Obama’s “arrogance” seem to be plainly offended at the idea that Obama is seriously running for president, because apparently some people thought he was just here to make them feel better about race.

I don’t think it’s possible for Obama to deal with the subtextual racism directly without seriously harming his campaign. I think that even if something is done or said about him that is blatantly racist, Obama wins more points by acting like it isn’t. And I think that in general, people will try to avoid thinking about the racial subtext in McCain’s attacks.

But I also think it’s possible for them to overplay this card. When I see Joe Lieberman on Meet the Press repeating “good young man” like he’s been practicing it in a mirror, ( I guess that’s what they say in Connecticut instead of “boy”) and CBS mocking Obama for having a nice campaign plane, (Word? Not everybody’s wife has their own plane, CBS.) I start to wonder whether they’ve been playing this “uppity” card a bit too much. Most people care more about being accused of being racist than actual racism, but I think people also generally recoil when the racism of a particular remark becomes obvious. Aside from Gergen, media critic James Rainey in the LA Times is also pointing out that the “arrogant” storyline is ridiculous. Of course, we all know what they’re really saying. 

Maybe I’m just being optimistic, but I think this kind of language will eventually backfire, especially if Obama doesn’t give McCain the opportunity to say he “played the race card” again. It’s only so long you can hate on somebody before people realize that you’re just insecure.

UPDATE: Oh yeah, and I forgot to add a somewhat unrelated point, that the working class white folks Obama was supposedly having trouble reaching aren’t buying this mess. Obama leads McCain in this demographic by ten points

I can see the headlines now: “Obama’s strong support among working class raises questions about ability to lead.”


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