Heilemann: McCain Plans to 'Viciously' Stir Up Racism
Conservatives are more racist than the population at large, and John McCain plans to "viciously" stir up racism to beat Barack Obama. That is John Heilemann's belief, as propounded in his New York magazine article, The Color-Coded Campaign, and spelled out in a CNN appearance today. The author even broke out the trite "Wonder Bread America" epithet to describe that portion of the country not lucky enough to be NYC.
Interviewed by Kiran Chetry on "American Morning" today at 6:32 AM EDT, Heilemann's jumping-off point was the question of why Obama's lead over McCain is smaller than the 10-15 points by which Dems are generically leading Republicans nationwide. Heilemann gave short shrift to the possibility that Obama is a weak candidate, given his lack of experience and most-liberal-in-the-Senate record that puts him at odds with the electorate. He focused instead on what he claims is an under-reported factor—Obama's race. It was there that he equated conservatism with racism.
JOHN HEILEMANN: During the Democratic primaries during the exit polls we would ask people whether race was an important factor for them. And somewhere, in places like New Jersey, Ohio and Pennsylvania, 10 or 12 percent of the vote said race that was an important factor and voted for Hillary Clinton. And that's for many people a reasonable proxy to tell you about what the numbers were like for people who voted for Hillary because she was white, didn't vote for Barack because he's black. And that number will be larger in the general election because general election is a more conservative electorate than the Democratic primary electorate was.
View video here.
Now, it's true that the general electorate is whiter than the Dem primary electorate, and by definition there is more anti-black racism among whites than blacks. It would have been fair for Heilemann to make that point, but he chose instead to slur conservatives. Kiran Chetry didn't bat an eye.
Talk turned to McCain's purported tactics.
HEILEMANN: The question about McCain is, look, this is a very furious debate going on right now, about whether the McCain campaign is playing, is playing with racial elements in a lot of their ads. I think there's a pretty good case to be made that they're doing that in very subtle and kind of careful ways.
So "subtle and careful" that Heilemann couldn't—or at least didn't—cite one example. He continued.
HEILEMANN: And it's not as though the Republican party does not have a history of using very kind of ingeniously coded racial appeals to try to scare white voters away from the Democratic party generally. That would also come into play with Obama. It seems logical to conclude and I think there's a pretty good case to be made that they're starting to do that. We're going to see that throughout the rest of the campaign, even if it's not as blatant as it was back in the days of Lee Atwater and the Willie Horton ad.
Chetry again failed to make a peep.
You might say Heilemann's TV appearance was just the PG version. He presented the same arguments in more tendentious terms in his magazine article. There, Heilemann wouldn't admit the obvious—that Obama played the race card when he said that McCain would point out that the Dem "doesn't look like the other presidents on those dollar bills." To the contrary, claimed Heilemann, Obama's currency crack was a case of Obama "calling out" the McCain campaign on their racist tactics. He mentions but does not embrace the argument some have made that the Paris Hilton ad was a subtle appeal to fears of miscegenation. Heilemannn claims instead that the racism in the ad was "implicit." Translation: I'm incapable of describing what was racist about it, but trust me, it's there.
After discussing Obama campaign tactics, consisting of staying away from race and focusing on the economy, and going after McCain as with Obama's line last week on Republican reaction to the Barack's tire-inflation cure for high gas prices: "It’s like these guys take pride in being ignorant.”
But Heilemann frets this might not be tough enough, given what those perfidious McCain people are up to [emphasis added]:
Far be it from me to quarrel with either of these tactics; both are necessary and, I’d wager, right around the corner. (The Obamans are no dummies.) But they also strike me as insufficient responses to the race-fueled angst that Obama’s candidacy has stirred up and that the McCain campaign plans artfully, viciously to exacerbate in the weeks ahead.
Heilemann closes with his condescending crack about Obama's background being alien to "much of Wonder Bread America," and calls on America to have, yes, yet one more "conversation" about its own racism. Heilemann never acknowledges the possibility that Americans might reject Obama for reasons having nothing to do with race. The MSM script is already being written: if Obama loses, blame the racism of middle-America.
Note: With "Morning Joe" on a two-week hiatus for the Olympics, I'll be monitoring "American Morning" and other sources to bring you the best of liberal bias with your breakfast Wonder Bread. Judging by today's episode, looks like American Morning could be fertile territory.