Barack Obama is again unfairly throwing out the race card at an opponent. This week Obama was warning that his Republican opponents will assault him with racist attacks, but is dropping this warning even though no one has yet done so. On July 30th, Obama said at three different campaign stops in Missouri that McCain and his backers will attack him because he "doesn't look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills." This isn't the first time that Obama has thrown out the race card at opponents that clearly did not play it first themselves.
For all his own sly use of the race card and his warnings that opponents will use his race against him, Obama claims to stand against racism in this campaign. This is a noble stance to take, naturally. Like Obama, any upstanding American should oppose using race charged attacks in political campaigns. Yet, for all his moralizing on the subject, why is it that Obama is staying silent as members of his own party -- not to mention his own race -- in Tennessee use racial slurs to attack another member of his own party? And why is it that the national media has ignored this story? Perhaps its because the candidate being attacked, Tennessee Congressman Steve Cohen, is not black but is Jewish? And perhaps its because his attackers are members of Tennessee's black religious community? And perhaps it is because the Congressional Black Caucus is funding Cohen's Democratic opponent, Nikki Tinker? And perhaps it is because Tinker is benefiting from this anti-Semitic attack against Cohen? Perhaps the media is hoping to hold out long enough for the issue to go away? And what of Obama?
These are vexing, but telling questions.
Last year, Steve Cohen ran for Tennessee's Ninth Congressional District against Nikki Tinker. During that campaign a black minister named Rev. George Brooks of Murfreesboro, Tenn., began to pass out fliers that told people that "Steve Cohen and the Jews HATE Jesus." Tinker refused to repudiate this flier in her support. At that same time, several other black preachers and ministers also attacked Cohen because he wasn't black. A Rev. Robert Poindexter is reported to have said about Cohen that, "He's not black and he can't represent me, that's just the bottom line."
Both Cohen and Tinker are supporting Barack Obama with Cohen, who came out fast and first in Obama's support, standing as an Obama super delegate. Despite this, Barack Obama has studiously ignored the race in Tennessee's Ninth District.
Neither Cohen nor Tinker expect Obama to weigh in on their particular race. As the Memphis Commercial Appeal reports, "Neither campaign expects Obama to endorse or influence in any other way the primary," and this seems to show that Obama is not willing to forcefully denounce the racist attacks that Cohen has been facing.
As Erick Erickson of RedState said on the 31st:
In Tennessee-9, Barack Obama has remained silent. He could, of course, practice what he preaches. He could transcend race and help the healing. Barack Obama could weigh in publicly for Steve Cohen. Barack Obama could denounce the anti-Semitism and racism (and blatant sexism) being hurled toward a sitting congressman.
Sadly, it looks like Obama is missing a chance, merely for political expediency, to call out real, not imagined or supposed, racist campaign tactics upon which to make a serious stand against racism in campaigns.
On the other hand, Obama himself does not seem to be above injecting race into his campaign. Obama has, of course, slyly used the race card several times in the recent past. Some may recall in January, during the Democratic Primaries, Hillary Clinton gave a clumsy response to a question about Martin Luther king, Jr. and civil rights saying that it took President Lyndon Johnson to finish King's work via legislation. Obama needlessly turned that into some sort of racist attack against himself and icon King. In April, Bill Clinton said that Obama won the South Carolina Primary like Jesse Jackson did decades earlier. Obama tried to turn this into a racist attack, too. Not to mention the March incident where Obama called his own grandmother a "typical white person" insinuating she was a racist and that, in turn, all whites are as well.
In reality, Obama's moralizing has appeared preemptive, not responsive to any attacks on him and has seemed cynical in its use. Still, the possible underhandedness aside, he clearly wants to stand against using racist attacks in this campaign and claims to want to stand up against such stuff. One would think that this example of racist attacks in Tennessee would be a perfect platform for him to make a stand against real racism happening right now. Sadly, Obama stays silent about these hateful actions against Steve Cohen.
Even worse, the national media has sparsely covered these anti-Semitic, racist and sexist attacks against Steve Cohen. Along with Obama, it appears the media is whistling through the graveyard, hoping Tinker will successfully defeat Cohen's bid for reelection and then the whole issue will just go away.
After all, any real nationwide attention on this would force the media to take sides between two Democrats and would also force Barack Obama to either stand up against anti-Semitic racism and against a black female candidate, or stand up for the black, female candidate turning a blind eye to anti-Semitic attacks on Cohen. But, if Barack Obama truly wanted to stand up against racism and if the media truly wanted to see racism attacked where it exists, both would comment on the racist attacks suffered by Democrat Steve Cohen of Tennessee.
Yet all remain mysteriously silent. This is a moral indictment on both the media and Barack Obama.