Unanimous: Hardball Panel Agrees Obama Playing Race Card

July 31st, 2008 7:14 PM

You might say nothing could be more unsurprising than a panel of political pundits admitting the obvious: that Barack Obama is playing the race card when he accuses John McCain of saying the Dem candidate "doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency."

But what makes the punditry panel's unanimity notable is that no one would accuse them of being McCain backers, and what's more, that they turned up on Hardball.  Surely Chris Matthews, were he not on vacation, would have found one diehard to deny reality.  But with Mike Barnicle guest-hosting, a consensus of truth-telling broke out.

Barnicle began by playing a clip of McCain, interviewed by CNN's John King, saying that it is legitimate to accuse Obama of having played the race card.  The video is worth viewing if only to watch McCain end the interview by shaking a surprised King's hand and walking away. Then the panel commented.  Perry Bacon of the Washington Post said he would decline to answer directly, but his answer left no real doubt as to his view.

View video here.

PERRY BACON: I will say that Obama usually says that "they," or Republicans, are suggesting that I'm unusual or I'm different.  He yesterday said that McCain or Bush, which I think is different. I think he has not said that before. So I think this is part of a different issue than usual.

Jonathan Martin of Politico agreed.

JONATHAN MARTIN: Perry's right. In fact, McCain's top aide Steve Schmidt told me today that was part of the reason why they seized on this. In the past [Obama's] done the general flow. Yesterday it was McCain himself that they were accusing him of.  The McCain folks wanted to seize on this quickly and make sure he knew they were not going to tolerate a direct accusation of McCain playing the race card here.  

Jill Zuckman of the Chicago Tribune made it unanimous.

JILL ZUCKMAN: That's exactly right.  They don't want to be tarred with it, they say they're not doing it, they're not going to do it.  The only person in this presidential race who was ever sucked into a horrible race accusation was John McCain in 2000 in South Carolina, and that's when the opposition said he had fathered an illegitimate black child, only they were referring to his adopted daughter from Bangladesh.