The other point I forgot to mention that I think is at root as to why there is questioning of race in the recent McCain attacks is the following.
If you were to imagine yourself in the black community for a second. Here is one of the best and brightest this community and America more generally helps produce. The guy overcomes issues with an absentee father, gets a handle some drug/anger issues, becomes the President of Harvard Law Review, is one of the few black Senators ever in the history of the United States, wants to work to help build up poor communities over a big money job, is by all accounts a stellar father and husband, writes one of the single best memoirs by a politician, beats the vaunted Clinton machine, nearly singlehandedly reinvents campaigning and money collection while becoming the first black candidate from either of the two parties in the history of the United States all by the age of 46!
Not exactly a slouch in other words. Like or dislike his politics, the guy is impressive. He’s a symbol of some good things in America.
Now it’s true he’s not been in federal politics as long as many previous presidents. He wasn’t a governor as has been common of late. He wasn’t a Vice President. He’s not been a Senator as long as say John McCain. This is all true.
But he is clearly not without some impressive achievements particularly for a guy his age. You could admit all of that and still think he would not be a good president, fine, that’s cool.
Contra McCain and the Clintons, however, his rise can not all be attributed to the fact that he’s a good looking guy and charismatic and/or because white liberals are into voting for a black guy because it’s chic. Obviously there some of that going on and he wouldn’t be where he is without those magnetic qualities (that’s a flaw how?), but the idea that he is essentially no different than Paris Hilton or Britney Spears is just insane and despicable.
From the perspective of those who have felt outside mainstream America, here is this great hope, and he is not simply disagreed with he is fundamentally disrespected by the other campaign and reduced to a pop star. Now again that doesn’t mean it was intentionally racial but come on, how is this not going to be interpreted by certain folk (legitimately) as an absolute slap in the face. Again it’s an attack that is out of bounds and then the fact that the he is black adds this whole other layer to the mess. Like I said before I don’t think Camp McCain used racial overtones, I just think they are a bunch of rich white dudes that don’t have the context to understand how something like this is gong to come across. It’s not a question of intentional racism (in my mind) just stupidity and classlessness.
The implication of what it says–again whether intentional or not (and I don’t believe it was–is still extremely destructive. It sends the signals to minorities particularly that even if you play by all the rules do well in school, love your country/not complain, etc. you still will never be accepted. That the story that whoever works hard and keeps their head will achieve in this country and ultimately be embraced is a fraud.
On the other hand, I have no idea why but his opponents keep underestimating this guy–to their own peril. Memo to the McCain campaign this didn’t work for the Clintons. The obvious subtext is sets up in the mind of the observer is: if this guy is all flash and no substance, if he’s real a pushover, then why are they (McCain Camp) clearly so psyched out by this guy and attacking him all the time? If he really was such a flake, shouldn’t McCain be smoking this dude?