Saturday, February 23, 2008

Those Ungrateful Bla... Afric... Obamas

Recently, Peggy Noonan wrote,
The Democrats have it exactly wrong. Hillary is the easier candidate, Mr. Obama the tougher. Hillary brings negative; it's fair to hit her back with negative. Mr. Obama brings hope, and speaks of a better way. He's not Bambi, he's bulletproof.

The biggest problem for the Republicans will be that no matter what they say that is not issue oriented--"He's too young, he's never run anything, he's not fully baked"--the mainstream media will tag them as dealing in racial overtones, or undertones. You can bet on this. Go to the bank on it.
You would think, as somebody who recognizes the racial subtext in attacks on the Obamas, that Noonan might be careful. Or perhaps she has decided that, whatever the risks, she needs to remind her readers, "The Obamas are black - and they're ungrateful." Speaking of Michelle Obama, Noonan writes,
I wonder if she knows that some people look at her and think "Man, she got it all." Intelligent, strong, tall, beautiful, Princeton, Harvard, black at a time when America was trying to make up for its sins and be helpful, and from a working-class family with two functioning parents who made sure she got to school
Noonan's choice of words is not accidental. She first attempts to invoke "Black English", and next suggests that Michelle Obama is not sufficiently grateful for having benefited from affirmative action. She goes on to admit that she doesn't actually care about the facts of Michelle Obama's background - "That's the great divide in modern America, whether or not you had a functioning family, and she apparently came from the privileged part of that divide". It would take her how many seconds to find a biography of Michelle Obama, or to contact somebody within the Obama campaign who could fill her in? No, the point here is to remind everybody that the Obama's are African American, probably only got where they are through affirmative action, and are committing the capital sin of being ungrateful. And in case you missed it,
A lot of white working-class Americans didn't come up with those things. Some of them were raised by a TV and a microwave and love our country anyway, every day.
(Does Noonan truly believe that "pride" and "love" are synonyms?)

After this column, it seems apparent that Noonan's concern is not that the media will wrongly infer racial overtones from Republican attacks on the Obamas. It's that when people like her attempt to inject racial overtones into the debate, they risk having somebody call them out.

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