“Coloring” the issues

Posted on Wednesday 25 June 2008

Every criticism of Barack Obama is not a racist attack, and all words are not code words. That applied to the sexism charges in the Hillary Clinton campaign, too.

Having said that, Ralph Nader is not getting intellectually sharper as he ages:

“There’s only one thing different about Barack Obama when it comes to being a Democratic presidential candidate. He’s half African-American,” Nader said. “Whether that will make any difference, I don’t know. I haven’t heard him have a strong crackdown on economic exploitation in the ghettos. Payday loans, predatory lending, asbestos, lead. What’s keeping him from doing that? Is it because he wants to talk white? He doesn’t want to appear like Jesse Jackson? We’ll see all that play out in the next few months and if he gets elected afterwards.”

For folks who get stuck on the surface, “talking white” here doesn’t mean he’s “articulate”. Nader’s saying that Barack Obama isn’t talking enough about economic issues in the ghettos.

This pathetic also-ran is playing to stereotypes in ways I find offensive.

First off, the implication is that Barack Obama must strenuously and forcibly discuss inner city problems because he’s “half African American”.

“I mean, first of all, the number one thing that a black American politician aspiring to the presidency should be is to candidly describe the plight of the poor, especially in the inner cities and the rural areas, and have a very detailed platform about how the poor is going to be defended by the law, is going to be protected by the law, and is going to be liberated by the law,” Nader said. “Haven’t heard a thing.”

There is, evidently, an ordered issues list from which a “black American politician” must choose.

If Obama’s not following the script to Ralph’s satisfaction, he is therefore “talking white” — i.e. discussing issues that only relate to white people. Which brings up the second offensive part of this for me: the reciprocal implication that the black community has no interest in issues that apply broadly to all Americans.

What a load of horse puckey!

Perhaps this is why Ralph Nader has failed so miserably in national politics and instead is a laughing-stock. He doesn’t seem to realize that a president represents everyone.

* * * * *

Added: Ed Morrissey is also repulsed by Nader’s comments, but then goes on to describe his own expectations on the level of outrage he wants to hear from the Obama campaign.

David Weigel goes for a full body slam at Reason, pointing out that Obama has, in fact, talked about the issues Nader’s gone all stupid about. (Ah…. but he hasn’t talked enuf, dangit! There’s a minimum threshold for black candidates!)

More reaction at memeorandum, here.

2 Comments for '“Coloring” the issues'

    June 25, 2008 | 1:57 pm

    I don’t disagree. But… Obama did work ad a community organizer in an economically troubled part of Chicago, so I am surprised he hasn’t had more to say on these subjects.

    June 25, 2008 | 3:06 pm

    John, how much would be satisfactory? Is it a pressing national issue? Or will this suffice? (lifted directly from the Reason link above)

    Obama has talked about capping interest rates and “driving unscrupulous lenders” out of business. Ironically, he’s bragged about removing asbestos from Chicago housing projects (got to milk those community organizer days!) to such a degree that some of his old allies think he’s hogging credit. Hell, he did a town hall/PR performance about this stuff in Chicago two weeks ago.

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