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John McCain's Advice Ad Is A Study In Racial Manipulation

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Message Hargrove Jones

John McCain's Advice ad stirs up racial sentiments, as the context in which the question of whether or not Barack Obama is an appropriate person to be president is raised. Undisturbed, these sentiments would compel a negative answer.

The story line of John McCain's Advice ad is about an African American man who achieved an inordinately high position, and misused it in a criminal way, to enrich himself and destroy those who entrusted him with power.

Another African-American man is desirous of achieving an inordinately high position in another profession, and he goes to this unscrupulous African-American man for advice . . .

The African-American man, who is in pursuit of success, intends to duplicate the immoral and unethical actions of the first African-American man; otherwise, why would he come to him for advice?

The theme of the story is that African American men are predatory. This is conveyed by placing their faces from one side of the screen to the other, creating a circling affect, like wolves encircling their prey. In the final image, Raines is in an advantageous position to pounce, and the sinister expression on his face conveys a readiness to do just that. Then we see the "victim," looking out of the side of her eyes, anticipating her horrible fate, but too frightened to confront the impending danger head on. Then we are informed that she will be "stuck," with a bill, or perhaps something else, and the last face we see is a smiling Barack Obama.

For many months now, John McCain has told us that Barack Obama lacks judgement. But this time, although his ad provided the perfect opportunity to raise the judgement charge, he chose the word instinct instead. Perhaps because it's true to the theme of the ad. The ad implies that African American men are predatory, and like natural predators, namely animals, they are the product of their instincts, which are, according to the ad, "bad instincts."

In effect, the Advice ad "says" that African Americans are predatory, untrustworthy, and if given the reins of power, they will exploit it to their benefit, and to the detriment of those who entrust them with power. It is their nature, and they act according to their nature, namely, their instincts.

It would not surprise me if the comment in the Washington Post, that Franklin Raines had "taken calls from Barack Obama's presidential campaign seeking his advice on mortgage and housing policy matters," and John McCain's decision to develop an ad, based on that, is not the truth of how this ad came about. It is more likely that this ad was a long time in the making, and that the people involved had conceived of the ad before they even identified the African American man who would play opposite Barack Obama. In my opinion, it was a conspiracy that included, but may not be limited to, the Washington Post "reporter," Anita Huslin; John McCain's adviser, Carly Fiorina; and the McCain staff who developed the ad and the rationale for it's creation, as well as those who identified Franklin Raines and devised opportunities to link him to Barack Obama.

Anita Huslin probably didn't want to go so far as to say that Franklin Raines actually said that he advised Barack Obama, so she said that calls were made from the campaign asking for advice. It is not news that someone from a campaign called and asked for advice. Hence it is highly suspect that what should have been irrelevant information made it into her article. For the same reason that it is not likely that calls from nameless people would make it into an article, it is not likely that McCain's people would notice this bit of information in an article and conclude, this is important enough to develop an ad around. To believe this scenario, one has to believe that McCain's people didn't care who made the calls, or the content of the calls, that they didn't care if Franklin Raines actually provided any advice, that they didn't consider it necessary to contact anyone, including the two men who would star in the ad. We would also have to believe that telephone calls from unknown people are the sole basis for the production of the Advice ad.

In addition, Franklin Raines forwarded an e-mail to Carly Fiorina that contained a note informing him that she was on television characterizing him as an adviser to Barack Obama. He told her that was not the truth. She did not respond to his e-mail. Most professionals, informed that they "mistakenly" mischaracterized the professional activities of a colleague, would apologetically respond after being informed of their error. I think that Carly Fiorina did not respond because she did not want to create a record that could establish that John McCain's campaign knew that there was no advisory relationship between Barack Obama and Franklin Raines.

Finally, why would John McCain forge ahead with an ad about an advisory relationship, after both of the principals denied the existence of such a relationship, and the report that he relied on does not say that an advisory relationship exists? With that as a backdrop, it suggests an interests in this ad that is independent of the so called advisory relationship that it purports to expose. I think that interest is to trigger racial stereotypes in the mind of prospective voters, in order to persuade them not to vote for Barack Obama.


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Student of social dynamics, especially as it relates to issues of race and sex.
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