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The Ludacris-Rove-McCain Axis

By       Message Robert McElvaine       (Page 1 of 1 pages)     Permalink    (# of views)   No comments

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There they go again.

The McCain campaign is charging that "Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck. It's divisive, negative, shameful and wrong," proclaimed McCain campaign manager Rick Davis.

Anyone who takes a moment to consider the accusation should see its absurdity. "Playing the race card" became a cliché when Johnnie Cochran used a racial appeal to gain the acquital of O.J. Simpson in 1995. He was able to do so because the jury was 75 percent African American.

In contrast, nearly 90 percent of the "jury" that Barack Obama will face in November -- the electorate -- will be composed of voters who are not of the race with which he identifies himself.

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Given that mathematical fact, it would be supreme stupidity for Sen. Obama to "play the race card." Whatever else his opponents may throw at him, none of them accuses him of being stupid.


"The race card" is something that is only played by someone who can hope to use it to produce a winning hand. In this game, it is obvious that that player is John McCain. The cards he holds otherwise don't include so much as a pair of deuces, so his campaign has decided to use a joker as a wild card for a black jack.

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But why now? Obama's comments on Tuesday by no stretch of the imagination constituted an injection of race into the campaign.

To see why the McCain team chose this moment to move on the only "issue" that might bring them victory, we need to look at something else that happened on Tuesday: the release of Ludacris's song, "Politics (Obama is Here)."

Along with slashing comments on McCain and Hillary Clinton, the song includes a line that is just what the Karl Rove school of divisive, diversionary politics (to which the Candidate Formerly Known as Straight Talker has sunk in his desperation) looks for: "Paint the White House black and I'm sure that's got 'em terrified."

McCain, Rove, and company certainly hope so. Terrifying "'em" is what they do best.

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Ludacris gave the moribund McCain campaign a big gift and they have been quick to use it. Obama immediately denounced the song, but the Rovians will use it to stir up as much fear as they can.

This year, the disciples of Lee Atwater don't have Willie Horton, so they'll try to make do with Ludacris.

{Historian Robert S. McElvaine is Elizabeth Chisholm Professor of Arts & Letters at Millsaps College. His latest book is Grand Theft Jesus: The Hijacking of Religion in America ,


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Robert S. McElvaine is a professor of history at Millsaps College and the author of ten books. He is a frequent contributor to the op ed pages of the major national newspapers and blogs for the Huffington Post. His latest book is "Grand Theft (more...)

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