Last week, we learned that the conservative genius behind hard-hitting political ads including Christine O’Donnell’s now infamous “I’m not a witch” ad prepared a professionally bound train wreck intended to facilitate a Republican victory over President Obama.
The plan creatively titled, “The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama: The Ricketts Plan to End his Spending for Good” was even noted by The New York Times for its color printing in order to make it sound more official as if the plan’s mastermind Fred Davis should be taken very seriously. The plan was ultimately rejected by potential financier and Chicago Cubs owner Joe Ricketts.
The plan contained winning phrases describing President Barack Obama as “a metrosexual black Abe Lincoln” and proposing a search for an “extremely literate conservative African American” to promote the plan in the media. The central focus of the plan was an all out attack on the president using his relationship with Reverend Jeremiah Wright.
As details emerged about the plan, many denounced it as as racially insensitive. President Obama’s allies quickly pointed out that an attack on him using Jeremiah Wright is not only old hat, but it’s also a play on our worst human instincts and prejudices. As Obama’s campaign director Jim Messina said, the Ricketts Plan is “the blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself. It also reflects how far the (Republican) party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics.”
Mitt Romney seems to agree and has followed McCain’s lead in rejecting these tactics. Some conservatives are in a huff over Romney’s refusal to go there this election cycle. In an editorial written by conservative Crystal Wright for the Washington Post originally titled, “President Obama cries racism,” Ms. Wright begins, “Apparently, being America’s first black president has its benefits. It means President Obama’s campaign team can cry racism (and get away with it) any time Republicans criticize his policies or his past — specifically his past association with a racist pastor.” The Ricketts plan is then defended by Ms. Wright throughout and the president is then attacked for pulling out the race card. Ms. Wright seems to think that the "race card" is convenient trump card that people of color use when in a tight spot.
There is no denying that race is a factor in using the Reverend Jeremiah Wright against the first black president. The constant loop of Reverend Wright screaming “Goddamn America” is an intentional ploy to scare those who aren’t proactive enough to Google and listen to what he says before and after the clever editing. The demonization of “Black Liberation Theology” as the boogie man is peculiar. Irish Catholics are somehow able to be both proud of their heritage and their faith without controversy but African Americans cannot?
Some claim that by denouncing an attack using Rev. Wright is evidence of double standards, because the president and his allies are attacking Mitt Romney using his record as CEO of Bain Capital. This comparison is completely and utterly off base. Reverend Jeremiah Wright and Bain are not even in the same ballpark. The same ballpark would be if the Obama campaign chose to attack Mitt Romney’s faith and years as a Mormon bishop. In the same way conservatives relentlessly attack the president’s years in a church teaching Black liberation theology, liberals following the same standard would have to attack Mitt Romney’s Mormon faith and history of racial discrimination, polygamy in his family, and hospital visits to women as Bishop to influence their decisions to not have abortions. An attack on Reverend Wright and an attack on Mitt Romney’s central argument for why he should be president over Barack Obama are not even in the same stratosphere of argument much less evidence of a double standard.
Race is not a card. Arizona “birther” Republicans are still trying to keep the president off of the presidential ballot in the state. Just this week Hawaii had to certify the president’s birth certificate again in order to satisfy the conspiracy theorists that never die everlasting mutations of intelligent design. The racial animus towards the president isn’t imaginary. If Obama spent his time pointing out the racism directed at him every time it occurred, he wouldn’t have any time to govern. Instead he soldiers on leading the nation and doing the hard work of a president. It’s time we stop claiming he’s using the race card when he hasn’t even pulled out the deck.
Zerlina Maxwell is a political analyst and soon-to-be attorney. You can follow her on Twitter: @ZerlinaMaxwell