During the 2008 presidential election, a journalist from the Washington Post named Spencer Ackerman tried to corral journalists from publications like Time, Politico, the Huffington Post, the Baltimore Sun, and several others for the purpose of protecting Barack Obama from a "swirling controversy" involving his disavowed pastor Jeremiah Wright.
On a private discussion board, Acherman told fellow journalists it was time to deflect attention away from Obama by calling conservative commentators like Karl Rove and Fred Barnes racists whenever they discussed Jeremiah Wright's controversial sermons. Important to note, their strategy wasn't about healing the racial divide, but using race a blunt instrument to secure an advantage for the Democrat Party.
Wisconsin Democrats and a number of others are jumping on what they believe to be a major gaffe committed by the Walker campaign. On Monday, President Obama visited Menomonee Falls to stump for gubernatorial candidate Tom Barrett. On the same day, Scott Walker organized a rally at the Hoan Bridge drawing attention to Doyle's High Speed Rail project while running colorful ads that linked Obama and Barrett to the rail line.
Monday was supposed to be Walker's day to derail Barrett. But while Obama was in town, campaign communications director Jill Bader forwarded a twitter post saying, "Ha!@hotairblog commenter: Pres. Obama's response to @ScottKWalker's www.NoTrain.com." The tweet linked to a video of people in a disco, primarily African-American, dancing to a popular 90's song called "Come Un 'N Ride It (The Train).
The Democrat Party of Wisconsin pounced on Walker calling Bader's tweet a "calculated defiance of our state's deep tradition of tolerance". The Democrat Party's Black Caucus called the tweet a "racially coded program of division". Chairman of the County Board Lee Holloway demanded an immediate apology from Walker calling his staffers "naive and unsophisticated". Tom Barrett's campaign called the tweet "tasteless" and "inappropriate", adding that if his campaign was responsible for it, someone would have lost their job.
Adding to the coverage, Milwaukee Journal Sentinel columnist Eugene Kane said it wasn't in Walker's best interest to let "clueless aids send out snarky messages that could be construed as racist". What's really going on here? Is this about racism or about political advantage? Well, all of the people barking share one common denominator: they are Democrats. How would they react if a Democrat had done the same thing?
It is no secret that racially insensitive gaffes by Democrats are typically ignored while those made by Republicans are amped up by the media. Recall Joe Biden's statement during the presidential campaign that Barack Obama was the "first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and nice-looking guy"?
This was a remarkable statement that drew virtually no criticism from any African-American groups. Where was the Black Caucus on the issue? Strangely, they were silent. Where was the NAACP? They were silent as well.
Now contrast Biden's remarks with Bader's link to a song about riding a train. The video itself wasn't inherently racist or provocative. In fact, there were white folks dancing in the video as well. But if the video wasn't racist, then Democrats must be attacking Bader's motive, right? Unless they are mind readers, their case seems pretty flimsy.
El Conquistador contacted Tom Barrett's campaign office to get an official response on the tweet, but thus far they have not return our calls. However, we managed to contact columnist Eugene Kane. Kane's column yesterday pointed out that Bader's tweet didn't seem like a coincidence. After all, as Eugene Kane pointed out in his article,
"It would be easier to dismiss the gaffe as an honest mistake if not for the fact neither Republican candidate for governor seems to be making much effort to court African-American votes."
So unless one tries to court a community that heavily votes party-line for Democrats, gaffes cannot be excused? Sounds like a pretty one-sided standard. This seems to fit quite well with Kane's past statements. When Joe Biden said Obama was the first mainstream black that was clean and articulate, Kane called it a "slip".
Unfortunately, as a society, we permit political parties to use race as a leverage point by buying into the hype. After all, if it didn't work, people would stop doing it. Most times, there is so much more to a person than how people perceive them. It is my bet that if any of the people that were quick to throw stones at Jill Bader had actually met her, they wouldn't have picked up their stones up at all.