NYT: McCain campaign’s “Celeb” ad was …. racist (MORE: VIDEO – MCCAIN DEFENDS AD)

Like we didn’t see this one coming a mile away …

NYT: Say What? John McCain, Barack Obama, and the “Race Card” (emphasis added):

The presumptive Republican nominee has embarked on a bare-knuckled barrage of negative advertising aimed at belittling Mr. Obama. The most recent ad compares the presumptive Democratic nominee for president to Britney Spears and Paris Hilton — suggesting to voters that he’s nothing more than a bubble-headed, publicity-seeking celebrity.

The ad gave us an uneasy feeling that the McCain campaign was starting up the same sort of racially tinged attack on Mr. Obama that Republican operatives, some of whom work for Mr. McCain now, ran against Harold Ford, a black candidate for Senate in Tennessee in 2006. That assault, too, began with videos juxtaposing Mr. Ford with young, white women.

Mr. Obama called Mr. McCain on the ploy, saying, quite rightly, that the Republicans are trying to scare voters by pointing out that he “doesn’t look like all those other Presidents on those dollar bills.”

But Rick Davis, Mr. McCain’s campaign manager, had a snappy answer. “Barack Obama has played the race card, and he played it from the bottom of the deck” he said. “It’s divisive, negative, shameful and wrong.”

The retort was, we must say, not only contemptible, but shrewd. It puts the sin for the racial attack not on those who made it, but on the victim of the attack.

It also — and we wish this were coincidence, but we doubt it — conjurs up another loaded racial image.

The phrase dealing the race card “from the bottom of the deck” entered the national lexicon during the O.J. Simpson saga. Robert Shapiro, one of Mr. Simpson’s lawyers, famously declared of himself, Johnny Cochran and the rest of the Simpson defense team, “Not only did we play the race card, we dealt it from the bottom of the deck.”

Uh, talk about digging for something that doesn’t exist.  Show of hands (or comments) of how many of you read the term “from the bottom of the deck” and immediately thought “racism”??  And let’s not kid ourselves: had the ad had two black celebs in it, the immediate reaction would still have been “racism! They’re trying to paint him as ‘just the black candidate!'” It goes on and on.

Now the myth is born, courtesy of the NYT: It’s McCain playing the race card, not Obama. 

I swear, you cannot make this crap up.

Related: Marc Ambinder reports that the McCain camp is not backing down on the celebrity theme, and in fact are continuing it by portraying Obama as more of an out of touch celebrity than an experienced, substantial candidate for president.

Update: Here’s video of McCain defending the Celeb ad:


First of all, let me say that there are differences, and we drawing those differences. I said earlier that I admire his campaign, but what we’re talking about here is substance and not style. Campaigns are tough, but I’m proud of the campaign that we have run, I’m proud of the issues we are trying to address with the American people. And, again, I would hope that Senator Obama would join me so that we could discuss this – as he said he wanted a “duel” over taxes, as I think he said yesterday.

All I can say is that we are proud of that commercial. We think Americans need to know that I believe that we should be basing this campaign on what we can do for Americans here at home and how we can make America safe and prosperous, and that’s the theme of my campaign.

Last but not least, the Obama campaign has launched a new part of his website called “McCain’s Low Road Express” in an attempt to counter ads like “Celeb.” 


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