Racism and the Obama campaign

Very interesting (and very disturbing) story in the Post today about just how much overt racism exists towards the Obama campaign.  Lots of interesting comments from Pennsylvania that appear to give credence to the “Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in between” expression I've heard.  Some high(low) lights:

For all the hope and excitement Obama's candidacy is generating, some
of his field workers, phone-bank volunteers and campaign surrogates are
encountering a raw racism and hostility that have gone largely
unnoticed — and unreported — this election season. Doors have been
slammed in their faces. They've been called racially derogatory names
(including the white volunteers). And they've endured malicious rants
and ugly stereotyping from people who can't fathom that the senator
from Illinois could become the first African American president…

Victoria Switzer, a retired social studies teacher, was on phone-bank
duty one night during the Pennsylvania primary campaign. One night was
all she could take: “It wasn't pretty.” She made 60 calls to
prospective voters in Susquehanna County,
her home county, which is 98 percent white. The responses were
dispiriting. One caller, Switzer remembers, said he couldn't possibly
vote for Obama and concluded: “Hang that darky from a tree!”

Documentary filmmaker Rory Kennedy, the daughter of the late Robert F. Kennedy,
said she, too, came across “a lot of racism” when campaigning for Obama
in Pennsylvania. One Pittsburgh union organizer told her he would not
vote for Obama because he is black, and a white voter, she said,
offered this frank reason for not backing Obama: “White people look out
for white people, and black people look out for black people.” …

Karen Seifert, a volunteer from New York, was outside of the largest polling location in Lackawanna County,
Pa., on primary day when she was pressed by a Clinton volunteer to
explain her backing of Obama. “I trust him,” Seifert replied. According
to Seifert, the woman pointed to Obama's face on Seifert's T-shirt and
said: “He's a half-breed and he's a Muslim. How can you trust that?”

On a very related note, John Judis had a really good article in TNR today about social science research on the psychology of racism.  The take-away:

In the end, the lesson of political psychology for Democrats is not to
avoid nominating black candidates. It is simply to understand that
America's racial history continues to influence the calculations of
voters–sometimes near the forefronts of their minds, sometimes in the
deep recesses of their unconscious. For liberals, acknowledging these
obstacles is the first step to blunting them. If Obama can focus the
election on the economy and Iraq, he could very well win in spite of
the angry words of Reverend Wright and 200 years of both old- fashioned
racism and newfangled racial resentment. If he can't, he is likely to
suffer the same fate as Michael Dukakis–and this time it won't take a Willie Horton commercial.

What might derail Obama’s campaign

John Cole with some hilarious speculation on the sort of event that might undo Obama's campaign:

I just saw the talking heads on Hardball state that one reason Hillary is staying in until the end is ?in case something big happens to derail Obama.?

I simply do not understand this logic at all. If Hillary drops out of the race, and something major is unearthed about Obama that would derail his candidacy (a videotape surfaces of him doing cocaine off the nipple of a teenage boy while Imams chant the Koran and organize a gun running organization for Hamas and Al Qaeda), who the hell does she think the delegates are going to turn to- Edwards?

It is a simple no-brainer that ?if something happened,? Hillary would be the party candidate. She doesn?t need to be in the race to get the nod in that situation.

Not saying she should get out, just saying that is a particularly silly argument.

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