The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

Opinion

April 21, 2014

Race card season again?

(Continued)

“What attorney general has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?” he said. “What president has ever had to deal with that kind of treatment?”

Holder didn’t mention race because he didn’t have to. As an African-American speaking to a group that conservatives love like they love the Ebola virus, his remarks sounded like a black-oriented version of what liberals would call a racially coded “dog whistle” if it had come from right-wing whites.

What’s going on? Why, after years of accusing Republicans of unfairly accusing Democrats of playing the race card, do top Democrats seem suddenly to be throwing all caution to the winds. Why? Three theories come to mind:

Theory One: Anger. A lot of it is pent-up among Democrats after a half-dozen years of playing nice to help their Big Guy in the White House. Now it’s getting near closing time for Team Obama. (Holder may even be leaving this year) and Dems feel more freedom to say what they really think.

Theory Two: Fear. As mid-term elections approach, what better way to rev up their liberal and heavily nonwhite base for the mid-terms than to highlight differences with conservatives over issues of racial and gender equality? A common theme connects congressional Democrats alleging racism and President Obama’s promotions of pay equity and warnings about conservative rollbacks in the Voting Rights Act.

Theory Three: Shameless self-promotion. Since July 2012, Major Garrett, CBS News’ chief White House reporter, has been reporting in National Journal on “Stray Voltage,” a strategy of generating controversy on purpose, simply “for the sake of milking it.”

Such was the case, Garrett offers, when the White House claim that the median wages of working women in America are 77 percent of median wages earned by men were challenged by critics on the left and right. No problem. Under the “stray voltage” strategy, Obama’s message will be remembered long after statistics are forgotten.

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