When politicians interject race into a campaign, they seldom do it directly. Consider McCain’s new ad, which the campaign says it will be airing nationally:
This is hardly subtle: Sinister images of two black men, followed by one of a vulnerable-looking elderly white woman.
Let me stipulate: Obama’s Fannie Mae connections are completely fair game. But this ad doesn’t even mention a far more significant tie–that of Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman who had to resign as head of Obama’s vice presidential search team after it was revealed he got a sweetheart deal on a mortgage from Countrywide Financial. Instead, it relies on a fleeting and tenuous reference in a Washington Post Style section story to suggest that Obama’s principal economic adviser is former Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines. Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black.
And the image of the victim doesn’t seem accidental either, given the fact that older white women are a key swing constituency in this election.
After the McCain campaign introduced the ad, the Obama campaign responded with this statement:
Statement from Frank Raines on the ad: “I am not an advisor to Barack Obama, nor have I provided his campaign with advice on housing or economic matters.”
“This is another flat-out lie from a dishonorable campaign that is increasingly incapable of telling the truth. Frank Raines has never advised Senator Obama about anything — ever. And by the way, someone whose campaign manager and top advisor worked and lobbied for Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac shouldn’t be throwing stones from his seven glass houses,” said Obama-Biden campaign spokesman Bill Burton.
At Politico, Ben Smith reports:
McCain spokesman Brian Rogers notes that Obama didn’t contradict the claim when it first appeared in the Post.
But that’s not really the point of the ad, is it?
UPDATE: The McCain campaign has now put out an ad on Jim Johnson. Please see my post above.
UPDATE2: A number of commenters continue to be unaware that I did indeed post something on the Johnson ad. In fact, I did it within minutes of the ad being announced. Here’s the link, as well as a link to what Ana wrote about it.
Meanwhile, the Washington Post–upon whose reporting the McCain campaign based this dubious ad–has done a FactCheck on it. Their conclusion:
The McCain campaign is clearly exaggerating wildly in attempting to depict Franklin Raines as a close adviser to Obama on “housing and mortgage policy.” If we are to believe Raines, he did have a couple of telephone conversations with someone in the Obama campaign. But that hardly makes him an adviser to the candidate himself — and certainly not in the way depicted in the McCain video release.