The Benefit of the Doubt


Political correctness is destroying a national conversation. Instead of being able to loudly and freely debate the merits of two presidential candidates, Americans - Democrats in particular - find their ability to analyze and criticize stifled by speech conventions bordering on silly.

Like sitcom characters twisting every utterance into sexual innuendo, party flaks are able to contort every criticism of Obama and Clinton into racism or sexism. The Red Phone ad is about a black man "lurking in the bushes" to prey on white and Hispanic children? Huh? Obama's rise is America's expression of latent gender bias? Huh?

Presidential campaigns have never been clean or amiable, and sometimes sharp debates about policy degenerate into personal sniping. But we are seeing something even worse: the personal sniping is degenerating into identity group bashing. The good news is, it's all fake. Bill Clinton doesn't despise black people. Obama is not a misogynist. Nor are most of the various supporters who have been repudiated, rejected, denounced, anathematized, shunned, banned, and burned at the stake.

Before the entire country descends into a politically corrected quagmire, let's set some sensible, generous-minded ground rules for debate.
  1. Before crying "race" or "gender", ask yourself, "What would the Swift Boaters do?". If the apparent insult is not worse than what John Kerry endured, assume it's not racism/sexism.
  2. Before leveling a criticism at a candidate, ask yourself, "Would this criticism make sense if Ted Kennedy or John Edwards were the nominee?"
  3. Before blaming a candidate's loss in a particular state on the race/gender of the voters, look for other explanations. Use identity only if the other explanations don't make sense.
  4. Before castigating an opponent's surrogate for being "racist" or "sexist", ask yourself whether you want the support of that person and his followers in the general election. Most people will admit to being occasionally impolite or overzealous; but is the average political operative going to forget being smeared as racist or sexist by members of his own party?
  5. Before pushing your candidate as the only choice for voters who look or pee like him, ask yourself whether you're willing to alienate those who look or pee differently. If a candidate pitches himself as the representative of a race or gender, America will probably reject him: we want a president of all Americans.
Most of these ground rules carry over to the general election. And for left-leaning analysts, there's a very important logical principle to remember when reporting poll results. If you blame Obama or Clinton's loss to McCain on race or gender, it's Democrats you're calling racist or sexist. As a conservative, I'm going to vote for McCain no matter what color and chromosome of leftist the Dems put on the ticket. But if the Democratic candidate ends up losing, it will be because a significant number of Democrats and independents switched sides. So be careful about painting America racist/sexist: those are your own people (plus swing voters) you're smearing, and chances are they'll vote for McCain for a lot of the same reasons they voted for Reagan, Bill Clinton, and two Bushes, none of whom faced a "minority" opponent.
Posted by Chops at March 17, 2008 2:25 PM
Comments
Comment #248254

Hogwash.

Posted by: Rachel at March 17, 2008 3:17 PM
Comment #248256

now that is a nice answer Rachel…..you are so deep

Posted by: Dave at March 17, 2008 3:39 PM
Comment #248259

I personally like Rachel’s analysis.

My acid test is though, if Bush or Cheney would do it, it must be wrong.

Keep dreaming, chops, but what are you going to blame McCain’s landslide defeat on? Left wingnuts?

Posted by: googlumpus at March 17, 2008 3:46 PM
Comment #248264

I don’t see a problem with this analysis. My vote is based on the candidate’s record, their words, their actions. Not the color of their skin, their physical looks, or the box they check for gender. I just wish politics wouldn’t degrade into name calling and stay on topic.

Posted by: Chris at March 17, 2008 4:42 PM
Comment #248272

And why not? Do you think Obama would’ve gotten this far if he had not been mixed? This only raises the standard-of how they’ll use race and sex. Political interracial action, black versus white, you normally pay double for that, or so I’m told.

Remember the saying “once you go black you can never go back!” That’s because you’re lost, look for an exit strategy(I didn’t say Bush). Obama’s run is looking more and more like a run for the special olympics, you’d love to see him win but laugh insanely because he doesn’t know where the finish line is(man that’s terrible). But I don’t condone that sort of folly, it’s down right inhumane to listen to people who make fun of others because of their race or sex, but it makes good Saturday Night Live material! Let the MSM’s have their way, we can watch from the sidelines and be amused at the short comings of every campaign out there now(men like McCain are in short supply).

But then there’s also the saying “but white’s right.” Can’t argue there, can’t count how many times I’ve used that pickup line, well it wasn’t really a pickup, it was more of a shotgun in your face thing. Anyway, I like to remind myself of another saying from a little know character that has absolutely no reason to be left out “I don’t care if black, tan, brown, purple, yellow, or chinese-you’re all the same in branigan’s book.”

(please read the above from the perspective of Steven Colbert for added hilarity)

Posted by: dobropet at March 17, 2008 6:12 PM
Comment #248276
Keep dreaming, chops, but what are you going to blame McCain’s landslide defeat on? Left wingnuts?

No, he’ll be blame it on the racist/sexist voters that wouldn’t vote for a White male. :)

Voting or not voting for someone just because of race or sex makes as much sense as trying to put a house fire by spitting on it. But unfortunately of whole heap of folks will vote based on race or sex. And voters from both parties will be guilty of voting based on race or sex.
I’ve already heard it. Gotta have a women President. Gotta have a Black President. Can’t have a women President. Can’t have a Black President.
HOGWASH!!!!!
Voting race, sex, religion, etc. has gotten some pretty lousy candidates elected and some very good ones defeated.
What ever happened to voting for the best qualified candidate?

Posted by: Ron Brown at March 17, 2008 6:28 PM
Comment #248277

I agree with chops. We dems are being much too politically correct regarding comments made about Obama’s race. All of the comments I’ve heard, from Bill Clinton through Ferrraro, have not only all been true, but obvious truths. Hillary Clinton had strong support in the black community. One important reason, that black voters are turning away from clinton and voting en masse for Barack Obama, IS THAT HE IS BLACK!!! They are excited, and should be, about a candidate who has a very good possibility of becoming the next president. I would understand better if Clinton were saying something about Obama that was flat out untrue, but what has she said?
It’s not like those lying republicans who accused a certain presidential candidate of cowardice in 2004. (They knew it was one of the candidates they just couldn’t remember which one); or the lying republicans who accused McCain of fathering a black baby and covering it up (just at the time that bush was giving his famous “i’m one of you” speeches at Bob Jones ‘you won’t find no niggers here’ university;
what a coincidence that was!
Anyhow, we have two fine candidates running. Really, the criticisms that have been leveled that they are conducting vicious attacks on one another is completely exaggerated. Both campaigns are relatively benign and one can tell that by how every move, comment, expression of either one of them is overplayed on the fox channels.

Posted by: Charles Ross at March 17, 2008 6:37 PM
Comment #248302

I am waiting to hear what Obama has to say tomorrow.
IMO, he screwed up big time!
The man is trying to show everyone how smart he is. Trying to make everyone believe he wants all of us to come together. Telling all of us about truth in politics.
Claiming he never heard, and never heard of, anything that Wright said was such a line of crap.

He should have admitted he knew all about it and said something like …
I have heard him. I absolutely hate that kind of speech. I hate it when it comes from blacks, whites, or anyone else. Hearing that is what made me decide someone has to stop this kind of talk and I want to be the person to do it.
What can he say now?
I lied. I didn’t want anyone to know I sat there and listened when I should have got up and walked out.

Posted by: Dawn at March 17, 2008 9:06 PM
Comment #248317

The way I see it, Hillary and Obama have virtually NO POLICY DIFFERENCES. Not enough to interest the public.


They both want green energy, they both want to spend more on education, they both want out of Iraq as soon as possible, they both want to “punish” big business that has been bad, they both want national health care, they both want to bail out sub prime borrowers, they both oppose racism, sexism and pollution. I think they claim to support the flag, even though Obama can’t wear it anymore. They can’t really disagree on anything of much that matters.


Obama tried to run as “Change” and “Hope”. Now we know he bought his home from a corrupt political operative, pandered to us about NAFTA, spent 20 years in a church that preached black racism, and has operatives privately smearing Hillary. So what does that leave us? They both stand for the same thing and they are both playing the same corrupt Washington games. They point at each other and scream racism and sexism.

No wonder the democratic party is split right down the middle and having a war. With no policy issues to differ on, it’s an all out battle over personality and character.

Posted by: Stephen at March 17, 2008 10:14 PM
Comment #248341

Stephen-
He bought a small strip of land after the fact, a fact which he’s candid about. The house belong to somebody else. You claim he pandered about NAFTA when in reality, the Clinton campaign were the ones that contacted the person in question, if anybody did at all.

As for Black Racism? I guess anytime folks complain about what white folks did, that’s racism. MLK was quite the bigot, in that case. Besides, exactly what are you basing your opinion on? Twenty something years, meaning well over a thousand Sundays, and you’re judging it all by a a minute or two worth of video.

That’s what I call a well-researched set of claims. You know, He recently sat down for two ninety minute sessions with the respective newspapers of the Chicago area, and when everything was said and down, he had answered every question, and left the reporters and the editorial board impressed by his candor.

A prosecutor with a reputation for tenacity and thoroughness has pretty much decided to leave him alone, even while other prominent Democrats came under a cloud of suspicion.

As for the flag pin, who the hell cares? We’ve had so much cheap patriotism over the last eight years it’s just not funny. If you want to add points for irony, one of the guys who was giving him a hard time repeatedly showed up without one himself.

The thesis of this article assumes that the problem is political correctness. But I don’t see how lowering the standards for civil discussion would help things.

Posted by: Stephen Daugherty at March 18, 2008 12:37 AM
Comment #248345

Obama’s little “property deal” is pretty dirty and they are still digging into it. Looks like the “friend” helped Obama divide the property….he was far more into this deal than Obama claims. Obama has lied to us.

http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/us_and_americas/us_elections/article3499430.ece

And as far as the black preachers politically correct racism….its WRONG.

Posted by: Stephen at March 18, 2008 1:07 AM
Comment #248346

Oh, and Stephen, Patriotism is NOT cheap. Of course the far left thinks it is, as you have demonstrated.

Posted by: Stephen at March 18, 2008 1:11 AM
Comment #248367

Here’s lowering the standard, but it’s about Obama’s standards:

http://www.nysun.com/article/69273

Posted by: dobropet at March 18, 2008 9:46 AM
Comment #248371

Stephen,

“Oh, and Stephen, Patriotism is NOT cheap. Of course the far left thinks it is, as you have demonstrated.”

If all it took to be a patriot was to wear a pin or wave a flag or put a bumper sticker on your car, you might have a point.
In the last 7 years there have been quite a few self described “patriots” in this country.

Posted by: Rocky at March 18, 2008 10:09 AM
Comment #248389

The Rasmussen Reports daily Presidential Tracking Poll for Tuesday again shows John McCain with a six-percentage point lead over both potential Democratic opponents. McCain currently leads Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton by an identical 48% to 42% margin (see recent daily results). Among White voters, McCain leads Clinton by fifteen percentage points and Obama by nineteen points…
The Illinois Senator is viewed favorably today by just 48% of voters nationwide (see recent daily results). The number with an unfavorable view of Obama has grown to 49%. Obama�s overall favorable ratings peaked at 56% on February 21 and have declined modestly since that time. While Obama tries to move beyond discussions of race, he is viewed favorably by 83% of African-Americans and by 42% among White voters.

Bye bye, Barry!!!

Posted by: Duane-o at March 18, 2008 1:59 PM
Comment #248453

Kind of makes one wonder if 20 years of wrights anti-American preachings had any influence on Obama’s decision to not wear that pin.

Posted by: kctim at March 19, 2008 10:25 AM
Comment #248463

Looks like the Rasmussen poll wasn’t a fluke:

By Steve Holland
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Democrat Barack Obama’s big national lead over Hillary Clinton has all but evaporated in the U.S. presidential race, and both Democrats trail Republican John McCain, according a Reuters/Zogby poll released on Wednesday.
The poll showed Obama had only a statistically insignificant lead of 47 percent to 44 percent over Clinton, down sharply from a 14 point edge he held over her in February when he was riding the tide of 10 straight victories.
Illinois Sen. Obama, who would be America’s first black president, has been buffeted by attacks in recent weeks from New York Sen. Clinton over his fitness to serve as commander-in-chief and by a tempest over racially charged sermons given by his Chicago preacher.
The poll showed Arizona Sen. McCain, who has clinched the Republican presidential nomination, is benefiting from the lengthy campaign battle between Obama and Clinton, who are now battling to win Pennsylvania on April 22.
McCain leads 46 percent to 40 percent in a hypothetical matchup against Obama in the November presidential election, according to the poll.
That is a sharp turnaround from the Reuters/Zogby poll from last month, which showed in a head-to-head matchup that Obama would beat McCain 47 percent to 40 percent.
“The last couple of weeks have taken a toll on Obama and in a general election match-up, on both Democrats,” said pollster John Zogby.

Posted by: Duane-o at March 19, 2008 12:11 PM
Comment #248536

Ihad lunch with three women today. All originally from the east coast, all democrats. If Barack Obama id the democratic candidate all three will vote for McCain. The ages ranged between23-57.

Posted by: lisa at March 20, 2008 12:57 AM
Comment #248565

“I guess anytime folks complain about what white folks did, that’s racism.”

Well, if you weren’t suffering from cranial rectitus(head up ass) you would be able to realize that an honest white person cannot in any way shape or form critize anything black without being flamed as a biggot or racist. It amazes me how the left ignores this obvious double standard.

Posted by: Felix1985 at March 20, 2008 9:15 AM
Comment #248850

I don’t think any of us are suffering from “skull rectums” (cranial rectitus), but perhaps you have some experience with “caput capitis sursum vestri ass”.

Though I would agree there is difficulty in discussing racial problems. Is this a double standard? Or is it the reality that applying the same standard to a historically mistreated group as that applied to a group that was given preferential treatment is in itself a form of bias? While some argue that racism is a vestige of the past, ignores that racism still exists. The question on how we allow honest discussion, cannot be addressed when the seekers of such discussions are criticizing someone (Pastor Wright) for expressing the scars of racism he has felt or seen.

Oh, I suggest we all try to “traho nostrum caput capitis ex nostrum ass.”

Posted by: Cube at March 22, 2008 3:40 AM
Comment #248923

How can one give anyone the benefit when the news networks report on their favorate politicians like Sen. Barack Obama and not simple report the facts. Then the news networks make a big deal about non-news. For example:

America now knows that the Super Delegates do not have to vote for the candidate that the majority of his states voters approved. Gov. Richardson proved that he is an un-loyal friend and the Hispanic American culture is appalled by his lack of loyalty. In my view, Gov. Richardson spoke for himself and his support is based on his career aspirations. As a Hispanic American, Hispanics see Gov. Richardson as a traitor. New Mexico voters clearly supported Sen. Hillary Clinton. Like the Senator from Illinois, Gov. Richardson did not win New Mexico presidential primary because like most Hispanic American’s, New Mexico voters voted for Sen. Clinton. If it were not for the Clinton’s, Gov. Richardson whom claimed to be a Clinton friend would have never had the success that he has enjoyed in America. At least the Senator from Illinois stood by his racist friend, no matter what anyone thought. Hispanic voters know what racism in America is first hand. Well before the Pastor Jeremiah Wright CD was released, this is why Hispanic voters will not support the Senator from Illinois because we know that he is a clever racist. Although Gov. Richardson is half Hispanic American, the Governor does not represent Hispanic Americans.

Posted by: Dr. Rene, USAF Retired, Recently at March 22, 2008 8:27 PM
Comment #248949

The hype candidate for “change” – Sen. Obama

Sen. Barack Obama says that he is the candidate of all Americans. Solely because he wants to win his presidential race he made it clear that he would not support Michigan and Florida voters from having a voice in his selection. Like the flip-flop candidate that he is, his clean non-support for a revote speaks for itself. Sen. Obama like many American’s regularly blame Sen. Hillary Clinton for her husbands mistakes. Yet no one blames Sen. Obama for his wife’s mistakes like claiming “for the first time she is proud to be an American”. America now knows that she meant, “For the first time she is proud to be an Black American” because she too went to the same racist church like her husband. Finally, how can the Senator from Illinois represent hypocrisy by being so vocal and help fire Imus for his comments that America now knows he feels the same about White Americans? Is there a double standard in America? Yes!

Posted by: Dr. Rene, USAF Retired, Recently at March 23, 2008 1:31 PM
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