How exactly are Barack Obama’s problems with Jeremiah Wright a swift boating? I like Obama about as much as your average Republican-leaning academic blogger with libertarian leanings, but it’s hard to see that there’s much that’s unfair about attacking a political candidate who willingly associates himself on a weekly basis with a pastor who frequently crosses the line that separates legitimate critiques of American race relations and delusional paranoia.
Does the video play on the fears that some whites have about angry black men? Sure. Mostly, though, it seeks to undermine Obama’s portrait of himself as mainstream. It’s more than a little unfair but that’s the nature of these mashups. It’s no different than the various ads of one candidate morphing into an unpopular politician that we’ve seen over the years. And it’s frankly much tamer than the infamous 1964 ad that implied Barry Goldwater would get us annihilated in a nuclear war or the 2000 NAACP ad featuring the daughter of James Byrd stating that “when Governor George W. Bush refused to support hate-crime legislation, it was like my father was killed all over again.” Goodness, I’m not sure it’s even as insidious as the “3 a.m.” ad that the Clinton campaign ran to such good effect last month.
All that said, if the McCain campaign wants to shit-can some guy on their payroll who shared that video on Twitter, that’s their prerogative; any campaign that can’t keep their employees on-message is doomed to controversy—ask Amanda Marcotte, or for that matter John “Two Americas But Stuck In Third Place” Edwards.