B&W Obama

The answer is “Yes.”

The question is, when people talk about Barack Obama’s “electability,” or ask “can he get elected?”, is the word “electability” a white code word for race? (You know: Kind of the way many white people talk about “good neighborhoods” and “good school systems.”)

So asks Massimo Calabresi on, reporting on a “town hall” meeting in Durham NC. During the meeting, Obama speaks to

Diana Allen, 39, an employee of LED light manufacturer, CREE, who identified herself as an undecided Democratic voter, said the most important thing for her was victory. So, she asked Obama, what can you say about how you would win the election in November?

Obama gives his standard responses, but Calabresi digs in.

In his town hall response, Obama delicately avoided directly addressing what some say is the coded message behind “electability”: that it’s actually just a stand-in for race, and for whether the country is ready to elect a black man President. That, after all, is the stake that Rev. Wright’s outbursts have put on the table, and in a way it’s the question that’s been there from the start of Obama’s campaign. Obama’s aides likewise won’t directly address the question: I asked both his communications director Robert Gibbs and his chief strategist David Axelrod if “electability” was code for race. They both ducked the question.

Campaign allies are less restrained when they talk on background. One key Indiana player said the Clinton camp, by questioning Obama’s electability, had been “blowing the dog-whistle on race” in Lake County, which helps make up northwestern Indiana’s 20%-25% of likely Democratic primary voters. He and other Indiana aides say Clinton surrogate attacks on minority-focused get-out-the-vote efforts in the region were racially based. Others said Clinton’s choice of venues, especially “white flight” towns in southern Lake County, were chosen to send racial cues, and to target fertile ground for the coded message of “electability.”

Clinton campaign aides vociferously deny the accusation. And indeed, some of these suspicions may be calculated spin by the Obama camp.

But, yes, Jim, yes.

That is, to your question, Mr. Calabresi, yes. Affirmative. Without a doubt. Absolutely. Unquestionably. Where have you been? You betcha. Right-O! Sho ’nuff. Indisputably. You better believe it. Of course. Undeniably. You know it!



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