If the New York Times was constantly searching for archival footage to prove that Mitt Romney doesn't like black people, or that he is "whipping up race hatred," the conservative media would accuse them of frivolously ignoring the actual issues that this election ought to turn on. It would say that they were exploiting the racial anxieties of Americans to tarnish the character of a man whose long record of public policy-making shows no evidence of racial animosity or radicalism.Before you reflexively reject Friedersdorf's opinion — which I share — know that he recently wrote "Why I Refuse to Vote for Barack Obama."
The whole liberal conceit that Obama is a good, enlightened man, while his opponent is a malign, hard-hearted cretin, depends on constructing a reality where the lives of non-Americans -- along with the lives of some American Muslims and whistleblowers -- just aren't valued. Alternatively, the less savory parts of Obama's tenure can just be repeatedly disappeared from the narrative of his first term, as so many left-leaning journalists, uncomfortable confronting the depths of the man's transgressions, have done over and over again.He's positioning himself to the left of Obama, but the point is, he's not an Obamaphile, unless he's performing the ministrations of Obamaphilia in a rather subtle fashion.
ADDED: I didn't mean to suggest that I share every detail of Friedersdorf's opinion, only opposition to the exploitation of the old video of him pandering to an audience of black churchgoers. I don't, in fact, agree that Obama has a "long record of public policy-making" that's entirely devoid of "evidence of racial animosity or radicalism." There's some racial animosity and radicalism here and there. He's too far to the left for my taste on many issues (and Romney is too far to the right). He hasn't repressed every shred of racial critique that's ever crossed his mind. That's not a big deal to me. What does bother me is that he hasn't fulfilled the dream that many white people projected onto him — with his fully willing encouragement — that he would take us to a higher ground, racially. But we, the voters, need to take responsibility for our own vulnerability to the idealistic rhetoric that flows so freely from political candidates.