Monday, March 03, 2008

"The Sheriff Is A ..."

Just when you thought you'd heard every stupid thing that could be said about the Clinton vs. Obama race (including the many dopey things said by yours truly), now we've got the "N-I-G Scandal."

Some bloggers have noted that, in Mrs. Clinton's "3 AM" TV ad, the kid sleeping in his bed is wearing jammies that read "Good Night." Coincidentally (?), the three letters that are most visible on the screen are N, I and G. (see screen capture above)

In other words, an attack on a black man.

I think this is absolute nonsense, but then, I thought the whole "RATS" controversy during the 2000 campaign was a joke, too. So maybe I'm just not paranoid enough.

Now, I have no doubt that if it would help her win Ohio and Texas, Mrs. Clinton would call Sen. Obama every word in the rap song. But I don't believe there's anything at all subliminal about this TV ad. It makes an obvious, indisputable point: Sen. Obama hasn't had any live experiences that might prepare him to handle an international crisis.

But this moment does effectively foreshadow what the rest of the Obama candidacy and (horrors!) presidency would look like. Every word of every non-black American will be screened for prejudices, real or imaginary. Every criticism of any bad Obama policy will simply be dismissed as bigotry.

As of this writing, the Obama campaign has not said a word about this ad or endosed the criticism. But the "chilling effect" of this media paranoia exists nontheless.

A rule of thumb when it comes to the Bill of Rights: When people start editing the kids' pajamas, you know the Constitution is in danger.