Race tightens in Obama vs. Clinton primary, while race still looms as a possible factor

From Day 1 Barack Obama has said that his bid for the presidency is fueled by his faith in the fairness of the American people. That faith again will be tested Tuesday in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary where Hillary Clinton surrogates, including Gov. Ed Rendell, say publicly that they expect a segment of the voters to oppose Obama solely because of his race.

Combine that fact with Clinton’s ‘Obama-can’t-win’ chant to superdelegates, the Democrats have a level of racial divisiveness that might prove to be fatal in November. And unfortunately for the Democrats, some segments of major media are focusing more on creating and promoting tabloid-like titillations than they are on providing their viewers/listeners/readers with useful insight and sensible data to determine who best would lead our nation-in-crisis.

(1) ABC Debate Moderators — Network ‘newsmen’ Charles Gibson and George Stephanapoulos spent about half of the last 90-minute Obama vs. Clinton debate dwelling on controversial figures linked to Obama. The New York Times and other major media outlets proclaimed that Obama lost the debate, not because of his answers, but because he showed irritation with early questions. Times columnist David Brooks, under a headline which read, ‘Obama losing ground among Democrats,’ repeatedly castigated Obama for numerous shortcomings, suggesting that he is “thinking more about campaigning than governing.” Last time I checked, Obama, after all, is in the campaigning phase, still trying to get to the governing phase. What’s more important for him or Clinton than thinking about campaigning? Evidently, conservative Brooks expects Obama not to get his suit dirty regardless of how much mud Clinton tosses in his face. For the last few months Clinton has thought of nothing other than her toxic, kitchen-sink campaign, but Brooks gives her a pass.

(2) Cable News Talking Heads — What does Joe Scarborough (Morning Joe) and Chris Matthews (Hardball) have in common besides an affiliation with the same cable news company (MSNBC)? Like Brooks, they both repeatedly contend that Obama must do more to appeal to blue collar whites, most of whom likely are among that white segment of Pennsylvanians Gov. Rendell says will vote against Obama solely because of his racial heritage. Yet Scarborough and Matthews seem determined to persuade their viewers, subtly of course, that Obama is to blame for his high negatives among those voters, not racism.

(3) Too Much Money — When Mitt Romney used his personal fortune to outspend his opponents earlier in the Republican primary, the media didn’t have much to say. Romney bowed out despite his deep pockets. Now that Obama, using funds raised by soliciting hundreds of thousands of dollars from small donors, has closed the gap on Clinton in Pennsylvania, having deep pockets has become somewhat of a negative. The Clintons were expected to whine, but it’s been a bit surprising how receptive the media have been to their complaints. The Clintons might be right when suggesting that Obama wouldn’t have gained much ground without his advertising blitz. Still, as a public service, wouldn’t it be appropriate for the media – in a comprehensive way – to examine Obama’s fundraising efforts, analyze his political savvy and fiscal expertise? Isn’t his fundraising achievement in a presidential race record-breaking? Why not do more with that? Not titillating enough, I suppose.

Political campaigns are breeding grounds for controversy and cable news shows live for the botched line, the video-taped misstep and the nasty retorts. They’ll run ‘em again and again and again. Helps with ratings, of course. So if Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, we’ll continue to see the Rev. Jerimiah Wright clip several thousand more times before November. And we’ll no doubt continue to hear Scarborough and Matthews wonder aloud why Obama can’t attract a certain segment of white voters. They’ll do this no matter how often Obama urges that block of voters to judge him not by the color of his skin, but… you know the rest.

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