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A red herring, and a weak one at that

October 08, 2008
Apparently it's OK to invoke a little humor toward Republican presidential nominee John McCain, as my friend and colleague Lee Cable did in August, when, in a column, he repeatedly referred to the Arizona senator as Juke Box John, but it's not OK to do the same when referring to The One … er … Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.

Last week, I had a gentleman whom I won't name because he asked me not to, tell me that my editorial, "The One may be anything but," was racist. At first, he just said he disagreed with it — and that I can live with, because editorials aren't about changing minds, per se, but about causing people to think. Another gentleman said he thought it was disrespectful to Obama; I disagree, but that's his opinion, so that's fine.

However, when I asked the other gentleman what he disagreed with, saying he was more than welcome to write a response in the form of a letter to the editor, he said my editorial had a racist tone to it. Needless to say, I was shocked, especially considering that I wrote the following in an editorial entitled "Campaign should be about issues, not whispers," just a few months earlier after Obama lost the Indiana primary:

"Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama didn't fare very well in Southern Indiana last week. He lost Crawford, Harrison and Floyd counties by 11,390 votes, 80 percent of the margin by which he lost the entire state.

Perhaps Obama just didn't connect with the traditionally more blue-collar, middle-of-the-road Democrats in this area. Perhaps it was the support his opponent, New York Sen. Hillary Clinton, received from pretty much all of the region's rank-and-file Democratic leaders.

However, the whispers leading up to the primary would suggest otherwise, that some — certainly not saying all or even a significant minority — didn't vote for Obama because of his skin color. That's a shame, especially in the year 2008, when our country supposedly has come so far on race issues.

If every Democrat who didn't vote for Obama in Harrison, Crawford and Floyd counties didn't vote for him because of his political views — and some of his proposals certainly raise eyebrows — that's OK. But if at least one voted against him for other, non-political reasons, then hearts need to be re-examined.

We know of people who openly root for the black players on Indiana University's basketball team but openly admitted they wouldn't vote for Obama because he is black. So, we tell black kids we'll root for them on the court for the glory of Old IU, but we won't support them later in life if they aspire to sit in the Oval Office?

That's just wrong."

I stand by that. To not vote for a candidate based on skin color, gender or age is absolutely ridiculous. I'm obviously not voting for Obama, but not because of his race, rather because of his ill-fated policy proposals.

I'm a conservative, and if former Oklahoma Congressman J.C. Watts, former Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele or Secretary of State Condoleeza Rice, all conservative African-Americans, were running, I would vote for them.

To the gentleman who said my column was racist, you owe me an apology. Just because I used a bit of humor to get my point across, something my liberal counterpart Lee Cable has done with President Bush and McCain often, and you disagree with the column doesn't make it racist. To suggest otherwise is a red herring, and a weak one at that.

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