. . .is getting a workout today over McCain's condemnation of the Wright ad in the North Carolina gubernatorial race. In their hysterical swoon, they took a swipe at him while conceding that he has a legitimate reason to exercise extreme caution in matters involving race:
We understand McCain’s desire to steer well clear of any racial foul-play, but there’s none in the ad and he’s foolish to be pushed into the position of speech cop for every other Republican in the country.
The problem with that appraisal is that McCain has explicitly stated that he can't be the "speech cop" they accuse him of being. Speaking in Inez, KY
, he stated, “I can’t dictate to them but I want to be the candidate of everybody,” and, “unfortunately all I can do is, in as visible way as possible, is disassociate myself from that kind of campaigning.”
NRO characterized the ad pretty accurately in calling it "a bank shot on top of a bank shot," but that while it's not a particularly effective ad, there's nothing illegitimate about it. That's a fair point, but it needs to be considered in light of the context which NRO's editors raise at the end of the piece:
From now until November, any Republican criticizing Wright will be accused of playing the race card. It’s a way to shut down discussion of Wright’s poisonous worldview, and of what it says about Obama. These rules stack the deck and stifle legitimate debate. Republicans must reject them.
Indeed, anyone who does criticize Wright from here on out is going to be accused of playing the race card. But, the fact is that this was always the case, regardless of whether McCain embraced, rejected, or completely ignored the ad. If conservatives circle their wagons around an ad that is not only ineffective, but an overreaching attempt to tie gubernatorial candidates to Jeremiah Wright, they make themselves an easy target for charges of racism. Even though the charges are false, the subject of Wright is undeniably racially charged, and if the North Carolina GOP can make a highly tenuous connection between him and their Democrat opponents, Democrats can turn it around and make a very dubious charge that the ad was racist, since it dealt with such a racially divisive subject.
By insisting on running the ad in order to display a rejection of the rules that stack the deck against Republicans, you're assuming that doing so will change the rules. There's virtually zero chance that this is going to happen. And, in the end, that rejection of the rules will only result in Republicans being accused of playing the race card while denying it. You still end up being the accused in an unfair process, whether you reject the rules or not. And, in using such a dubious connection as was used in the ad, it leaves you open to dubious charges from your opponent.
But, there's a benefit to be found in all of this. Because, at least now, there is a serious discussion taking place as to whether or not this ad plays the race card. The Democrats will make the case that, since the connection between the two gubernatorial candidates and Jeremiah Wright was virtually non-existent, it's legitimate to question the motives of the North Carolina GOP in raising him as an issue. But, what will they say when the connection between Obama and Wright, which is anything but dubious, is raised?
The Democrats will have a much more difficult time making their case when that happens.