Racial Politics, 2012-Style
NY Times, Editorial
For many Republicans, the belief has never died that President Obama is a secret revolutionary nurtured on black liberationist theology. Right-wing Web sites are littered with this nonsense, and the Fox News host Sean Hannity regularly tries to tie Mr. Obama to the clearly racist views of his former pastor, the Rev. Jeremiah Wright Jr. Even Mitt Romney suggested in February, on Mr. Hannity’s radio show, that Mr. Obama listened too much to Mr. Wright.
In 2008, Senator John McCain refused to make this divisive tactic part of his campaign against Mr. Obama. But, in a more coarsened political atmosphere, the rise of unlimited money has made it possible for a wealthy person to broadcast any attack while keeping a distance from it. As Jeff Zeleny and Jim Rutenberg reported in The Times on Thursday, Joe Ricketts, the billionaire founder of TD Ameritrade, worked with Republican strategists to prepare a $10 million ad campaign suggesting the president’s governing philosophy came directly from Mr. Wright.
After the plan was disclosed, Mr. Ricketts said he was not interested in socially divisive tactics and the ads would never run. (Mr. Romney also repudiated the proposed attack.) But Mr. Ricketts is quoted in the proposal as saying that if the nation had seen an ad featuring Mr. Wright, “they’d never have elected Barack Obama.” The proposal suggests Mr. Ricketts gave his preliminary approval.