Thursday, February 21, 2008

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The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House

Age Won’t Be Obama’s Trump Card against McCain
Earl Ofari Hutchinson

Democratic presidential contender Barack Obama coyly hinted at something that has been virtually taboo during the fierce hunt for the White House in 2008. That’s likely GOP presidential candidate John McCain’s age. In a speech at the Jefferson-Jackson dinner in Virginia in early February, Obama hailed McCain for his half-century of service to the country.
This borderline ageist damn with faint praise of McCain was of course tame stuff compared to the dumb crack from B karate movie action guy Chuck Norris before the Florida primary last January that McCain was just too old to be president. Norris subsequently apologized but he still got a swift and deserved disappearance as a prominent mouthpiece for McCain’s GOP presidential rival Arkansas Governor Mike Huckabee. It probably ramped up in the number of votes McCain got from the loads of AARP seniors that retired in the state. That sweetened McCain’s victory there and rocketed his once seemingly DOA campaign forward faster.
Norris aside, age is and will be a factor in the possible showdown between McCain and Obama. Some Democrats undoubtedly bank that Obama’s boyish looks and fresh faced vigor will stand in stark contrast to the weary, and slow pace gait of McCain. But age won’t be an Obama trump card against McCain.
It just doesn’t titillate and get the tongues furiously wagging as race does with Obama and gender with Hillary Clinton. It shouldn’t. Age is no legitimate measure of McCain’s mindset, physical health, or even his possible longevity in the office. JFK, Nixon, and Clinton were all in their forties when they took office. Each had serious health problems, and each one faced serious political and personal crises during their terms, but their health didn’t lay them low. McCain released hundreds of pages of his health records before his presidential run in 2000 and last year to head off talk that he’s medically and emotionally incompetent (that pertains to his torture as a Vietnam POW) to be president. Even if he hadn’t, and even if there were health issues with him, his age still holds minefield peril for Obama.
Reagan is the best example of that. Other than sniggers, and wisecracks about his memory lapses and occasional gaffes, there was no evidence Reagan lost a single vote because anyone thought he was too old. The early signs of Alzheimer’s came much later in his term and by then the Reagan myth and legacy had been well ensured. The eyes of many in their audiences misted over the countless times McCain and the other one time GOP presidential candidates evoked Reagan’s name during their debates and on the campaign trail.
Reagan for his part did much to defuse the age issue when he turned to his Democratic opponent Walter Mondale in their presidential debate in 1984 and challenged, "I want you to know that I will not make age an issue of this campaign. I am not going to exploit, for political purposes, my opponent's youth and inexperience." The aim was not to score a quick debate point or to cut Mondale low, it was to make the point that age is not a liability but a desired quality in a head of state; that age equates with experience, level headedness, and maturity.
Then there are the voter demographics and age related issues. The vast array of programs from social security to education and housing subsidies for seniors soaks up more than a quarter of the federal budget. Legions of senior citizen advocacy groups keep a hawk like watch on funding, spending, and possible cuts in those services. The slightest hint of any attack on social security either real or manufactured politically is the political kiss of death for a candidate. Seniors have the political muscle to make sure of that. Those aged 60 and older make up almost a quarter of those who turn out on Election Day.
There is no such thing as an old age voting bloc. Seniors vote based on their needs, personal tastes, interests, and political preferences, just like other voting groups. But seniors have been far more likely to vote for Republicans than Democrats. In 2004, those over aged 60 gave Bush a wider vote margin over John Kerry than any other age group.
McCain deftly snatched a page from Reagan’s political playbook, dampened the age issue, and will try to turn the age table on Obama. He’ll pound on the point that a school boy looking, relative political newcomer on the national scene simply can’t be trusted too make the mature, sober, and vital decisions that presidents have to make especially in times of war, terrorist peril and domestic crisis. The irony is that age may just turn out to be McCain’s trump card instead of the Democrat’s even if Obama tries to help him out of his chair when they debate.

Earl Ofari Hutchinson is an author and political analyst. His forthcoming book is The Ethnic Presidency: How Race Decides the Race to the White House (Middle Passage Press, February 2008).


Anonymous said...

I'm sure Mr. Hutchinson is right about the fact that age will be a factor in the Obama vs. McCain race. However, I believe that "patriotism" will be an even more significant issue.

Obama Can Easily Win the Patriot Challenge:

In one of the strangest twists in USA presidential election history, Republicans are openly accusing Senator Barack Obama of being unpatrioctic. ostensibly because he does not always wear an American flag pin on his lapel or put his hand upon his heart when the National anthem is played.

These are empty accusations made by nationalist extremists within a desparate Republican Party The Senator can calmly refute the accusation and easily turn it against all Republicans.

Most US citizens, including those elected to public office and high ranking government officials; democrat and republican alike, choose to wear US flag lapel pins on a occational basis; they typically stand at quiet attention during the National Anthem; and, they generally reserve placing their hands on their hearts for the Pledge of Allegiance and other sworn oaths. Senator Obama is no exception.

Senator Obama tells the truth., and telling the truth is the first duty of all patriots.
Obama should turn the table and question the patriotism of Republicans. He should remind all Republicans of their recent record in history andemphatically ask the American people if they think many of the policies and actions of the Bush over the last eight years have been patriotic.

Is it patriotic to amass the largest deficit in the history of our nation and burden future generations with unmanageable debt obligations while providing unprecedented tax breaks for privaleged individual and corporations?

Is it patriotic to maintain the gulag that is Guantanomo Bay, ignoring the fundamental prinicipals of the US constitution and fundamental principals of international law?

Is it patriotic to spend US$ 9B/month on the war in Iraq while numerous essential domestic programs such as public health go underfunded or ignored altogether?

Is it patriotic to place service men and women in harms way fighting ill advised foreign wars and then ask them to go without adequente care when they return to the USA ?

Is it patriotic to erode the reputation of America abroad and stand idly by as the value of the dollar against the leading currencies of the world continues to plummet?

Frankly Speaking said...


After writing four articles on the subject of “The Bubberesphere” and basic characteristic of the person labeled “Bubber” it is time that a more detailed and clearer picture of this person is given.
In American “Bubber” has been pictured as a white male, who has his many prejudices on most all things especially that of Race sex and liberals. This classic description is given in the article entitled, “WHO IS BUBBER AND WHY IS HE IMPORTANT TO THE 2008 ELECTIONS!!” It was recorded as, “. Bubber is the white Good-old-boy Bozo, labeled by political pundits, who drives a pick-em-up-truck, with the dried blood of the road kill from Bambi on has front bumper and the body in the truck bed for the evening meal, has a yellow dog in the truck bed, a gun rack in the rear window, a white hood and robe in the seat next to him, and will not vote for anything Black, female or Liberal!! “ But Bubber is not really just that, He comes in many dresses and at many societal levels. He can be a country boy or a boy in a three-piece suite. He can be the Talking Heads fueling the race question. He can be the Media Moguls, who is providing the Bubber sympathizers with prime time TV exposure. He can be the Karl Rove dirty tricksters, who plan and circulate poison flyers and mail box stuffers or the Rush Limbaugh oxycotin heads. And yes, they are at times the female Ms. Jane’s, who try to be one of the good old boys by jumping on the Bubber ignorant bandwagon.
The serious problem with Bubber is that his state of mind hurts himself as well as all other people who do not biologically or philosophically agree with him. He has this stubborn belief that he is superior because of a biological attribute as the lack of malinine or skin color and his sex as a male. Because of this he does not work very hard to pull himself up in intellect and information. He deliberately chooses to stand on his color as providing him the genetic status of superiority; therefore, he will not bring himself up by his efforts to exceed by improving his mind, but expends great energy at pulling and pushing all others down.
This serves to limit and inhibit the progress of the whole of him and society as a whole. His efforts have no limits and include lying, greed, underhandedness, fear mongering, and even murder!
There has been no other time in history that the consideration of the Bubber must be realized. The United States of America is undergoing it’s supreme test to see if the Ideals of the Constitution which states in essence that “All people are created equal and endowed by God with certain unalienable rights which include Life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness!” If you have to fight this societal humbug you will need to be as serious as Bubber is and use all the powers at your disposal, Bubber will! Wee need to buckle down and “Git-er-done!!”
Bubber will use all his cunning and resources to defeat the selection or placing a Black or female into the Office of the President in 2009! Unless we as True Americans gear up to confront and defeat this festering cancer on the heart of or society we all shall ride this train on the trip to hell!!

Dr. J. Alva Scruggs, BS, MS, MA, EdD
Look Forward to Your Comments
Website ;

Anonymous said...

"Doctor" Scruggs? Doubt it. Too many misspelled words, phrasing too clumsy, grammar occasionaly garbled. "Oxycotin" needs another n, for instance, and when you write "malinine", I assume you refer to the skin pigment melanin, yes? As to your phrasing and grammar, a couple of short excerpts indict well enough: "He can be the Media Moguls, who is providing the Bubber sympathizers with prime time TV exposure" and "This serves to limit and inhibit the progress of the whole of him and society as a whole."

"Doctor" Scruggs? Not hardly.


Anonymous said...

And one more t'ing, "Doctor" Scruggs; you claim that "Bubber" (most say "Bubba", as in Bubba Clinton) is usually the white Good-old-boy Bozo who drives a pick-em-up-truck with the dried blood of the road kill from Bambi on h(i)s front bumper, but is there any chance that your "Bubber" is also the teenaged street slime in the ugly parts of so many American cities? Don't little black Bubbers often harrass hi-achieiving classmates, "axing", "Yo, yo, why you be tryin' to ac' white? Why you be tryin' to talk white and git good grades? What be wrong witchu, Tom?" Is that little, jealous, vicious, bastard also a "Bubber"?