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The Judicial Confirmation Network (JCN), a conservative independent group, is running new anti-Obama TV ads in battleground states that feature the Reverend Jeremiah Wright. “Obama chose as his pastor a man who has blamed America for the 9/11 attacks,” says the narrator, as an image of Wright (with the words “God Damn America”) flash on the screen.
The JCN is headed by Gary Marx, who worked for Mitt Romney’s campaign this year and who served as coalitions organizer for the Bush-Cheney campaign four years ago. As an “independent” group, the JCN doesn’t have to reveal its donors.
I wouldn’t be surprised to see Reverend Wright soon appear in more ads from the GOP and McCain’s surrogates, especially if Obama’s momentum in the polls isn’t soon reversed.
Over the summer I spoke with Gary Pearce, a Democratic consultant in North Carolina, where Obama and McCain are running neck and neck. “It’s so deep in the Republican DNA in North Carolina,” he said when I asked him if he though that race would become an issue during the campaign. “Race is the deepest question in Southern politics, it’s inescapable and it’s worked repeatedly against black and white politicians.”
Pearce worked for former Governor Jim Hunt, who lost a senate race in 1984 to incumbent Jessie Helms, in good part due to the issue of a national holiday for Martin Luther King. Six years later, the moderate African-American mayor of Charlotte, Harvey Gantt, lost to Helms in a campaign also marked by not-so-subtle racial tactics. (Charlie Black, one of McCain’s senior advisors, worked for Helms during both of those campaigns.)
“If the Republicans get worried, we’ll see more of it,” Pearce said about the potential use of race in the current campaign.
They’re worried now. Stay tuned.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
On a Friday evening in January, a thousand people at the annual California Native Plant Society conference in San Jose settled down to a banquet and a keynote speech delivered by an environmental historian named Jared Farmer. His chosen topic was the eucalyptus tree and its role in California’s ecology and history. The address did not go well. Eucalyptus is not a native plant but a Victorian import from Australia. In the eyes of those gathered at the San Jose DoubleTree, it qualified as “invasive,” “exotic,” “alien” — all dirty words to this crowd, who were therefore convinced that the tree was dangerously combustible, unfriendly to birds, and excessively greedy in competing for water with honest native species.
In his speech, Farmer dutifully highlighted these ugly attributes, but also quoted a few more positive remarks made by others over the years. This was a reckless move. A reference to the tree as “indigenously Californian” elicited an abusive roar, as did an observation that without the aromatic import, the state would be like a “home without its mother.” Thereafter, the mild-mannered speaker was continually interrupted by boos, groans, and exasperated gasps. Only when he mentioned the longhorn beetle, a species imported (illegally) from Australia during the 1990s with the specific aim of killing the eucalyptus, did he earn a resounding cheer.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A tourism company in Australia announced a service that will allow users to take the “world’s biggest selfies,” and a Texas man accidentally killed himself while trying to pose for a selfie with a handgun.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”