Just One Additional Poll Question

A Rasmussen poll from yesterday finds that 53% of voters (including half of Democrats and 2/3 majority of Republicans) think Barack Obama’s “dollar bill” comment was racist, while 38% disagree. (In the same poll, only 22% of voters think that the McCain commercial with Obama and Brittney Spears/Paris Hilton was racist, while 63% say is was not.) Watch Obama making his “dollar bill” comment and judge for yourself, but keep the following in mind:

  1. This is something Obama has talked about consistently for the last year. He has been saying that “they” (any of his opponents) will be trying to make voters afraid of him — “and did I mention he’s black?” — at a fundraiser in Florida in mid-June. Not a word from the McCain campaign then. So timing (not even a full week after Obama arrived back from week on the world stage, on which he seemed to excel) is something to keep in mind here. Maybe something of a, “Quick, change the subject” type move.
  2. Obama never said that the McCain campaign (nor the candidate himself) was racist. He never used the word “racist” or the word “McCain” in the “dollar bill” comment.
  3. Excelscior1, blogging at DailyKos, says that perhaps Obama’s comment was in direct response to a McCain web ad where Obama’s face is placed on the $100 bill, as the voiceover asks, “what will he change next?” It is possible that he was indirectly referring to this web-ad (I believe the ad first ran in late June, but have not verified that yet).

Most importantly, in my opinion, the Rasmussen poll should have included one more question that directly addresses the substance — which I’ve been saying is sorely lacking from the discussion on all of this — of Obama’s “dollar bill” comment: “Is it racist that every one of the 43 presidents of the United States has been a white male?” I think the results of that question would add some context to Rasmussen’s poll numbers. Now, it is an incontrovertible fact that there have been 43 white male U.S. presidents (i.e. all of them). This is also obvious, and I think Obama’s “dollar bill” comment basically alluded to this fact. So I’m going to have to assume, based on common sense, that the Rasmussen poll results from above and from my additional question would correlate with one another. Regardless, the results, I think, would say something about Americans’ understanding of what is “racist” and what is not, as well as well as how we generally understand racism.

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3 Comments

Filed under Politics, Race

3 responses to “Just One Additional Poll Question

  1. mayasmind

    Brilliant second question! I second the need for context in these debates.

    Not only was Obama being honest with his comment (fact: we’ve never had a black president), but also, true to his prediction, the McCain camp used that fact (or at least the fact that he dared to draw attention to it) to scare voters as soon as they sensed both a need and an opening.
    It may be a sad truth that we have never had presidents who are not white and male, but it is true. Since when did pointing out or drawing attention to racism become racist?

  2. Thirdeyevision

    I concur. Are we shocked that a race for “change” is masked by the century(plus) go around with race (ism)? Though humorous (and expected) to me that our predominantely white (and quite frightening) empire has resorted to “scaring” voters with the evil threat of black skin, I find it interesting that McCain ( I use this pronoun to name an entire people) is not trying to hide this adgenda to seduce our uneducated kin with tired black against white tactics…

  3. notesandbeats

    Thanks for your comments, mind and vision. This is indeed a problem, a hump, an obstacle we, as a people still need to get over… and as soon as possible, for the sake of us all. How? I don’t know. Honest conversation? I wish we could, but due to hegemony and lack of knowledge about the past (toss in a unhealthy dose of fear and and a smidgeon of guilt) and you get, well… good luck. But I still have hope.

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