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The story of how Leslie Stahl's critical piece on Ronald Reagan was actually well-received because of the images alone is well-known. "Nobody heard what you said," the Republicans told her. "You guys in Televisionland haven't figured it out, have you? When the pictures are powerful and emotional, they override if not completely drown out the sound."

Watch the latest McCain ad, featuring Barack Obama being tied to Franklin Raines, former CEO of Fannie Mae. "The first black man to head a Fortune 500 company," as Wikipedia puts it.

But here's the thing: watch it with the sound off.

Imagine seeing it in a bar or an airport. What do you see?

First a picture of Obama. Then another picture of Obama, and now a photo of Raines comes in on the same screen. Both men look concerned.

Now here's another picture of Raines alone, looking very worried, as headlines about fraud and various dollar amounts scroll by.

Now here's the important bit: why is Raines suddenly smiling? A real evil-looking grin there.

A photo of a house, bathed in red...

Now a photo of an older woman, looking a little disheveled and extremely worried.

And finally a photo of Obama, smiling for the first time in the ad.

What story is your brain meant to come up with?

The commercial makes no sense on its face. Via Howard Kurtz, Raines has nothing to do with the campaign or Obama.

An Obama spokesman called the ad's contention "a flat-out lie," saying Raines has "never advised Senator Obama about anything, ever."

There's a bunch of text in headlines, but it's not the kind of fill-up-the-screen stuff you can easily read, and it moves too fast to actually make sense of it. The point is the giant images, and the primal reaction they are meant to inspire.

In a Time post called McCain plays the race card, Karen Tumulty concludes the same thing.

Let me stipulate: Obama's Fannie Mae connections are completely fair game. But this ad doesn't even mention a far more significant tie--that of Jim Johnson, the former Fannie Mae chairman who had to resign as head of Obama's vice presidential search team after it was revealed he got a sweetheart deal on a mortgage from Countrywide Financial. Instead, it relies on a fleeting and tenuous reference in a Washington Post Style section story to suggest that Obama's principal economic adviser is former Fannie Mae Chairman Frank Raines. Why? One reason might be that Johnson is white; Raines is black.

Poster tarheel74 from MyDD has a similar take: McCain's ad injects race again: The black guys are ripping us off!"

And Kos user BulldogsRule last night wrote a diary on the same subject (but without video and a little less analysis).

Originally posted to sxp151 on Fri Sep 19, 2008 at 09:12 AM PDT.

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Comment Preferences

  •  saw this (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    TerribleTom, collardgreens

    John McCain is such a low life that even the WSJ editorial board is starting to say so!

    I'm not sure this ad will be very effective -- racists aren't going to vote Obama anyway.

  •  I dont think is effective either (0+ / 0-)

    It may have racist undertones, but i dont think the message will do much except reinforce the base.  It wont take on too many indies and undecided IMO

    Culture Wars: Alive and Well

    by ehalperin on Fri Sep 19, 2008 at 09:17:59 AM PDT

  •  Rachel and Keith are on it. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sxp151, HylasBrook
  •  Dog whistle. (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    sxp151, skillet

    It's a Willie Horton redux ..

    John McLiar would rather lose his integrity than lose this election.

    by shpilk on Fri Sep 19, 2008 at 09:24:56 AM PDT

    •  At least it's a RICH Willie Horton... (0+ / 0-)

      I didn't know Raines was black until I saw the ad, and I follow the news closely.

      Kudos to the MSM for not mentioning Raines' race when they discussed the damage he did to Fannie Mae

      Republicans love America - they just hate half the people living in it. - Jon Stewart

      by HylasBrook on Fri Sep 19, 2008 at 09:41:35 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  McCain? Race Card? (0+ / 0-)

    Is the pope Catholic?  This is a dog bites man story and not worth our time.  McCain/Palin desperately want this election to be about race.

    Smart people know there's so much more at stake.  

  •  I'm not surprised at all (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    McCain seems to have picked up this line of attack from hate-spewing, neo-nazi sympathizer Sean Hannity.  One wonders if John "what number was I in the Keating Five again?" McCain really wants to go down the road of guilt by association.

  •  It was just a matter of time. (0+ / 0-)

    Even in 2008, racism sells in national elections.

    I think Obama should leverage this into a powerful get-out-the-vote campaign for blacks and non-racists throughout the country. McCain was going to win Alabama and Mississippi anyway; let's see what people think about this sort of filth in Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Pennsylvania, Nevada, Colorado, Ohio.

    It's time to stand up and make the people who promote racism -- including, apparently, the Republican Party -- stand down.

  •  Question on Housing Crisis (0+ / 0-)

    I know almost nothing about this issue admittedly.  But I had a few articles e-mailed to me noting Bush's attempts at a new regulatory agency: 2003 fannie freddie labaton&st=cse

    That article has been making its way around the conservative blogosphere.  Then, two, McCain co-sponsored legislation in '05 on the issue as well:

    Can anyone provide more info on the subject?  Seems odd couldn't get the issue through Congress with two clear majorities.  But like I said, this issue isn't one I know much, if any, about.

  •  Two Pinocchio noses for ad by the Wash Post (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    The Washington Post already fact checked this ad.  Slime. Slime. Slime.  More of the same.  I am waiting for the Charles Keating RTC ads about McCain with put him in the middle of a financial crisis and he didn't learn his lesson to avoid this mess.

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