Where Will the Republicans Go?

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TPM Reader HW peels back the layers on Rove’s comment about Obama being “the guy at the country club with the beautiful date”:

I was watching Olbermann’s coverage of the Karl Rove comments the other night, and I’ve read other accounts, and I have this sense that too many in the media and the blogging left have missed Rove’s point. You touched on it “Uppity Watch,” but I’m not sure you unpacked it the way it needs to be.

The key to Rove’s exposition about Obama at the country club isn’t the silliness of placing an African-American at a country club because of the fact that so many country clubs largely or completely or just historically exclude African-Americans. That’s the way its been picked up by most bloggers and the media, and its obvious, but its not the importance of the comment, and I don’t believe Rove’s juxtaposition of the African-American Obama at a country club was just a clumsy attempt to paint Obama as a type of elitist contrary to his background.

The key to the statement is that in the image he is with “a beautiful date.” Not Michelle Obama or, in the abstract, his wife, i.e. a wife like Michelle Obama. When you think of a “beautiful date” specifically at a country club, do you picture an African-American woman? Would Rove’s target audience? Or do you picture him there, a black man, smoking a cigarette indoors at a country club, with a white woman on his arm?

When I thought of this, I got a chill. When you think of Obama’s vulnerability, I think the primaries showed that race remains a real and very serious obstacle, particularly with white Americans over 50. When you think of where we are with racism in this country, I think its a pretty safe bet that the final freak-out factor to overcome may be black men dating white women, in particular, one’s daughter. If I were a completely amoral Republican operative, I’d try to find some white women that Obama dated before Michelle and get them into the public’s stream of consciousness anyway I could. Its a tactic so vile I don’t even like speculating about it, but if you want to be ready for the worst, I think Rove just tipped his hand at where they plan to go.

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David Kurtz is Managing Editor and Washington Bureau Chief of Talking Points Memo where he oversees the news operations of TPM and its sister sites.

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