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Politics & Society

Here We Go ...

John McCain says Barack Obama is playing the race card

Read the New York Times story to get caught up:

Here's how it started: Obama said "they" are trying to scare the public. The McCain folks are crying foul, saying Obama crossed the line.

A lot to chew on here.

What exactly pushed the McCain campaign's buttons? The fact that Obama seemed to tie the sleazier campaign tactics we've seen — people making fun of his name, people spreading the lie that he's a Muslim — to McCain and his campaign when they've taken pains to distance themselves from such? The fact that Obama himself pointed out that he is, ahem, a black guy?

What EXACTLY crosses the line? Who gets to define when a line is crossed?

I am reminded of a story I once reported for "Nightline" about the difference in sentencing between two defendants, one white, one black, one day apart in the same courtroom in Cambridge, Mass. The black defendant had NO prior record, the white guy had SIX prior drug-related convictions; they were both accused of selling a small amount of drugs.

... So why did the black guy get a much stiffer sentence? The judge wanted to know, so he demanded an explanation from the prosecutor. We wanted to know, too.

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The prosecutor, after much prodding, did agree to do an interview, but she accused the judge (and us) of "calling her a racist." How so?

Is it racist to notice race? To mention race? ... And who gets to decide?

Let us know, but we bet this won't be the last time we talk about this.

Happy Friday, everyone.

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