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In Defense of Race Cards

Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama face off at a Democratic presidential debate this week in South Carolina. Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images hide caption

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Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

If you were playing, say, pai gow poker in Vegas and you found a table where the dealer showed his cards BEFORE you set your hand, that's the table where you'd wanna put your taw into action. It's always better to know what's on the table than to have to guess what's in the hole. Which is why, for the life of me, I can't understand why people are so darn consternated over Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama (and their spouses and supporters) and the various race cards they've been publicly playing of late. Sure, it's petulant and puerile, and we'd be better off if the candidates debated more pertinent issues. But we'd also be better off if the election strife in Kenya got play over Britney's latest shave-my-head-threaten-my-kids meltdown.

It is, however, the real world and so we might as well live in it.

And in the real world, even the most intelligent, high-minded people have racial hang-ups.

The high-minded tend to parse their words, so oftentimes we are left wondering about their intent.

I don't really care to wonder.

I want to know if Clinton really believes that it "took a president" to get blacks their civil rights. I want to know if Obama really thinks that taking money from Indian-American supporters makes Clinton (D-Punjab). What did Andrew Cuomo really mean when he said Obama can't "shuck and jive" his way through a press conference? Does Michelle Obama really think that blacks who don't vote for her husband constitute the slumbering masses?

And even though it was clearly meant in jest, does Obama truly believe the appropriate response to the question of whether Bill Clinton was the first black president resides in "Bill's dancing abilities"?

Not his SAT scores. Not the hours of community service he completes each month. His "dancing abilities."

Harmless comments taken out of context and whipped to a froth in a media cycle? Maybe. But if we're gonna sweat Don Imus or Kelly Tilghman, don't presidential candidates deserve as much of our hot attention?

So as off-topic as it may seem, I'd like to know about the cards they're playing sooner rather than later.

Later being after I cast a vote.