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Kentucky Congressman Calls Barack Obama “That Boy”

Part of the story of Barack Obama's meteoric rise from the Illinois state senate four years ago to the precipice of the White House today is that there has been perhaps no one in recent American political history as fortunate … Read More

By / April 14, 2008

Part of the story of Barack Obama's meteoric rise from the Illinois state senate four years ago to the precipice of the White House today is that there has been perhaps no one in recent American political history as fortunate in his draw of opponents. (Bill Clinton was nearly, but not quite as lucky.)

When the campaign for the Democratic nomination for the 2004 senate election began, Obama trailed Blair Hull, a deep-pocketed financier, by a wide margin. Then the Chicago Tribune opened up Hull's divorce files and it turned out that Hull's ex-wife had accused him of assault. Hull was finished. As the campaign tilted toward the general election, Obama faced off against the seemingly formidable Republican Jack Ryan, a partner at Goldman Sachs who made several hundred million dollars on his firm's IPO and was prepared to invest it in his run for the senate. Then the Chicago Tribune opened up Ryan's divorce files and discovered that Ryan's ex-wife, Seven of Nine, had accused him of taking her to sex clubs and trying to impress her into swinging and exhibitionism. So much for Ryan. Desperate, the Illinois GOP recruited Alan Keyes. Obama won the largest victory in Illinois senatorial election history.

A similar pattern has played out this year, as Hillary Clinton, who should have won the Democratic nomination in a walkover, ran the worst primary campaign since primaries began to count, and in particular heeded Mark Penn's brilliant "insult 40 states" strategy. So much for Clinton.

At every crucial juncture in his career when Obama appears to be on the brink of disaster, one of his opponents manages to overplay a winning hand recklessly, or else disaster befalls Obama's opponent instead. Case in point: After Obama's clumsy effort to connect with rural Pennsylvanians blew up in his face, Republican Kentucky Congressman Geoffrey Davis decided to make it clear that "that boy's finger does not need to be on the button."

Now there is, to be sure, a relatively innocent interpretation of Davis's remark, to the effect that Davis was merely talking in a jocular slang. But on any of the non-innocent interpretations, Davis was making use of a genteel way of calling Obama a nigger. Would anyone care to bet on what dominates political headlines for the next few news cycles? After all, a man who voluntarily goes by "Geoff Davis" isn't really begging for interpretive charity on racial issues.

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