During a washingtonpost.com web chat today, a questioner noted that Sen. Barack Obama (D-IL) has launched a new presidential campaign television ad, claiming it is “playing up his white family.” “Until now he’s been ‘African American;’ now suddenly he’s a white Midwesterner?” wrote the questioner.
He or she then asked Post reporter Jonathan Weisman if Obama would be “criticized” for allegedly changing his image. Weisman responded by saying Obama’s “great irony” is that he “is much more white than black“:
Alexandria, Va.: Obama’s new ad (which plays a lot in Alexandria) shows pictures of his mother and grandparents, playing up his white family. Until now he’s been “African American”; now suddenly he’s a white Midwesterner? During the primary Hillary was criticized for changing her image too many times. Won’t Obama be criticized for doing the same thing?
Jonathan Weisman: I haven’t heard that criticism, but it is striking. Not a single picture of his father. Now, that really is consistent with his upbringing. He really did not become immersed in black American culture until he left college and went to Chicago. The great irony is that he is much more white than black, beyond skin color.
It’s unfortunate that as a Washington Post reporter, Weisman’s rhetoric is echoing that of right-wing blowhards Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh.
Beck once described Obama as “colorless” and said that “as a white guy…you don’t notice that he is black. So he might as well be white.” In 2007, Limbaugh said Obama should “renounce” his race and “become white.” Nearly a year later, he claimed that “Obama has disowned his white half. … [H]e’s decided he’s got to go all in on the black side.”
Later in the chat, another questioner told Weisman, “I would caution against making statements such as ‘he’s more white than black,’” adding, “The problem is that this is a discussion the media (and perhaps society) is not familiar with, and consequently generalizes in a rather simplistic fashion.” Seeming to recognize his error, Weisman responded, “I expected this response, and I defer to you.”