Ted Kennedy believes Hillary Clinton's recent mailer distorts and misrepresents Barack Obama's vision for a new health care plan. In addition, Kennedy believes that Clinton is trying to engage the voting public with fear-mongering tactics. Whether Ted Kennedy's assertions are true or not, one thing is for certain: race and gender politics are definitely at play in Hillary Clinton's new ad.
In the mailer, seven Americans are lined up in a row, facing the reader with solemn faces. No smiles are present, despite the fact that they all look like they should have something to smile about, for the individuals pictured — four women and three men — appear, judging solely by their looks, to be middle-class: well-dressed, well-fed, and put together.
Without looking at the text, I began to wonder: why on earth are they looking so serious? Certainly, someone, if only one in the group, had something to smile about!
As my eyes scanned to the top of the mailer, I found the source of their stoic faces: the threat (or, at least, the perceived looming threat) of Barack Obama's health care plan. At the top, bold, white text read: "Barack Obama, Which of These People Don't Deserve Health Care?"
A loaded question, indeed! Without thinking, however, I found myself looking across the diverse group of faces. Who would he choose?
Of the seven people pictured, there was a 57% chance "Barack's pick" would be a woman and a 71% chance that it would be someone who was of European descent. The odds for men stood at 43% and minorities only 29%.
Social mind tricks went into action, as the quick read calculated some "fuzzy math" on my particular position in Barack Obama's game of chance. I felt reassured, though, without self-serving intention, that I was going to be okay. According to Clinton's ad, my chances were good: I am a man and a black man, to boot! There was no need, then, for me to worry about "Barack's pick," let alone potential gaps in his health care plan.
But who was going to be left out in the cold? (No one deserves such a fate.) A quick glance at the flier answered my question: white people and white women, in particular.
Really? How come?
Then, common sense hit me: "Why would Obama choose?" Neither race or gender are factored into his health care plan. And the health care plan, as presented by Obama, did not discriminate. It would be for all people, no matter their race or gender.
Then, I began to look at the "diversity" of the group shown in the ad. No black men. No Asian women. No visibly Latino Americans of any gender. I began to wonder why other groups were left out of the discussion and why Obama must be forced to choose.
Without knowing full well the specifics of Barack Obama's health care plan, the context in which the flier discusses its real prospects are quite alarming — putting both racial and gender politics into play, instead of the issue at hand.
The real question should have been: "Barack Obama, Which of These People Are Currently Receiving Health Care?" That answer would have startled me more than the Clinton's misrepresentation of the facts, because the sad reality is probably this: less than half.
Shame, Hillary Clinton, for allowing such a Willie Horton-like ad! If Barack Obama's health care plan is to be attacked, let it be on its merits, without insinuating that he values (or undervalues) one or more subgroups of the American populace.
If my memory serves me correctly, though, the only people who will be left uninsured, under Obama's plan will be those who make a personal decision to opt out. Clinton's charge, then, blatantly distorts the facts, since those who will be left without insurance will have brought that fate upon themselves. Obama's plan does not require individuals to sign up for health insurance, if they so desire. Thus, the choice belongs to the individual, not Barack Obama.
In the forthcoming months, I will be examining Obama's health care plan with a fine-toothed comb. That being said, you should too!