Hours before the premiere of HBO's "Game Change," the Obama campaign released a web ad Saturday focused on former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin, who is portrayed in that premium cable film - fairly, according to her detractors, unfairly per her supporters.
"I don't really want to spend any time on Sarah Palin, but you need to see what she said the other night on Sean Hannity's show," Obama campaign manager Jim Messina wrote in the email to supporters. "She accused President Obama of discrimination, saying he was taking the country back 'to days before the Civil War, when unfortunately too many Americans mistakenly believed that not all men were created equal.' And she wasn't kidding."
Messina portrayed Palin's comments from Fox News Channel last week as typical of "the nature of the attacks we'll be up against from now until November. They're false and divisive, and it won't even matter whether they make sense or not, because they're designed to serve one purpose: beating President Obama. What we know is we can't afford to let attacks like this go without a response - chip in $3 or more now to show that each time someone like Sarah Palin launches an attack, it only makes us stronger."
The ad shows graphics, in McCain/Palin campaign font style, reading: "MORE THAN FOUR YEARS LATER. SARAH PALIN AND THE FAR RIGHT SAY PRESIDENT OBAMA WILL BRING BACK RACIAL DISCRIMINATION … AGAINST WHITE PEOPLE."
Palin is then shown saying the following: "Barack Obama has never been seen in the conventional, traditional way of we who would describe a man of valor … And his profession as a community organizer, what went into his thinking was this philosophy of radicalism … He is bringing us back, Sean, you can hearken back to days before the Civil War … What Barack Obama seems to want to do is to go back to those days when we were in different classes based on income, based on color of skin, why are we allowing our country to move backwards?"
Back to the graphics: "THESE ATTACKS ARE WRONG AND DANGEROUS. IF YOU'RE TIRED OF IT, DO SOMETHING. DONATE TO THE TWO TERM FUND."
The quotes from Palin come from one interview, but from a few subjects. The "man of valor" quote came from a part of Palin's conversation when she was impugning the president since a Super-PAC supporting him has accepted a $1 million contribution from comedian Bill Maher (also starring on HBO) who has made crude comments about her.
"I don't know how anyone can sit in the audience of a commentator like Bill Maher and chuckle and laugh and think that that's entertaining," Palin said. "I think it's disgusting and it's dirty money that he has now provided Barack Obama's campaign, and I don't know how Barack Obama can sleep at night if he really thinks about Sasha and Malia and the treatment of some women today, how he can accept that dirty money. And granted Barack Obama has never been, I think, seen in the conventional, traditional way of we who would describe a man of valor, so it shouldn't surprise us that Barack Obama would accept that dirty money and try to get re-elected with it. But I think it does not bode well for our president's character to not speak out against that dirty money."
The "philosophy of radicalism quote" comes from a new theme of conservative media, as introduced by the late Andrew Breitbart, that conservative citizen journalists need to vet President Obama since he wasn't fully vetted in 2008 by the mainstream media. This was part of the reasoning behind the "unearthing" by conservative reporters of a video of then-Harvard Law Review president Obama in 1990 praising and embracing law professor Derrick Bell at a rally in favor of greater faculty diversity at Harvard Law School. (The video had appeared in a Frontline documentary about Obama and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., that ran in October 2008.)
"It is a tragedy that the media did not do its job in vetting Barack Obama in 2008," Palin said. "Here, this is belated vetting of Barack Obama, but it must be done. People must be aware of his radical past, his radical associations … He has chosen these people because what went into his thinking through those college years, through years probably before his college years and his profession as a community organizer, what went into his thinking was this philosophy of radicalism, based on the people whom he chose to be around. He has chosen now to help lead this country more of these radicals."
The "Civil War' quote comes from the following quote of Palin's:
"He is bringing us back to days, you can hearken back to days before the Civil War, when unfortunately too many Americans mistakenly believed that not all men were created equal. And it was the Civil War that began the codification of the truth that here in America, yes we are equal, and we all have equal opportunities, not based on the color of your skin, you have equal opportunity to work hard and to succeed and to embrace God-given opportunities to develop resources and work extremely hard and as I say, to succeed. Now, it has taken all these years for many Americans to understand the gravity of that mistake that took place before the Civil War and why the Civil War had to really start changing America. What Barack Obama seems to want to do is go back to before those days when we were in different classes based on income, based on color of skin. Why are we allowing our country to move backwards instead of moving forward with that understanding that as our charters of liberty spell out for us, we are all created equally?"
Last night, Palin posted on Facebook about her appearance in this web ad and "the dubious honor of being Barack Obama's 'enemy of the week'."
"The far Left continues to believe American voters are not smart enough to grasp the diversionary tactics it employs to distract us from the issues our President just doesn't want to talk about - issues that affect us all every day and must be addressed," she wrote. "Exhibit A in these diversionary tactics is an absurd new attack ad President Obama has released taking my comments out of context."
She mainly lists the issues she says the president "sure seems fearful of discussing" which include "the economy, energy prices, and all the other problems people need addressed. And intended or not, now that his ad opens up the discussion of Barack Obama's radical past associations and the radical philosophy that shaped his ideas about his promised 'fundamental transformation' of our country, I welcome the media to join ordinary Americans in finally vetting Barack Obama. The media failed to do so in 2008 to the detriment of us all. Maybe this time around they can do their job."
Palin doesn't provide the context or an explanation for her remarks, though she links to a Breitbart.com article about the ad in which conservative writer Ben Shapiro writes "In other words, she's opposing Obama's attempt to divide us along racial and class lines," which he relates to Derrick Bell's theory about race.
A different take can be read at Digby's Hullabaloo .
"It's always hard to figure out exactly what she was trying to say, but it looks to me as if she was saying that Barack Obama believes that white people are inferior. Either that or she's saying that he believes black people are inferior (like they did before the civil war) and I think that's a long shot, don't you? This is probably one Sarah and the Breitbart gang should probably leave alone. It's not going to work in her favor."