Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Friday, July 11, 2008

McCain's appeal to Latinos

Senator McCain put out a new video today highlighting the accomplishments and patriotism and faith (damn, how's that for a grand slam?) of Latino immigrants.

Curiously, toward the end, it cuts away to a shot of Tom Tancredo. Marc Ambinder thinks that this is an example of dog whistle politics signaling to Latino voters that he is willing to challenge his party's orthodoxy and extreme bigotry. I'd agree.

It's a pretty effective ad that ties together Vietnam vets with Iraq and Afghanistan vets who are not even green card holders. The final quote:

"So let's, from time to time, remember that these are God's children. They must come into our country legally but they have enriched our culture and our nation as every generation of immigrants before them."

Quite artfully said and an appeal to Christian values as well as the politics of the Church. With more and more churches now joining the sanctuary movement, and with bishops playing key roles in the immigrant rights movement, a clever way to appeal to two constituencies. The words and imagery stir even this cold jaded heart. Is this a sign that with Steve Schmidt ascendant that the McCain ship is somewhat righting itself, or just that Ken Mehlman's brand of outreach to traditional Democratic bases (Mehlman was notable for apologizing in 2005 to the NAACP convention for use of racial politics) is on the upswing. I would give more credence to the latter, and this thought also lends additional weight to Ambinder's hypothesis that it's Melhman's proteges, not Rove's who are now controlling the McCain campaign.

Rove was not known for the "you attract more flies with honey than vinegar" approach - if anything he delighted, as Mark Penn still does, in dissecting and chopping off pieces and fingers and toes of the American people - segmenting into infinity. An ad like this that deliberately calls out to the Latino community is something that Mehlman would have done, if nothing else to minimize the percentage of Latinos who vote Democratic.

And it's a smart move - it's too late to go after African American voters but not too late to wedge Latinos, although that window of opportunity is fast closing as immigrant communities come to find out more about Obama and welcome him increasingly.

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