Open Thread: I Was Black Before the Election

By now most people have probably seen this clip of Obama on Letterman, responding to Jimmy Carter’s blunt assertion that the healthcare hysteria is about race:

Multiple blogs (like What Tami Said, The Hutchinson Report, and Racewire) have eloquently argued that Obama simply can’t call racism the way Carter can. But is that why Obama is giving Carter the brush off?

What are the chances that Obama actually DISAGREES with Carter? Sure “I was black before the election” is quintessential Obama (witty! charming! irreverent!) but it’s also, well, snarky. It’s just a wee bit dismissive of what Carter had to say, and what many of us believe.

Definitely the comment is meant to emphasise Obama’s continuing faith in Americans – a cornerstone of his presidency – but to me it also has the effect of essentially making fun of Carter’s very real claim.

I understand that Obama can’t ever call anything racist; especially after that stupid Beer Summit. But why can’t he distance himself from comments that might ignite white panic, without subverting claims that racism exists around him?

Whaddya think, did Obama’s crack invalidate Carter’s racism call? Or do you think it is just a clever ruse to hide his total agreement with Carter?

And whether Obama really doesn’t see racism, or simply has to play it that way, is the Obama Administration’s directive to downplay racism hurting our attempts to prove racism does exist?