Female Voiceover: He was the world's biggest celebrity, but his star is fading. So they lashed out at Sarah Palin: Dismissed her as "good looking." That backfired, so they said she was doing "what she was told." Then, desperately, called Sarah Palin a liar. How disrespectful.The title of this ad is "Disrespectul," but I really think they should have just gone all-out and called it "Uppity."
And how Governor Sarah Palin proves them wrong every day.
McCain: I'm John McCain and I approve this message.
Mind you, I don't disagree that Biden having called attention to Palin's looks was inappropriate. But Obama didn't say it. "They" didn't say it. Biden did. So you want to call Biden disrespectful—fine.
As to the rest of it, the source material is bollocks. Typically, when an article is cited as a source in a campaign ad, you give the name of the article, as well as the source and date. Here, it's just:
"what she was told" — Politico, 9/4/08There are hundreds of new items on the Politico every day. So right off the bat, one suspects they're pulling quotes out of context—which is why they are making it difficult to locate the context. The source for "call[ing] Sarah Palin a liar"—btw, a manipulation of their onscreen source quote, which is, merely, "lying"—is "Obama Response Ad from YouTube, 9/8/08," without the actual name of the video, the easiest way to find something on YouTube.
So, who said she was doing what she was told (which, as an aside, is not inherently sexist)—Biden or Obama? Or some campaign spokesperson or surrogate? Who said she was lying? Were they even saying she was lying? Shrug.
[Update: In comments, Shaker Shere notes that FactCheck.org has already torn his ad a new asshole. It's essentially a complete contrivance, as I suspected; nothing more than stitched-together lies designed with the specific purpose of casting Obama as uppity.]
What we know for certain is that Biden said something disrespectful about Sarah Palin (and only that because it was itself a news story). But this is the money shot, as the voiceover condescends, as if scolding an ill-behaved kindergartner, "How disrespectful."
That, Shakers, is a dog whistle of mythic proportions. Buried in that image is a shout-out to the lizard brains and dark hearts of every white racist who has called a black man "boy," talked to our about black people knowing "their place," clucked their tongues at a person of color doing something they don't think a person of color should be doing (like running for president), or used any one of a number of euphemisms, including "disrespectful," to convey that a person of color was getting just a little too big for her or his britches, generally for having the temerity to assert their equality.
And lest you think that I'm somehow suggesting it's not possible to talk about a black man being disrespectful without inevitably invoking a dog whistle, let me direct you to CE's guest post, where she manages to do precisely that.
(Holding Obama accountable for his own words, rather than his running mate's, is a good start.)
The fact that it's eminently possible to talk about people without raising the specter of racist tropes merely underscores that this was no accident.
For those keeping score at home, the McCain campaign has, in its official adverts, obliquely called Obama uppity, a wild animal, a pedophile, and a sexist (on dubious grounds) this week alone.
[Obama Racism/Muslim/Unpatriotic/Scary Black Dude Watch: Parts One, Two, Three, Four, Five, Six, Seven, Eight, Nine, Ten, Eleven, Twelve, Thirteen, Fourteen, Fifteen, Sixteen, Seventeen, Eighteen, Nineteen, Twenty, Twenty-One, Twenty-Two, Twenty-Three, Twenty-Four, Twenty-Five, Twenty-Six, Twenty-Seven, Twenty-Eight, Twenty-Nine, Thirty, Thirty-One, Thirty-Two, Thirty-Three, Thirty-Four, Thirty-Five, Thirty-Six, Thirty-Seven, Thirty-Eight, Thirty-Nine, Forty, Forty-One, Forty-Two, Forty-Three, Forty-Four, Forty-Five, Forty-Six, Forty-Seven, Forty-Eight, Forty-Nine, Fifty, Fifty-One, Fifty-Two, Fifty-Three, Fifty-Four, Fifty-Five, Fifty-Six, Fifty-Seven, Fifty-Eight, Fifty-Nine, Sixty, Sixty-One, Sixty-Two, Sixty-Three, Sixty-Four, Sixty-Five, Sixty-Six, Sixty-Seven, Sixty-Eight, Sixty-Nine, Seventy, Seventy-One, Seventy-Two, Seventy-Three, Seventy-Four, Seventy-Five, Seventy-Six, Seventy-Seven, Seventy-Eight, Seventy-Nine, Eighty, Eighty-One.]