Here's what I'm talking about. Below are three photographs of the President. One with a light background but in which he has what looks like same tie as in this ad (and his hair looks strikingly similar too, which makes me wonder if the image was lifted from that event - a campaign event in Flint, MI in 2008). The second is a screenshot of the PCCC ad. Finally, the last picture is what Obama looks like in pictures against a dark background and a wearing a dark suit. The PCCC depiction is in the center. Have a look:
As you can see neither the clothing, nor the setting, nor the dark background can be used as an excuse for blackening the President's face the way that PCCC chose to do. This is not "simply what happens" when Obama speaks in front of a dark background or in a dark suit. Now, I can't get into their heads and say for sure if PCCC was trying to be overtly racist or trying to simply put Obama in a bad light (literally) and didn't care if that made his face darker which could have racial overtones. And it doesn't matter. The act is this: they are taking the first African American president, and for theatrical effects, blackening him up some more. This kind of depiction is nothing short of racist. One would have to be blind to believe there is no Photoshop dark magic at work here, quite literally. This reminds me of Adam Green's pal Jane Hamsher and her use of blackface. This is sick. This is disgusting. This is beyond belief and beyond words. For an organization that claims to represent the progressive mantle, this should be out of bounds.
There's another interesting twist to this ad, beyond darkening Obama's face as they did. I hadn't caught onto that, until sherijr mentioned it in the comments. Not only did they put Obama against a dark background and darken his face, they also picked a clip of Republican Leader and Speaker-in-waiting John Boehner against a white background, actually making him look lighter than he usually does on TV. Here's a split screen:
And here's what sherijr had to say about it - and she said it better than I can:
I commented on how Obama was darker on a black background and Boehner was lighter on a white background. No doubt in my mind upon not just the initial viewing but several viewings- that they intentionally darkened him to set him up as that bad/failure black guy.Oh and by the way, can I just point out that the premise of the ad, that even Republicans like John Boehner would vote for a middle-class tax cuts if forced to turned out to be a false, ridiculous premise as well. You see, the House voted on extending the middle class tax cuts only (my opinion on that is that we should let all the Bush tax cuts expire if the GOP won't compromise on the millionaire's breaks), and John Boehner voted No. How is it possible that a group so sinister about President Obama's motives simply takes John Boehner at his word? How is it possible that they don't see that the GOP leadership has no qualms about holding the middle class tax cuts hostage to giveaways for millionaires? The answer: it's not possible. They're not stupid. This is intentional.
The PCCC and Adam Green have been slamming the President on damn nearly everything they can get their hands on. Green has gotten TV time to do the bashing personally. He and his organization has demonized the President, perpetuated the myth that Obama's progressive reforms and accomplishments simply did not happen, and represented the worst in Left Puritanism, putting ideological rigidity way ahead of progress. But that the PCCC refused to recognize the progressive triumphs of the last two years is one thing. Now they are moving to full blown, open, racism, and they have the galls to ask people to donate money to put this ad on the air.
If any conservative group or a Republican had run this exact same segment in their ad with this exact same depiction of President Obama, the left blogosphere right now would be abuzz in the outrage against the racist overtones of such depiction. And so should we be when a group claiming to represent the left does it. Especially then. As a movement, progressives champion race-consciousness, and so in progressive discourse, there should never be any place for this kind of despicable garbage.
The honorable thing for the PCCC to do, if it wishes to make amends, would be to take the ad down, apologize to the progressive community, the African American community and the President, and donate every penny they raised to put this horrific ad on the air to the Southern Poverty Law Center or the NAACP. I doubt they will, however. Because I doubt they're honorable. No honorable organization would put this out in their ad. Ever.