Apparently, being America’s first black president has its benefits. It means President Obama’s campaign team can cry racism (and get away with it) any time Republicans criticize his policies or his past — specifically his past association with a racist pastor. When the New York Times published a story last week about a GOP plan to run negative ads connecting Obama to Rev. Jeremiah Wright and his race-baiting sermons, the Obama race machine pounced.

President Obama and first lady Michelle walk down the 2009 inaugural parade route on Pennsylvania Avenue. (Preston Keres/THE WASHINGTON POST)

Obama campaign manager Jim Messina said “the blueprint for a hate-filled, divisive campaign of character assassination speaks for itself. It also reflects how far the party has drifted in four short years since John McCain rejected these very tactics.”

How is it hate-filled or racist to run ads revealing the truth about Obama’s 20-plus-year relationship with Wright, who often gave race-baiting sermons? If anything, running such ads would reveal at least tacit agreement on behalf of Obama with Wright’s hate-filled remarks.

The moment the story ran, the mainstream news media, who are so in the tank for Obama no matter how bad a president he is, called the GOP strategy “hard line” and  “racist.” And as predicted, Romney, billionaire Joe Ricketts and Karl Rove ran scared and repudiated the strategy. In 2008, Sen. John McCain declined to produce similar ads for fear of being called a racist by the media. Obama and his team have put Republicans on notice that they will inject race into the 2012 campaign at every turn.

So, what’s wrong with Ricketts’s proposed strategy? Obama belonged to Wright’s Chicago church, Trinity United Church of Christ. This is where Wright gave race-baiting sermons. According to the book “Game Change,” a book by political journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin about the 2008 presidential campaign, Wright railed about the treatment of blacks: “The government gives them the drugs, builds bigger prisons, passes the three-strike law, and then wants us to sing God Bless America. No, no, no! Not God bless America — Goddamn America!” In another sermon, he referred to America as the “US of KKK A.”

After 9/11, Wright preached that America brought this horrific act upon itself: “We bombed Hiroshima! We bombed Nagasaki! And we nuked far more than the thousands in New York and the Pentagon, and we never batted an eye. We have supported state terrorism against the Palestinians and black South Africans and now we are indignant because the stuff we have done overseas is now brought right back into our own front yards!”

Some Republican super PAC should have the guts not only to run ads connecting the deep relationship Obama had with Wright but also include remarks from Obama’s 2008 race speech “A More Perfect Union.” The speech, in my view, was a political gimmick Obama used to get the fawning media off his back when Rolling Stone first exposed his relationship with Wright.  But Obama refused to denounce Wright. He said, “I can no more disown him than I can disown the black community.”

Talk about a double standard. The Republicans should not have caved into Obama’s campaign of threats and intimidation. I bet all the previous 43 white presidents, if they were black, would have liked to be able to pull the race card out of their back pockets when confronted with opposition. I’m sure Bill Clinton wished he could have used the excuse of being black to blame Republicans for trying to impeach him.

There is nothing racist about running a political ad that shows Obama never denounced his relationship with a race-baiter like Wright who preached that America deserved 9/11. Since 2008, Obama and his team have always been the ones injecting race into his campaign and administration.

While campaigning in Missouri in 2008, Obama accused McCain of trying to scare voters about him even though McCain vigorously defended Obama against attacks from some McCain supporters. Obama said: “So what they’re going to try to do is make you scared of me. You know, he’s not patriotic enough. He’s got a funny name. You know, he doesn’t look like all those other presidents on those dollar bills, you know. He’s too risky.”

If Obama thinks it’s fair game to attack Romney’s record at the equity firm Bain Capital, then it’s fair game for Romney and Republicans to shine the light on Obama’s past. Being the first black president does not give Obama a free pass on being held accountable to the same standards of criticism as those who went before him. Voters deserve to hear the truth about Obama in 2012, not narratives spun of make-believe.

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