Extracts from Sarah Palin’s new book America by Heart: Reflections on Faith, Family and Flag have already started leaking online and its her comments on race that are attracting most attention.
The second reason the charge of racism is leveled at patriotic Americans so often is that the people making the charge actually believe it. They think America — at least America as it currently exists — is a fundamentally unjust and unequal country. Barack Obama seems to believe this, too. Certainly his wife expressed this view when she said during the 2008 campaign that she had never felt proud of her country until her husband started winning elections. In retrospect, I guess this shouldn’t surprise us, since both of them spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright’s church listening to his rants against America and white people.
Her decision to revive the Wright issue, nearly two years after Barack Obama responded with his famous Philadelphia speech on race, is a risky one. It’s notable that in the 2008 campaign, John McCain forbade anyone on his team from mentioning Wright because he feared he would be called a racist (a stance Palin lobbied against).
If, as seems increasingly likely, Palin runs for president in 2012, she will need to build bridges with the moderates and centrists who determine US elections. Her decision to attack the First Lady and to politicise the subject of race will not aid her cause.