Of course, Jim, there was zero prospect that John McCain would woo many black voters by his NAACP presentation, but that’s never really the point of such ethnic pandering by Republicans. These gestures are actually aimed at suburban “swing” voters — particular college-educated women — who require reassurance that, contrary to the endless message of the liberal media, Republicans actually are not bigoted hatemongering racists.
It’s the political obverse of the concern expressed by an Obama staffer at a Pennsylvania rally: “We need more white people.”
Perception is reality in politics, and each party struggles to counter its own stereotypical image. Regardless of whether the GOP increases its share of minority voters, McCain’s speeches to La Raza and the NAACP serve a political purpose as symbolism.
The politics of symbolism annoys jaded cynics like us, but the electoral impact can be very real. Consider Obama’s upcoming overseas excursion as an example. The trip is a purely symbolic gesture intend to signal the Democrat’s foreign-policy acumen, his ability to renew American popularity abroad, and his readiness for the role of Commander-in-Chief.
But then again, Democrats had a symbolic argument for why Mike Dukakis should take that tank ride . . .