Obama Bucks Fuel Controversy

Controversial newsletter creating discussion of race

It's not the color of the money, but color and money are creating a discussion on race and politics.  It revolves around a newsletter sent out by a California Women's Republican group to its 200 members.

The letter shows a picture of what resembles a dollar bill.  However, the bill is referred to as "Obama Bucks".  It's a food stamp, and the face in the middle is Sen. Barack Obama's.  He's riding a mule and surrounded by food including fried chicken, watermelon, ribs, and Kool-aid.

"To me, it was so blatantly racist.  I found it very disturbing," said SDSU political science professor Ronnee Schreiber.

The president of the Chaffey Community Republican Women Federated took responsibility for the letter, and said she plans to apologize at the group's next meeting.  She also said the image was not meant to be offensive.

"She claims that there's really no meaning about the food that's depicted on there, and so on.  But obviously there's meaning.  There's a reason that those images are on there, and connected to Barack Obama, or she wouldn't have sent it out in the first place," said Schreiber.

Acquanetta Warren is the Mayor Pro Tem for the city of Fontana, and also a member of the group that sent out the letter.  "This is not the way our party behaves.  We are trying to move California in a positive manner," said Warren.

Both Democrats and Republicans have denounced the letter.  It does raise the issue of what is and is not off-limits.  When does political satire become offensive?

Senators Barack Obama and John McCain both attended last night's traditional Al Smith dinner in New York, an event where the candidates traditionally roast each other.

During the dinner, Obama make age jokes about McCain, and joked about his own name rhyming with Osama.  Both candidates laughed at the other's nudges.

Professor Schreiber said the intent of the message matters.  She said it's different when the message comes playfully from the candidates and does not have an intended purpose to do damage to the other's reputation.

This is an election where the issues of gender, age, and race are very present because of the candidates.  Professor Schreiber says while there will be some who take it too far, overall, it's creating very valuable discussions.

She says, "So, actually, I think, in many ways, it's a wonderful thing, if the level of conversation  and discourse is civil."

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