Friday, September 18, 2009

Thank You, David Brooks

Once again, The New York Times' David Brooks has knocked one out of the park.

To say that criticism of the President is chiefly motivated by racism, or that statements about "taking the country back" must be a codeword for racist attitudes, is not only widely judgemental, but it ignores recent history (nearly-identical or worse partisan vitriol against #43 and #42) as well as the American history we all learned about in school (rural or small-town populists against big city elites, which goes back at least to Jefferson and Hamilton, with periodic spikes throughout our history).

There's one other thing I'd add to what Mr. Brooks wrote in his Op-Ed today: Accusations about racism driving policy critiques, or wild use of "codeword" interpretations based on anything remotely critical, could have a major chilling effect on many Americans' future support for candidates of color in American politics.

Race is a subject that already makes many Americans tremendously uncomfortable. Constantly putting people on the defensive for every opinion they have of anything, or anyone, different from themselves is ultimately just going to alienate the Vast Middle whose support is critical to any widespread political movement.

I think President Obama is more aware of this than are any of the tone-deaf race-baiters on either side of the aisle, and that's why he's wisely not touching this with a ten-foot pole right now.

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