Douthat can start off seeming so right, then drive the car into the ditch, and he certainly does so this time.
Here's the seeming so right:
Racism is America’s original sin. The story of race in America has been one of the great dramas of our history. It makes sense that the presidency of Barack Obama has brought these issues rushing back to the surface.Here's exactly where the wheels turn:
Conservatives don’t like Barack Obama because he’s the most liberal president in a generation or more, not because they’re subconsciously anxious about the color of his skin.Obama ain't close to being that liberal. And, Clinton was never called "socialist." How much of this is coded talk for racist angst, I don't know. But, I don't doubt at least some of it is. Beyond that, Douthat undercuts his own thesis by noting that Cain is tolerated as a "token." Were he white, he'd be in Bachmann/Santorum poll territory and we all know that. Douthat certainly does.
I mean, riffing on Rick Perry, Cain is as intellectually shallow as Perry's childhood Paint Creek in August.
Beyond that, Douthat could use the column to point out the racial fixation of the GOP; he could note how Cain pulled his punches, then pulled them back, on criticizing Perry's "niggerhead" deer lease.
But, he doesn't.
Fact is that no more than a decade ago, a black GOP Congressman with more brains than Cain and current black GOP Congressman Alan West combined, J.C. Watts, quit the House because he could get zero traction in the Republican hierarchy.
Were Obama not president, even the Koch Bros. wouldn't be wasting their money on "Brother Herman." Nor would other rich GOP donors. (And, Alan West wouldn't have become a Florida tea party darling and gotten elected to Congress.)
The likes of Cain and West are tea partyers' collective "I do have a black friend ... " statements. If Douthat had brains, honesty and intellectual integrity, he'd write about that the next time he writes about Herman Cain. And, he'd admit Cain and West get the GOP polling support they do precisely because many GOPers are either subconsciously or consciously anxious about the color of Obama's skin.
It's funny that black conservatives like to deride affirmative action. Well, Cain, as well as Clarence Thomas, wouldn't be where he is without de jure affirmative action on jobs and now, de facto affirmative action in politics.
And, after I wrote all of the above, I find out that Touré of Time thinks the same, talking of "absolution" for the GOP.