Because the United States is the only country in human history that participated in the slave trade, the subject of race is a minefield into which few Americans dare trod. With the legacy of the Civil War a mere 125 years past and the Civil Rights turmoil of the 60’s happening just two generations ago, the scars of widespread animus towards blacks specifically and other sun-dwelling folks in general aren’t scars at all. They remain festering open wounds. Racism is still everywhere in America today.
At least that’s the popular wisdom as told by the only friends the American Negro has ever had – today’s Democratic Party.
That steadfast will to always stand up for the rights and freedom of blacks has paid off handsomely for the Democrats. Ever since LBJ bought them off with generous handouts under the guise of a war on poverty, blacks have stayed bought. Democrats typically receive ~90% of black votes. Democrats, in return, help diffuse attention from painful facts about the black community whenever anyone tries to point out that rates of black two-parent households and school achievement were higher before welfare and public housing.
It’s win-win. The Democrats get a constituency to whom they can condescend that votes for them lockstep and blacks get a party that sees them for what they are whether a light-skinned, clean, articulate, without a Negro dialect unless they need to speak in a Negro dialect for legitimacy’s sake black or an authentic black. Heck, they even gerrymandered up a few congressional districts so blacks don’t have to come community organizing out in their fellow congressmens’ local offices out in the suburbs. Pretty sweet deal all around.
Meanwhile, Republicans will only embrace blacks born slovenly into wealth and privilege like JC Watts, Clarence Thomas, and Condoleezza Rice. It’s all such a sordid affair.
Somewhere out there, an aspiring politician is carefully watching the backlash (or lack thereof) from Harry Reid’s recently reported comments about Obama. The comments weren’t particularly provocative or insightful. It’s not like electability isn’t an issue when it comes to the Presidency, and the fact that Obama looks and acts “normal” was a big part of why he was elected. More “normal” than McCain in the sense that McCain came off as a doddering old coot and Obama was the cool black friend you could bring to impress your friends at a party.
Personally, I’d rather have Harry Reid and his dunderhumping incompetence in the Senate until November than keep playing a silly game of racial gotcha that conservatives have no chance of winning. There are two different sets of rules for Democrats and Republicans when it comes to race. We know that much. The question is what can be done so we’re playing on a level field.
I’d like to see Michael Steele just say, “Hmmm, Harry Reid must have thought Blazing Saddles was a documentary. Did he say anything about ‘The President is near?'” and be done with it. I’m more strategist than tactician, though.
Knowing the rules are different, the best bet for now is to avoid any extemporaneous comments on matters of race. In the event a gaffe occurs, here’s a handy guide to in just how much hot water you’ll find your hacky sack depending on party affiliation and status.
Situation: Sitting President
Democrat: Beating your black chief of staff with a Secret Service agent’s pistol – shouting the whole time like Michael Richards at a heckler – because he forgot to bring the ceremonial pen to the stimulus bill signing.
Path to absolution: Apology on 60 Minutes, followed by fourteen minutes of talking points blaming the frustration of battling against Republican obstructionism.
Republican: Asks black reporter if he bought his sweater at Cliff Huxtable’s garage sale.
Path to absolution: Nationally televised personal apology in the Oval Office and establishment of a new cabinet level racial sensitivity secretary, followed by hearings before a Democrat-controlled Congress for the balance of their term in office.
Democrat: Former Klansman and filibusterer of 1964 Civil Rights bill, utters the word “nigger” in a televised interview.
Path to absolution: Public apology, followed by fawning exultation of the “longest serving Congress critter ever” and canonization upon death (date TBD)
Republican: Joined a country club in 1998 that prohibited blacks from being members until 1989.
Path to absolution: Immediately resign club membership and denounce the club’s racist past. Insert earmark to fund inner-city sports facilities in your state, agree to vote for establishment of cabinet level racial sensitivity secretary and department funding. Decline to run for re-election based on poll numbers.
Situation: House of Representatives
Democrat: Once stated support for abortion by claiming there would be a lot more black babies born and collecting welfare in his state if abortion was illegal.
Path to absolution: Insist the quote was fabricated, then when verified argue the quote is taken out of context. Affirm your record of supporting abortion rights long before the alleged quote was made and the many times you partnered with black lawmakers to advance progressive ideals. Win close re-election and remain in office for life.
Republican: Comment on local sports radio that Donovan McNabb apparently wasn’t able to learn anything about cracking the Dallas defense despite playing them two weeks in a row.
Path to absolution: Explain the comment was a testament to Dallas’ defensive game plan and not directed at McNabb’s intelligence. Foolishly appear on talk shows and get suckered into an argument on race and intelligence with the likes of Al Sharpton. Tread water for two weeks and resign in shame.
Situation: VP or Staff or Cabinet officer
Democrat: Tells a racial joke at a fundraiser.
Path to absolution: If reported at all, a page A28 paragraph relating the President’s displeasure and a two week leave.
Republican: Reveals they prefer vanilla ice cream to chocolate in an interview.
Path to absolution: Unless you have a doctor’s note saying you’re allergic to chocolate, there are boxes by the copier. Clean out your desk.
It’s like WOPR said, the only winning move is not to play. It’s time to give up the game. Reid will get his comeuppance in November. The fact is has nothing to do with this racial charade will make it all the sweeter. Until then we need him in Washington to help usher in the wave by continuing to repulse the electorate.
I’m talking to you, Massachusetts.