Ramesh – I don’t have too much to add to your fine response, but I will chime in with one point. My low regard for Tomasky’s verdict on my book can be found here. Admittedly, I am biased on that score. But I do think it’s worth noting that Tomasky’s perspective on what counts as GOP racism is even less clear-eyed than you suggest.
You write: “Surely he can see that celebrating entrepreneurship (even excessively) isn’t the same thing as insulting black Americans. Tanenhaus doesn’t see that difference. He reduces every expression of American conservatism to racism while denying that’s what he’s doing.”
I would not be so quick to assume Tomasky can see such distinctions. For instance, when Mitt Romney spoke to the NAACP last summer, here’s how Tomasky responded.
Until yesterday, I thought of Mitt Romney as a spineless, disingenuous, and supercilious but more or less decently intentioned person who at least wasn’t the race-mongering pyromaniac that some other Republican candidates of my lifetime have been. Then he gave his speech to the NAACP, and now I think of him as a spineless, disingenuous, supercilious, race-mongering pyromaniac who is very poorly intentioned indeed, and woe to us if this man sets foot in the White House as anything but a tourist.
Read the whole thing. His entire case that Romney was a “race-mongering pyromaniac” rested — solely — on the fact that Romney dared to use the term “Obamacare” in front of a black audience. Let the record show that this is a term president Obama himself has embraced. But even if he didn’t, the idea that the term Obamacare is outrageously racist is even more deluded and absurd than Tanenhaus’s claim that John C. Calhoun was the “ur-theorist” of the conservative movement (was “Hillarycare” outrageously sexist?). It’s not exactly shocking, to me at least, that Tomasky would come running to Tanenhaus’s defense. The only surprise is how restrained his defense is.