I write about the end of silly season and the beginning of racist season in my Politico column today. And it’s just beginning:
Chris Matthews of MSNBC led the charge this week with an on-set rant against Republican National Committee Chairman Reince Priebus. Matthews didn’t muster an argument so much as an accusation — a lot of them, actually.
Criticizing the gutting of welfare reform? That’s racist. GOP presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s joke about no one ever asking for his birth certificate? Racist, too. Saying the president is inspired by a European welfare-state model? Obviously racist.
Priebus looked like he’d been button-holed by a persistent drunk at a bar and didn’t know how to get away.
Thomas Edsall, the respected former Washington Post reporter now at the Columbia Journalism School, bested Matthews by declaring Romney’s ad against the Obama’s Medicare cuts racist. Timothy Noah of The New Republic seconded Edsall’s insight.
The impressively single-named commentator Touré claimed that calling the Obama campaign “angry” is racist — a close cousin to the argument that calling him “arrogant” is racist.
It’s only late August and the campaign is tied. Wait until October. Particularly if it’s equally close or if Obama is trailing. In the imaginations of the president’s devotees, an America where he is behind by 2 or 3 points will be indistinguishable from an America where blacks are set on by dogs during Civil Rights marches.