The Corner

Roosting Chickens

Don Imus has now got himself in hot water again with a seemingly biased remark about Adam Jones. When told of his latest arrest, Imus asked, “What color is he?” Then told that he is “African-American,” Imus scoffed: “There you go. Now we know.”

This time there will be no calls for resignation or furor. Why? Obama in his treatment of the far worse racial slurs of Rev. Wright already lowered the bar when defending Wright last spring by not calling for him to apologize or separate from Trinity, and thereby lost any high ground to voice concern about others.

I predicted this would happen in March right after his supposed “landmark” but in truth self-serving speech on race:

Obama has sanctified the doctrines of moral equivalence (the private racial slight is balanced by the televised public hatred; everyone has a pastor in some ways like Wright, etc.) and contextualization (you must understand Wright’s context and background; the good that he does; the protocols of the black church, etc.). The result is a lowering of the bar for the next racial outburst, since the perpetrator will immediately resort to the Obama defenses. And since we now know that Obama heard some of these “controversial” Wright sermons and did not object, we can see that his earlier, once just condemnation of someone like Imus — like many of his initial defenses of Wright—may now be inoperative:

“I understand MSNBC has suspended Mr. Imus. But I would also say that there’s nobody on my staff who would still be working for me if they made a comment like that about anybody of any ethnic group. And I would hope that NBC ends up having that same attitude. … He didn’t just cross the line. He fed into some of the worst stereotypes that my two young daughters are having to deal with today in America. The notions that as young African-American women — who I hope will be athletes — that that somehow makes them less beautiful or less important. It was a degrading comment. It’s one that I’m not interested in supporting.” (October 2007)

The new sophistic Obama, however, would recount to us all the charity work and good that Imus had once done and still does, that we don’t understand the joshing of the shock-jock radio genre that winks and nods at controversy in theatrical ways, that Imus was a legend and pioneer among talk show hosts, that Obama’s own black relatives have on occasions expressed prejudicial statements about whites similar to what Imus does, that we all have our favorite talk shows, whose hosts occasionally cross the line, and that he can’t quite remember whether he’d ever been on the Imus show, or whether he ever had heard Imus say anything that was insensitive — and therefore he could not and would not disown a Don Imus.

This is the real message of the Obama racial transcendence candidacy.

So I doubt this time Obama will weigh in on Imus’s latest. And in turn, Imus has just sort of sloughed off his comment with the proverbial “misunderstood” — as in the ridiculous — “I meant he [Jones] was being picked on because he’s black.’’

Imus knows well that in the post-”THE SPEECH” era, no one wants to pursue him, since he can just hint at Obama’s contextualization defense of Wright. Expect little outcry or even somehow blame on McCain for going on the show — but very little about Obama’s past condemnation of Imus and defense of the similarly racist Wright .

Still, once one sacrifices principle to expediency nemesis is unforgiving.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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