Posted by: Rick | Thursday, September 30, 2010

Has Racism Become Republican Cool?

Bob Herbert noted in his Monday column that Carl Paladino, the Republican candidate for governor of New York State, seems to be getting a free ride from reporters on his obscenely racist emails.  Herbert attributes this to the media’s delicate sensibilities, but I think there’s something more going on.

Republicans have used racism to win elections since the days of Lyndon Johnson, but they’ve never liked to admit it.  Northern moderate Republicans haven’t wanted to think of themselves as belonging to an organization full of David Dukes.  Good government, the party of Lincoln, blah, blah, blah.  What happens in South Carolina stays in South Carolina.

Well, times have changed.  Moderate Republicans have gone the way of the dodo bird, and the teabaggers who’ve replaced them don’t feel the need to pussyfoot around anymore.  They’re not too thrilled that a mysterious African (who may or may not be a Muslim terrorist sympathizer) has taken up residence in the White House — and they’re not shy about expressing their displeasure.

This isn’t your father’s Republican Party, ladies and gentlemen.  Back in the Stone Age, an overgrown skinhead like Carl Paladino would be relegated to some fringe group.  Today, he’s within shouting distance of the GOP mainstream.  More precisely, Paladino is the Tea Party version of what John McCain used to be a dozen years ago — a Republican maverick.  But he’s a maverick with a racist streak a mile wide.  No big deal, though.  It’s just part of his angry populist charm.  Teabaggers love him — wink wink, nudge nudge.

As for the media, they’re in a tough spot.  For years they’ve been bludgeoned by conservatives into being “fair and balanced”.  Do they really want to start calling out extremist Republicans for holding views that are still — despite the best efforts of Carl Paladino — frowned upon in polite society? 

“See no evil, hear no evil, speak no evil.  We don’t want to get Roger Ailes mad at us.”  — The Pundits

UPDATE: Jacob Javits (Google him here) must be spinning in his grave like a liberal dreidel.  New York Republicans are fine with Crazy Racist Carl:

“A lot of people are just getting introduced to Paladino postprimary, and clearly the more they become familiar with this part of his political life, the more negative they feel toward him,” Marist Poll director Lee Miringoff said.

Democrats and crucial suburban voters particularly disliked the Buffalo blow-hard’s rhetoric.  Republicans overwhelmingly supported it, while independents and upstaters are split, the poll found.  [Emphasis added]

“People don’t find this style to be attractive,” Miringoff said.

Well . . . maybe some people.  Non-Republicans.

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