Watching last night’s “Other Race Video” commotion unfold on Twitter was an instructive experience. After Matt Drudge first teased its race-y contents, if you will, it was touted with descriptors like “bombshell” and “game-changer.” A Daily Callerite promised it would “rock the world.” Yet when it became clear that this not-so-secret video would end in a whimper instead of a bang, its boosters shifted gears. Suddenly it was no longer about Obama. It was about the media. It was, as Tucker Carlson explained, about how Obama-symps “suck up to power.” It was about the MSM’s tendentious “news judgment.”
That’s not right, either.
It might seem obvious to say so, but this was about race.
It was about the Carlson-Drudge-Breitbart-Kurtz-D’Souza right’s certitude that Obama’s secretly seething black radicalism would be known to all if only the media would stop covering it up. This obsession bears all the hallmarks now of psychopathology. You need the right antennae — or maybe the right tooth fillings — to pick up on its signals. When Obama “talks black,” he is not merely pandering to a friendly audience — as, say, a Texan Republican might when speaking to fellow Southerners. He is “race-hustling.” When Obama mentions the legacy of slavery or segregation or urban poverty, he’s not taking conventionally liberal positions held by the Kennedys, LBJ, and the Clintons; he’s nursing a deeply felt personal grievance. When Obama talks about equality or income distribution, he is not simply a New Deal/Great Society Democrat; he’s a glorified inner-city rioter looting by other means.
This is hardly an original point — Ramesh Ponnuru and others have made it many times — but apparently it needs repeating: there is scarcely a position held by Obama, or an action taken by his administration, that cannot be explained by the fact that he’s a liberal Democrat. This dark and dank corner of the right can’t resist adding a superfluous layer of racialism to what should be an uncomplicated picture.
The lesson of last night’s embarrassing flop will no doubt be lost on them. They can’t stop.