Is House Speaker John Boehner an anti-Obama racist? Editorial Page editor Andrew Rosenthal all but accuses him in his Tuesday blog from Des Moines, 'Nobody Likes to Talk About It, but It's There .' The web headline is blunter: 'Republican Attacks Have Racist Undertones.'
Actually, Rosenthal is all too happy to talk about racist Republicans if it helps Democrats politically, as he did on November 1, in one of his first blog posts : '...it was the Republicans who perfected the art of injecting racial fears into modern-day politics (remember Willie Horton in 1988?) and have conducted an unrelenting personal attack on President Obama that sometimes has not-so-subtle racial overtones.'
From Rosenthal's Tuesday post:
Talking about race in American politics is uncomfortable and awkward. But it has to be said: There has been a racist undertone to many of the Republican attacks leveled against President Obama for the last three years, and in this dawning presidential campaign.
You can detect this undertone in the level of disrespect for this president that would be unthinkable were he not an African-American. Some earlier examples include: Rep. Joe Wilson shouting 'you lie' at one of Mr. Obama's first appearances before Congress, and House Speaker John Boehner rejecting Mr. Obama's request to speak to a joint session of Congress – the first such denial in the history of our republic.
As for decorum during presidential appearances before Congress, Rosenthal has apparently forgotten the rumbles and hisses, hoots and hollerings of 'No! No!' thrown at President Bush by Democrats (documented in his own newspaper ) at Bush's February 2005 State of the Union address when he spoke on Social Security reform.
In addition, Speaker Boehner did not 'reject' Obama's request to address Congress, but instead suggested that the president delay the speech for one day, to avoid it being held on the same night as a Republican presidential debate. (And that's what happened.) Rosenthal's suggestion that Boehner's move was somehow racist is too pathetic to even merit a response.
Rosenthal's reasoning is equally ludicrous when he accuses Republican candidates Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney of racism.
Sometimes the racism is more oblique. Newt Gingrich was prattling on the other day about giving 'poor children' in 'housing projects' jobs cleaning toilets in public schools to teach them there is an alternative to becoming a pimp or a drug dealer. These children, he said, have no work ethic. If there's anyone out there who doesn't get that poor kids in housing projects is code for minorities, he or she hasn't been paying attention to American politics for the last 50 years. Mr. Gingrich is also fond of calling Mr. Obama 'the greatest food stamp President in American history.'
Is Mr. Romney playing the same chords when he talks about how Mr. Obama wants to create an 'entitlement society'? The president has said nothing of the sort, and the accusation seems of a piece with the old Republican saw that blacks collect the greatest share of welfare dollars.