Well, Maureen Dowd's Wednesday column on anonymous accusations of sexual harassment against Herman Cain, 'Cain Not Able ,' certainly shows she has no fear of causing racial offense, at least when writing about conservative political figures: 'Even Barack Obama couldn't be lucky enough to waltz past two wacky black conservatives, first Alan Keyes and then Cain.'
We have the starchy guy - tall, handsome, intelligent and rich, with a baronial estate - who's hard to warm up to. And we have the spontaneous guy, who's charming and easy to warm up to - until it turns out that he has an unsavory pattern with young women and a suspect relationship with facts.
It's the Republican primary. Or 'Pride and Prejudice.' Take your pick.
It is a truth universally acknowledged that it's not the scandal that kills you; it's the cover-up. Herman Cain has added a corollary: It's not the cover-up that kills you; it's the cascade of malarkey that spills out when you try to cover up the cover-up.
Sure, the dalliance with the grandfather, gospel singer, motivational speaker and self-made millionaire in the black cowboy hat was fun while it lasted, just as it was with Ross Perot, Donald Trump, Sarah Palin and The-Rent-Is-Too-Damn-High dude.
Even Barack Obama couldn't be lucky enough to waltz past two wacky black conservatives, first Alan Keyes and then Cain.
The Herminator was just a raffish passing fancy, like Mr. Wickham, a place for Republicans to store their affections while they try to overcome their aversion to Mitt Romney's Mr. Darcy.
Dowd then took a surprising turn, giving credit to...Ann Coulter! (Though Dowd has made Coulter's point about feminist hypocrisy before.)
Ann Coulter has a point when she says that feminists rewrote their own rules on sexual harassment to support Bill Clinton. It is never right for any boss, especially the president of the United States, to mess with an intern, even if she's the aggressor.
But Coulter falters when she charges that, like Clarence Thomas, Cain is the victim of a high-tech lynching, that 'if you are a conservative black, they will believe the most horrible sexualized fantasies of these white women feminists.'
This isn't an incendiary story about race. It is the most hackneyed story in Washington - another powerful man who crossed the line and then, when caught, tried to blame the women.