New York Times editorial page editor Andrew Rosenthal, better known as James Taranto's punching bag at Opinion Journal, has a new blog at nytimes.com, 'The Loyal Opposition.' On Tuesday Rosenthal posted the provocatively titled 'Herman Cain and the 'Liberal Media ,'' where he broadcasts his alarm at how 'quickly the right wing jumps on an issue almost in unison,' blames Republicans for injecting racial fears into modern-day politics with Willie Horton, even claiming the phrase "community organizer" is racist when applied to Obama.
I've always been impressed, well alarmed really, at how quickly the right wing jumps on an issue almost in unison. This week, it was the news that Herman Cain, one of the contenders for the Republican presidential nomination, was sued on claims of sexual harassment when he was running the National Restaurant Association.
After raising the idea of a vast right-wing conspiracy, Rosenthal then mocks the very idea of a left-wing one, while giving away his own ideological listening preferences (apparently someone did listen to Air America):
I barely had time to read the articles, and try to figure out whether there was any solid information about what exactly happened, when folks like Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh had long made up their minds. They were already denouncing what they imagined to be an organized attack by the 'liberal media.' I didn't see any signs of a left-wing conspiracy, vast or otherwise, but it's true I missed the morning conference call with Barbra Streisand (apologies to Rachel Maddow, who used to tell that joke on her Air American radio program).
Ms. Coulter and Mr. Limbaugh, and others on the right, also claimed the hubbub about the lawsuit was racist. Mr. Limbaugh said the left was smearing Mr. Cain with 'the ugliest racial stereotypes' and Ms. Coulter said liberals 'are terrified of strong, conservative, black men.'
That's ludicrous, unless you think the simple reporting of a legal action against an African-American man is an act of racism. This line is especially hard to take since 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.
Of course, during the 1988 presidential primaries, it was Democratic candidate Al Gore who brought up Massachusetts' wacky furlough program up in a debate with Massachusetts Gov. Michael Dukakis during the Democratic primaries. After Dukakis won the primary, the Bush campaign focused on the case of Willie Horton, a convicted murderer who raped and killed while out on a weekend furlough. The official Bush ad didn't even show a picture of Horton (an ad by an independent group did). But never mind all that; for the sophisticated liberal media, Willie Horton will always equal Republican racism.
Rosenthal even tried to turn the race tables on Cain, accusing the candidate himself of anti-black racial stereotyping, based on his odd online campaign ad 'He Carried Yellow Flowers.' Apparently the phrase 'community organizer' is now racist, at least when used by a Republican.
The cowboy then goes on to make the usual crack about Mr. Obama's experience as a 'community organizer.' Somehow I doubt he means the community of 300 million Americans. That sort of thing is not a dog whistle attack. It's audible to anyone. Oh, and, there was Mr. Cain's suggestion in a Times Magazine interview last June that Mr. Obama is not a 'real black man.'
- Clay Waters is Editor of the MRC's TimesWatch  site.