Sunday, July 20, 2008

Intellectual Poverty of Frank Rich II

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By Larry Johnson

No other pundit has done more to inject the poison of race baiting and play the race card than the inimitable Frank Rich of the New York Times. I already acknowledged Rich’s dubious accomplishment as the NY Times’ chief Hillary hater in Part I (and his role as an enabler of the Iraq war). And Rich continues to excel in driving the debate about the Democratic presidential contest into the gutter. Even embarrassingly predictable Obama cheerleaders such as Eugene Robinson of the Washington Post and Jonathan Alter of Newsweek cannot begin to compete with Rich’s vicious tone and contempt for facts. Rich is obsessed with promoting Obama’s candidacy and tearing down his designated hate figure, Hillary Clinton. But unlike this blog, which uses the bright lights of fact to expose the weakness of Obama, Rich just makes things up.

This week, as usual, our intrepid pundit launches a new smear of Hillary, accusing her of playing the race card. But he really crosses a line with this attack. Rich accuses Senator Clinton of “racial gamesmanship” and compares her to none other than former Senator George Allen. He predicts that Hillary will suffer a fate similar to that of Allen in 2006:

In that year’s signature race, a popular Senate incumbent, George Allen, was defeated by a war opponent in the former Confederate bastion of Virginia after being caught race-baiting in a video posted on the Web.

We have now left the land of logic and reason. George Allen was caught on tape calling a dark skinned kid “macaca.” Macaca, according to the Urban Dictionary is a:

Common French racist slur. Meaning and use is similar to English ‘nigger,’ and is used to described non-European (Arab and Black) North Africans. It was in particularly prevelant use during French occupation of Northern Africa. The term has been showing up with increasing frequency as a racial slur on racist websites and chatrooms.

So, Hillary has called Obama racially charged names? Nope. Hillary has not used invective or insult of any kind against Obama or anyone associated with his campaign. Hillary has fought to eliminate such vile talk from the public arena. And yet, Frank Rich equates Hillary with George Allen, a man who kept the Confederate flag on his office wall? A man who picked on a youngster because of the color of his skin.

That is the evil essence of Frank Rich. But he does not stop there. Rich twists things further to make Hillary the race baiter when in fact it is Obama’s campaign that has initiated the race-baiting strategy.

As Sean Wilentz, the Princeton historian, notes in a definitive article ( Obama was the first to play the race card) in Sunday’s Philadelphia Inquirer:

In December, Bill Shaheen, a Clinton campaign co-chair in New Hampshire, wondered aloud whether Obama’s admitted youthful abuse of cocaine might hurt him in the general election. Obama’s strategists insisted that Shaheen’s mere mention of cocaine was suggestive and inappropriate - even though the scourge of cocaine abuse has long cut across both racial and class lines. Pro-Obama press commentators, including New York Times columnist Frank Rich, then whipped the story into a full racial subtext, charging that the Clintons had, in Rich’s words, “ghettoized” Obama “into a cocaine user.”

Got it? It was Frank Rich—not Hillary Clinton—who polluted the public debate with false racial charges and language. If anyone should be compared to George Allen it is Frank Rich. Frank Rich had his “macaca” moment by spreading the scurrilous charge that Hillary was trying to turn Obama into a criminal of the black ghetto. Worse, he keeps repeating it and attacking Hillary Clinton with one big lie after another.

Frank Rich is plowing forward with more racial smears. He fabricates a nonexistent straw man—the “persistent Beltway refrain that race will hinder Mr. Obama at every turn”—and then proceeds to attack all white working class men who might not vote for Obama (and might even have positive reasons to vote for Hillary).

Rich asserts, “The newest incessantly repeated scenario has it that Mr. Obama’s fate now all depends on a stereotypical white blue-collar male voter in the apotheosized rust belt town of Deer Hunter, Pa.” Has more class prejudice ever been compacted into a single sentence published recently in the New York Times? Now Frank Rich is having a new “macaca” moment about blue-collar white males.

Frank Rich’s snide dismissal of the fictional residents of “Deer Hunter, Pa.” is his pathetic, tawdry effort to diminish the importance of the Pennsylvania primary. In the racist world of Frank Rich working and middle class people who dare to vote for Hillary hate black people. Otherwise, according to his twisted logic, how could any sane person vote for that woman?

Frank Rich may be a man of paunchy physical stature, but he stands out like a Rockette in a chorus line of midgets as he jumps to the dance choreographed by the Obama campaign. Rich is on Obama time insisting that:

Pennsylvania doesn’t count!

Hillary, get out! Declare Obama the winner!

Don’t bother with voting!
Michigan and Florida don’t exist!

Rich never misses a chance to inject race baiting and smearing into his columns when he renders his version of the Obama talking points in the pages of the New York Times. That my friends is not only audacious, but shameful. Hillary is not the racist. Hillary is not race baiting. That despicable status belongs to Frank Rich.

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