by Max Brantley
Jimmy Carter spoke plain truth recently, saying there's an undeniable racial element in some of the criticism of President Obama. He included U.S. Rep. Joe Wilson's outburst.
Coupling the Wilson remark with the images in recent weeks of angry demonstrators wielding signs depicting Mr. Obama as a Nazi or as Adolf Hitler, Mr. Carter said: “There is an inherent feeling among many in this country that an African-American should not be president.”
Republicans resent the criticism, including a black Republican, National Chair Michael Steele. Said Steele:
“President Carter is flat out wrong. This isn’t about race. It is about policy. This is a pathetic distraction by Democrats to shift attention away from the president’s wildly unpopular government-run health care plan that the American people simply oppose. Injecting race into the debate over critical issues facing American families doesn’t create jobs, reform our health care system or reduce the growing deficit. It only divides Americans rather than uniting us to find solutions to challenges facing our nation.”
So here's a suggested question for Philander Smith College President Walter Kimbrough, who'll host Steele in an appearance in the Little Rock college's free lecture series at 7 p.m. Monday night.
"You think we just fell off the turnip truck?"
More seriously, he could ask Steele if he knew about the neo-Confederate political consultant Joe Wilson uses, the one who sells T-shirts depicting Abraham Lincoln as a tyrant. Writes Joe Conason:
Even now, Republican leaders in Washington—presumably including the black chairman of the Republican National Committee, Michael Steele—make common cause with the neo-Confederates. They pretend not to notice the Dixie flags, the habitual expressions of racism and bigotry or the poisonous attitude toward Lincoln, King and the other saviors of the nation. And they pretend that the politicians who stoke these smoldering hatreds are loyal to the same ideals as the rest of us.
Ask him if that's so, Dr. Kimbrough.