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Works and Days

Beware the Ides of October

July 15th, 2012 - 9:58 pm

4. Race. Racial acrimony sadly is already rising. The more the growing irrelevance of race in society at large, the more the desperation of those careers that cannot continue without it. Rev. Wright, Obama pastor emeritus, last week was, in Alfred Rosenberg-fashion, bemoaning evil “white DNA.” I’ll pass on the NAACP convention other than to note that the media sought to accuse Romney of racism because he had the fortitude to give his plain message to an audience without pandering. Somehow skipping a sympathetic national NAACP meeting is expected, but venturing into a hostile crowd and trying to win it over with racially blind arguments to economic reason is racist. Suddenly, in the last month or so, everyone from Morgan Freeman, Chris Rock, and James Earl Jones—fading careers all—to the Congressional Black Caucus have weighed in with charges of racism, and sometimes incoherently and in racialist fashion themselves. In the cases of Freeman and Rock, obsession with “white” has become a serial habit.

This is only the beginning. Expect a lot more brief suspensions at MSNBC or CNN as commentators indulge in racially polarizing smears. Eric Holder has already trumped “cowards,” “my people,” and the release of the Black Panthers with accusations that congressional inquirers were racist, as was the Arizona immigration law, as was asking for an ID to vote… as is about everything. And before October passes, “clingers,” “typical white person,” “punish our enemies,” and the quips about Skip Gates and Trayvon Martin will seem passé and mild. It is not going to be an easy thing to watch, because the no-win logic demands that voting for Obama in 2008 won racial redemption and voting against him in 2012 is proof of racism. End of story. Anything less than 45% of the white vote for Obama is proof of racism; more than 95% of the black vote for Obama is proof of sobriety and open-mindedness. Without evil white men behind the curtain with gears and pulleys, there is only disinterested judgment of the economic record that the Congressional Black Caucus and Barack Obama helped craft—one that has set back the inner city and race relations in general two decades.

We have an ugly summer ahead of us.

5. October surprise. This is an old charge against every incumbent, but we all know presidents facing reelection or impeachment can time foreign adventures at opportune times. Nixon went to high-defense alert during Watergate. Bill Clinton wagged the dog against terrorist targets during Monicagate. We never quite knew what both Carter was trying to do with Iran as his polls in the last two weeks slumped or what he accused the Reagan campaign of trying to do. The first siege of Fallujah was called off in 2004—only to be renewed after the election. Obama has already tipped his hand on Russia, with assurances that after the election he will do things he will not do now. And so on. I would expect a real chance for a preemptive strike against Iran, or perhaps even a few UN-approved lead-from-behind bombings in Syria—but only if Obama were 5 points or more behind in the polls and Putin gave him permission. The Right would rally to American soldiers under fire and the national interest, and, as we saw with renditions, preventative detentions, Guantanamo, the Patriot Act, predators, and military tribunals, the Left worries only about supposedly anti-constitutional protocols and the use of military force as clubs to bash conservative presidents. The Left would complain about a strike on Iran about as much as they did an open Guantanamo or a 2,000+ Predator assassination tally—as former Bush (“torturer in chief”) critic Harold Koh would write yet another State Department legal brief reminding us that bombing the hell out of an opponent was not really a military operation. Bottom line: watch U.S. naval and air deployments in late September.

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