I couldn't help but notice (and lament) the subtle digs the partisan media took at President Bush when he observed the 40th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act on July 1. It's as if Bush, a Republican, is presumptively disqualified from celebrating civil rights.
The Washington Post couldn't be content with reporting on Bush's comments. It had to challenge, however subtly, the genuineness of his commitment to the cause.
The Post seemed to be referring to the apparent hypocrisy in the president placing a wreath on Martin Luther King's tomb, then nominating Judge Charles Pickering to the U.S. Court of Appeals, "even though Pickering had reduced the sentence of a man convicted in a cross-burning case."
I'm not going to revisit the merits of the false charges of racism against Pickering that I addressed in a column some time ago, except to say that Pickering had legitimate (non-racial) reasons for his sentencing. He also proved his timber by risking his own life and that of his family by testifying against a Ku Klux Klan leader. He didn't just talk some phony talk. He walked the walk of racial equality.
Yet here we have the second most prominent voice of the partisan print media repeating these same ugly charges against Pickering in an effort to taint President Bush on the race issue by association.
But some things just never change. On a connecting flight from Fresno to Los Angeles a few weeks ago, I had the pleasure of sitting by a very friendly lady from the Northeast -- a professor, an author and a self-described liberal. In the course of our conversation she basically admitted that she believes political conservatives, categorically, are racists.
It's sad, really. I've been battling this stereotype since I became interested in politics. It's the first cousin of the canard that conservatives lack compassion.
Most Democratic politicians won't come right out and make the accusation directly, but they might as well, given the thinly disguised innuendoes they often use to perpetuate the myth.
You will surely remember the radio ads by the Missouri Democratic Party saying, "When you don't vote, you let another church explode. When you don't vote, you allow another cross to burn. When you don't vote, you let another assault wound a brother or sister." Or the NAACP ads suggesting that George Bush, in refusing to support hate crimes legislation, was killing black dragging victim James Byrd "all over again."