Similarly, most Republicans who voted against the President in November 2008 support his decision to increase our troop commitment in Afghanistan. Republicans, not unlike the black voters in California, differentiated their opposition to the election of the President from their support for his decision on an issue -- the war against Islamofascists in Afghanistan -- with which they agree.
In 2000, many Republicans urged a black man, former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Colin Powell, to run for president. If Powell had chosen to pursue it and had secured the Republican Party's nomination, he could well have become the country's first black president -- with broad GOP support.
In 2006, a black man, then-Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael Steele, ran for U.S. Senate as a Republican. Then-Sen. Barack Obama campaigned against him and in favor of his white Democratic opponent. Obama told an audience at the historically black Bowie State University: "Listen, I think it's great that the Republican Party has discovered black people. But here's the thing. ... You don't vote for somebody because of what they look like. You vote for somebody because of what they stand for." Did this make Obama a "racist" against his own people by opposing a fellow black?
Mr. Carter, please ponder the following question. Why, in 1993, did "racist" conservatives oppose President Clinton's attempt at government seizure of health care? Clinton, remember, was -- and remains -- white.
Do some Americans oppose the President because of his race? Yes, 3 percent. Back in 1958, only 35 percent of whites said they would vote for a black president. By 2006, a mere 3 percent of all voters said they would not vote for a black president. Call it the "Elvis Factor."
A local branch of the Anti-Defamation League, a few years ago, invited me to speak. Before my speech, the head of the organization addressed the audience and gave them the results of the latest poll on American anti-Semitism. Good news, he said, anti-Semitism stood at a historical low -- 12 percent.
Before I began my prepared remarks, I commented on the poll results. "Yes," I said, "this is good news that anti-Semitism has declined to its lowest point. But don't expect that number to get much lower. A recent poll found that 10 percent of Americans believe Elvis Presley is still alive, and 8 percent believe that if you send him a letter -- he will get it."
The audience laughed.
But there was a serious point. The notion that we can reach a sort of non-racist, non-sexist, non-homophobic nirvana is romantic, unrealistic and nonsensical. Wing nuts will, unfortunately, always be with us. It is, however, even more unfortunate that a former President of the United States sits among them.