Rich Lowry

When an unimpeachably liberal former vice-presidential candidate of the Democratic Party is likened to David Duke by a liberal media hero, the political apocalypse -- or at least a grievance-politics cataclysm -- is upon us.

In one of his sputtering-mad "special comments" usually devoted to damning President Bush to hell, Keith Olbermann of MSNBC accused Geraldine Ferraro of employing the "vocabulary of David Duke," and of "insidious racism that is at least two decades old." Back in the glory days of liberaldom, this would have been like Edward R. Murrow calling Eleanor Roosevelt a fascist -- in other words, utter madness.

The Democrats are famous for forming circular firing squads. But apparently the real gunplay doesn't begin until every member of the firing squad thinks he or she has been the victim of racism or sexism. Then, the smell of gun smoke is mingled with self-pitying and overwrought accusations of race or gender bias.

Ferraro had to quit her role on the finance committee in the Clinton campaign for stating the obvious, that Barack Obama wouldn't be in a leading position in the race if he "were a white man." Clearly, his campaign is "making history" because he's an African-American. White senators have run for, and even won, the presidency before. Indeed, a bevy of them briefly challenged Obama in this campaign, before dropping away under the weight of their own un-historic dullness.

The unhinged trajectory of the Democratic race became clear when Bill Clinton got himself accused of racism well before he did any verifiable race-baiting. In New Hampshire, he called the notion that Obama had consistently opposed the Iraq War "a fairy tale," a race-neutral charge that black Democrats nonetheless declared offensive.

On it goes: Harvard professor Orlando Patterson took to the pages of The New York Times to declare Hillary's famous 3 a.m. ad reminiscent of D.W. Griffith's Klan-epic "Birth of a Nation." Because the sleeping child that the ad focuses on is blond and the others are "vaguely Latino," the ad must be suggesting that the kids are about to be attacked by a black man. Only if one of the kids were black could the ad have been saved from this taint (although presumably still open to question -- Why only one black kid? And why does the blond get so much more airtime?).

When Ferraro noted in the midst of her imbroglio, "Every time somebody says something about the [Obama] campaign, you're accused of being racist," she sounded surprised. As if she's unaware that her ideological compatriots have long played the race card against conservatives at the slightest instigation.

Rich Lowry

Rich Lowry is author of Legacy: Paying the Price for the Clinton Years .
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