New York Times columnist says 125 million white Americans are racist 

Well, that’s not exactly what Rich said — but he might as well have. There was a lot of chatter over the weekend about Rich’s New York Times column asserting that opposition to the new health care legislation is driven by racial animus. (Rich even resorted to the ever-popular reductio ad Hitlerum argument by comparing Tea Party protests to Kristallnacht.) Well, David Paul Kuhn of Real Clear Politics has a smart column putting these claims in perspective:

Now follow Rich’s logic. Presume, however wrongly, that all of these activists are really upset by “the conjunction of a black president and a female speaker of the House” rather than politics, as Rich argued.

There are 187 million white adults in the United States. Only 39 percent of whites approve of Obama, according to Gallup. That means about 114 million white adults do not approve of this president. The largest Tea Party rally represented .0006 percent of these whites.

Only one-third of white women and white men approve of the healthcare law, according to Quinnipiac. If Rich is correct, and opposition to the healthcare overhaul concerns race, then roughly 125 million white adults are racists.

Kuhn also makes a strong argument that frivolous accusations of racism only hurts liberals in the end:

The same far-right fringe that dogged Clinton now dogs Obama. And on that fringe, George W. Bush faced a strong leftist radicalism of his own. It’s not race. It’s our politics. And it gets ugly sometimes.

But this racism charge is also a unique matter. It creates a whirlwind that always hurts liberals in the end. Many liberals still presume whites’ politics are racist rather than reasonable. Pretty soon, many whites stop listening to liberals. And in time, the overuse of the race card dulls the impact of the charge itself.

Obama won roughly the same share of, if not slightly more, whites as Al Gore and John Kerry. Obama polled like Gore and Kerry throughout the race. Yet many analysts, including those tossing the race card today, saw Obama’s white troubles in racial terms – despite the facts.

Obama’s approval rating has fallen 24 percentage points with whites, since his first week. How these whites see Obama has changed. Obama’s race has not.

As nice complement to Kuhn’s column, be sure to read David Freddoso’s column today on Democrats’ lame attempts to characterize their opposition as violent and illegitimate.

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Mark Hemingway

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