A New York Times article last week tried to explain black voters’ forgiving embrace of Weiner and Spitzer. It’s true, you know: The numbers show that black voters are more likely to favor our favorite Casanova pols. Of course, Rush Limbaugh had to get one more vile opinion out before Cumulus Media jettisons his show out the airlock.
Limbaugh, a man with a Ph.D. in race-baiting, took to the airwaves with his theory for the race gap:
It’s not that they don’t have a problem with Spitzer and Weiner, it’s that Spitzer and Weiner are Democrats, and as far as black voters are concerned, Democrats can’t do any wrong, not really. They don’t care if Santa Claus is a pervert. They don’t care if Santa Claus happens to be a philanderer.
The demented imagery is Limbaugh’s way of resurrecting the Welfare Queen straw man from the 1980s: Black people don’t care who is handing out entitlements, as long as they’re being handed out.
The problem here is that the original Times article’s hamfisted portrayal of black political life commits the same crime as Limbaugh’s. Both conjure the specter of a political machine that discourages black voters from thinking critically about candidates.
Limbaugh’s sweaty, perverted Santa Claus take another form in the Times article: Black people in New York are voting for Spitzer and Weiner because they’re used to the moral betrayals of their own political leaders in the past, and because so many black men have been to prison, there is a stronger belief in second chances in black communities.
Really, New York Times? Questioning why black voters are more forgiving of Spitzer and Weiner is an interesting question, but it’s trivia, nothing more. Committing column inches to it has no real consequence except to smear black voters with the same stigma already marking the two candidates. The opinions presented by your sources are flat and dumb, and because they landed in your pages, what are pretty rickety notions now have the oomph of the Paper of Record behind them.
And at least Limbaugh’s caterwauling about the Great Liberal Conspiracy is entertaining. The pat conclusions of the Times piece negate an entire segment of the electorate, and it was boring to read.
The piece’s lack of nuance–a bad habit of the Grey Lady in general–not only overdetermines the Black political experience, but it leaves gaps for stereotypes and innuendo to fill in. The Times and Limbaugh both offer what they think is the formula for trapping the black vote, and it just does not add up.