Every few years the American family tells itself that, damn it, we're finally going sit on down around the national table and have that very important Conversation About Race that we have be postponing for a couple of centuries.
Or maybe it's every few months. I lose track.
Anyway, very much like the Conversation About Guns that we never have, at regular intervals following certain kinds of national tragedies, Very Serious People gather 'round to say that it is high time to have that very important, very uncomfortable Conversation About Race.
From Meet the Press:
CHUCK TODD: We thought the call for a conversation about race sounded familiar, so we looked at some old video and discovered Democrats, in particular, have been talking about this idea for a long time. Let's look back, starting with President Obama after Ferguson.
Any sometimes we get tantalizingly close.
But then the Both Siderist goon squad shows up to taser that fledgling conversation, throw it into the back of a panel truck, drive it out past there the streets are paved and bury it in the swamp.
CHUCK TODD: But can either of these candidates, among the least popular, least trusted and most divisive in history, somehow become the President that heals a nation desperately searching for unity?...CHUCK TODD: Senator Booker, I understand you made the case against Mr. Trump, but how does Hillary Clinton, who is almost as polarizing and as divisive, how does she make the case that she's the candidate here for reconciliation?
I have to give Senator Cory Booker all kinds of credit for slapping the "No Labels"/Let's Blame Everybody dick right outta Chuck Todd's mouth (h/t Heather at Crooks & Liars for the video)
SENATOR BOOKER: I patently disagree with you on issues of race and religious diversity that she is in any way polarizing. If anything, I've watched her in black communities and white communities and even after this tragedy, put forth the spirit of America, which is an understanding that as our founders said in the Declaration of Independence, this is a time we need to mutually pledge to each other our lives, our fortunes and our sacred honor. And she has manifested that on issues of race, of religion, of gender diversity. She is someone that can build our bridges and far more than the alternative.CHUCK TODD: All right.SENATOR CORY BOOKER: Someone who is injecting more divisiveness in this country through his rhetoric, through his affiliations.CHUCK TODD: Okay.SENATOR CORY BOOKER: And actually, refusal to even denounce patent racists.
The air-escaping-the-neck-of-a-balloon noise that is nearly audible at this point is the sound of Mr. Todd trying to discretely shart his David Broder Memorial Underoos, because Holy Stokely Carmichael, Batman, an actual, grownup Conversation About Race is threatening to break out right there on the set of "Meet the Press"!
And so, inevitably...
SENATOR CORY BOOKER: And actually, refusal to even denounce patent racists.CHUCK TODD: Senator Corker, Senator Booker, I'm going to leave it there...
Damn right you're going to leave it there.
And to defuse the dangerously authentic dialogue that Senator Booker had dropped in his lap, Mr. Todd rolled out the usual suspects.
First on the scene with the Febreeze and orange sawdust was former George W. Bush chief speechwriter, senior Republican policy adviser, Conservative Christian and reliable Beltway Republican stalactite, Michael Gerson, who has been lauded up one side of the Beltway and down the other for boldly noticing ten minutes ago what the Dirty Hippies have been saying for decades: that to win elections, his Republican party knowingly allied itself with racists, pharisees, lunatics and various pit vipers on the "Conservative Christian" grift years ago and that Faustian electoral bargain has been the cause of an escalating series of catastrophes of which Donald Trump is only the latest and most flamboyant.
MICHAEL GERSON: Yeah, you'd think political parties would want to pick popular candidates. And in fact, they have chosen two deeply divisive candidates here. And there are elements in our politics, not these two people, necessarily, or maybe one, elements in our politics that want to feed just enough anger, just enough resentment, but not over into violence. And that is the most dangerous game that you can possibly play in politics. We have a Republican nominee who rose to prominence by criticizing the other, creating fear of the other. We have a conservative media in parts right now that has a white identity message, okay. And that, all of this is deeply destructive; it's not the kind of leadership we need.
Sift through the tortured double-talk of this highly paid, professional presidential speechwriter and pundit and what you will hear is sound of full-blown Republican Detachment Disorder -- blaming for every wrong, bent thing the Republican party on Donald J. Trump (and "a conservative media" which apparently precipitated out of thin air nine minutes ago) with no mention whatsoever made of the decades of hard work in the trenches put in by people like Michael Gerson to gut the Party of Lincoln and turn it into a racist, paranoid dung heap that is just vicious and ignorant enough to nominate Donald J. Trump.
Then, of course, we limp awkwardly back to our regular, halting, nondenominational Both Siderism:
EUGENE ROBINSON: I think -- What he said about Trump, but also, you know, the situation, as you said, is that half the country just tunes out when Hillary Clinton speaks. You know, the other half --CHUCK TODD: And the other half tunes out when--EUGENE ROBINSON: --tunes out when Donald Trump speaks, maybe more than half.CHUCK TODD: Right.EUGENE ROBINSON: And so, that's not conducive to a national conversation about race...
This is followed immediately by steaming helping of cask-strength Conservative Denialism served with a side of Both Siderism by teevee's most obsolete wingnut hobgoblin, Mary Matalin:
MARY MATALIN: Stop, stop, stop. Everything isn't about race, or everything is about the economy, which affects every race, every gender, every orientation the same. Donald Trump did not come out of the head of Zeus, okay? The party created him by being unresponsive to the party's demands and the successive tsunami midterms, which wanted to have some sort of reform repeal of Obamacare, wanted to reduce the overreach of government, wanted a more robust economic recovery, wanted a cessation of the intrusion into their life by all these regulations. That's what's going on in every community out there. And Donald Trump is just riding that wave. And you're not wrong about -- their rhetoric, both of them, is detached...
Once again, it fell to a black man -- this time Michael Eric Dyson -- to try to drag the cream of the Peacock Network --
-- into that Conversation About Race which all of them pretend to want to have:
MICHAEL ERIC DYSON: Well, hold on. So it is about race. So when you say, "Hold on, hold on, it's not about race," of course it is, it's just not about blackness. It's also about whiteness. And we don't have a conversation in this country with race and whiteness. Whiteness is at stake; Donald Trump has, I think, in a beguiling way seduced many working-class white people into believing that he will be their defender when, indeed, he is not.And on top of that, Hillary Clinton, when we get past the optics and cosmetics, has put forth consistently public policy recommendations that will speak to the vicious undercurrent of racism in this country, but also bring together various constituencies along the continuum of race in this country. I think that's what's important.
And once again, Mr. Todd unloaded whatever was left of his breakfast into his Underoos and ran pell-mell in the opposite direction as fast as his little legs would take him:
CHUCK TODD: All right, but Gene, it goes back to-- and I think it's what Cory Booker was trying to get at, Senator Booker was trying to get at, which is, you know, he says, "Well, she's doing all of these things," but the country's going to tune her out.EUGENE ROBINSON: Well--CHUCK TODD: The whole point of unity is, can you get 10% of the other side to listen to you?
Because while Black Lives Matter, protecting the Beltway's Both Siderist narrative at any cost matters so very much more.