Thursday, March 16, 2006


Claude Allen's Crash

Well, that certainly didn't take long! The couch- potato psychoanalysis of Claude Allen from one Erin Aubry Kaplan.

Of course, it has to be because Allen is black. Um, no change that, it is because he is a black conservative:

I don't support conservatism in its current iteration, and I support black conservatives even less, but we cannot ignore the racial implications of this latest Republican fall from grace. Here is a decidedly white-collar black man getting clipped for a blue-collar crime associated with economic necessity, one that practically guarantees prison time for most black men in this country. (Even if he's ultimately convicted, it's doubtful that Allen will end up behind bars.)
Um, well we could "ignore the racial implications if we wanted to." But, why -- especially when we have a column to fill?

Here is a man who, like most black conservatives, has had to do an awful lot of
personal and political rationalizing to pay dues, which included apprenticing
with then-North Carolina senator and habitual racist Jesse Helms and opposing
the Martin Luther King Jr. holiday.

Allen, a lawyer, was also President Bush's top advisor on domestic policy in an era when domestic policy has been indifferent at best to the growing needs of the poor — the black poor especially. Bush is fond of this kind of symbolism: putting black faces in key positions in order to appear racially progressive. It wouldn't be such a bad
thing if the faces actually were progressive or had a vision more pressing than being loyal to the president, but they don't.

Loyalty has been the price of admission to this administration, and black conservatives have proved to be more loyal than most.
Oh, right: "putting black faces in key positions to appear progressive..."

Um, like, there's no possibility that these "black faces" (NOT "black people", just "faces") might actually, you know, believe in conservative or Republican beliefs -- AND they might be actually capable in their positions too? Oh, perish the thought!

There's no way they would have some independent thought in their mind. You know, it's almost as if they were...yep, you know what's coming:

That has unfortunately, but not always unfairly, invited comparisons to slave times, when the most loyal blacks were those who worked in closest proximity to their white masters — house Negroes, as they were derisively known. Such Negroes gained privilege but lost standing in their own community, a price that might have been reasonable if they were eventually granted the same status as the whites they so assiduously served. They weren't, of course; race has always mattered. And it matters now, though the dynamic is more subtle and devious.

Fast-track people such as Allen are praised by conservatives for being shining examples of their race, and, at the same time, they are used in one way or another for public relations purposes and damage control during racially charged moments. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice was hastily dispatched to tour the Katrina-shattered South. Her predecessor, Colin Powell, was forced to sit out a world conference on racism and reparations in South Africa five years ago because of his country's — not his — official disdain for the whole notion.
Funny, Rice and Powell are lumped in here -- as de facto slaves -- even though they aren't, at least in the 'movement' sense, conservatives. They are Republican, but they are not conservative.

I will agree with Kaplan that sending Rice down to Katrina-ville did smack of desperation, but given how many ways the Bush administration had already screwed up at that point, it is hardly surprising. Besides, Rice actually grew up in Alabama, so it's not like it was completely inappropriate.

Meanwhile, Powell's being mentioned here is rather curious given the earlier line, "black conservatives have proved to be more loyal than most." Has Kaplan even read any of Woodward's books with thinly-disguised voice of Powell attacking the pro-Iraq War faction within the administration?

Does race have some factor in Allen's fall? Perhaps. But, it is too damn easy to make that leap. In a way, it is as invidious as someone who is almost happy when some thug is hauled in on Cops -- and is black. It confirms the bigotry that was in the heart to begin with.

A black conservative picked up for fraud/shop-lifting -- it's because he was a right-winger! See -- told ya!

It couldn't possibly be because he's a human being who has made a tragic wrong turn? Years ago, after first rocketing to success in the Reagan administration, Larry Kudlow hit Wall Street and
developed a serious cocaine problem. It nearly wrecked his marriage and killed him.

But, he overcame it.

Academic Glenn Loury -- who is black -- also had a drug problem. After he cleaned himself up, he split from the right and is now more of a
mainstream academic at Brown University.

Political consultant Roger Stone was
found to cruise sex clubs.

Andrew Sullivan took out personal ads seeking unsafe sex.

(And there are numerous such "falls from grace" on the liberal side as well. My point here is to de-couple the race and ideology argument from one's emotional and mental crises.)

People in public life all have some personal demons with which they have to grapple -- some more insidous than others -- just like EVERYBODY ELSE.

In my own family, there are alcoholics, compulsive gamblers and felons. Different people all trying to put their lives back in order. Their foibles have as little to do with their race as it does with their political affiliation (for what it's worth, I'm the only official Republican).

I have no idea why Claude Allen did what he did (assuming it wasn't his twin brother -- whose existence nonetheless does raise odd parallels to the Don Cheadle plot in Crash).

But neither does Erin Aubry Kaplan. But, it's so easy to make the "mentally-disturbed race-traitor" leap. Ironically, Kaplan is doing a version of what Allen has been arrested for: Going for the goods on the cheap.

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