Monday, July 16, 2007


I Must Admit...

...the same thought occurred to me.

There are only two ways to think about what Novak is saying, neither too flattering.

It's either 1) The American public is basically racist and sexist and are unlikely to vote for a black or a woman or, 2) Republicans are uniquely positioned to run a racist/sexist campaign. The second scenario offends me as a Republican; the first offends me as an American.

If Novak had made the caveat that America isn't ready to vote for this black (as opposed to, for argument's sake, Colin Powell) or this woman (as opposed to, for argument's sake, Condoleezza Rice or Elizabeth Dole), that would have been one thing.

But he didn't.

Given the way he characterized it, I'm not sure if he was endorsing this sentiment or just reporting it as being prominent within the GOP. And since this was an "off the record" comment, he won't bother sharing exactly who in the party is preparing to make racist or sexist appeals in the general election.

And, as Steve Benen at TPM noted, none of the four other white men on the panel found it worthwhile to call him on it.

Pathetic all the way around.

UPDATE: Some of the Comments section asked for clarification on what I found "offensive" in Novak's remarks. Well, I was offended by the notion that Americans, collectively, are still so racist and sexist enough to reject a black person or a woman out of hand (which is a different proposition from rejecting Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton specifically). I'm offended that Novak's unnamed Republican -- with issues and political circumstances seeming to be running against the GOP in '08 -- was hoping that Democrats nominate a black or woman in order to run what could be considered a racist/sexist campaign.

But, upon reflection, what I found most offensive actually was Novak's glee at this prospect.

Looking at the
video of him on MTP , it seems pretty clear that he was not engaging in neutral reporting: The prospect of Republicans trying to exploit sentiments on race and gender was exhilarating to him. And, neither Russert or Hunt (forget about Shrum) bothered to explore the implications of his statement -- either from the GOP's perspective or his own.

Just to be fair in context, Russert's roundtable was in the midst of laudatory look at Novak's just-released autobiography, and so everyone was in a jocular "those were the days" mode. Still, if the show is called "Meet The Press," you'd think there might be occasion to actually explore a sensitive topic if it comes up in the course of the conversation.

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