Conservative McCarthyism

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JONATHAN CHAIT NOVEMBER 8, 2010

Conservative McCarthyism

George F. Will is one of those conservatives who demands a high standard of proof when it comes to accusing white people of harboring racial prejudice against minorities:

STEPHANOPOULOS: We -- we heard President Obama say he thinks that a lot of anti- government feeling, the idea that the government can't do anything right, is behind all this. What's your theory?

WILL: The president's right about that. What we're hearing is the liberals' McCarthyism, which is, when in doubt, blame people for racism. Litigators have an old argument: When the law's on your side, argue the law. When the facts are on your side, argue the facts. When neither's on your side, pound the table. This amounts to pounding the table.

I have yet to see evidence, is there -- does evidence even intrude in this conversation? Is there any evidence that these people are racists? I think not.

That's Will last year. Here he is writing yesterday:

National Democrats' desperate attempts to defeat Marco Rubio in Florida's Senate race culminated in their Clintonian dissembling about their attempts to force their party's nominee to leave the race and support the independent candidacy of Plasticman, a.k.a. Gov. Charlie Crist. This maneuver reprised Democratic fury against Clarence Thomas 19 years ago. Back then, an African American conservative was an affront to the Democratic Party's sense of entitlement regarding African Americans' support. Today, two Hispanic Republicans - Rubio and Gov.-elect Susana Martinez of New Mexico - threaten Democratic hopes for similar sway over America's largest and fastest-growing minority.

Let's unpack this. In 1991, most Senate Democrats opposed Clarence Thomas's Supreme Court nomination. In Will's view, this was not because Thomas was extremely conservative compared to most Republican Supreme Court justices, or less qualified, or a probable perjurer, or a combination of the three. It was because he's black.

Likewise, some Democrats tried to persuade their Florida Senate candidate to withdraw so that Charlie Crist, who had been moving leftward and pledging to caucus with Democrats, might stand a chance to win. In Will's mind, this was not because Democrats wanted to maximize their chances of capturing a Senate seat, but because the Republican was Latino.

So apparently Senate Democrats would happily confirm an underqualified, very conservative, probably perjurer Supreme Court nominee who was white. And they would never dream of maneuvering to push a candidate out of the race if the Republican opponent were white.

Where is the evidence? Will doesn't require any. He likes his McCarthyism unmodified.

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posted in: jonathan chait, charlie crist, clarence thomas, george f. will, george f. will, florida, senate, supreme court

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