I thought I could anticipate all the conservative excuses, should President Obama remain President Obama after November 6. But damn, I didn’t expect this one from conservative intellectual George Will:
Perhaps a pleasant paradox defines this political season: That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president. If so, the 2012 election speaks well of the nation’s heart, if not its head.
Get it? Folks don’t want to see Their Negro fail in his first job! Oh, my, God. The condescension is, uh—let me catch my breath—breathtaking. Will is saying that if Barack Obama weren’t black, he’d be toast in November! Americans are engaging in a “pleasant” bit of affirmative action!
If this reasoning sounds familiar, it should. It is very similar to the reasoning Rush Limbaugh used in 2003 on ESPN’s Sunday NFL Countdown—and which lost him that inexplicable gig as a commentator and which later kept him from buying into an NFL franchise—regarding quarterback and African-American Donovan McNabb.
McNabb, you may remember, had three consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and had led his team to a couple of NFC championship games before Limbaugh, during pre-game commentary nine years ago, said this:
Sorry to say this, I don’t think he’s been that good from the get-go. I think what we’ve had here is a little social concern in the NFL. The media has been very desirous that a black quarterback do well. There is a little hope invested in McNabb, and he got a lot of credit for the performance of this team that he didn’t deserve. The defense carried this team.
Limbaugh resigned under pressure soon after those remarks, but was always defended by the right-wing as a victim, since it is hard for palefaced conservatives to see the condescension and offense embedded in them.
Perhaps George Will thinks it is career-enhancing to channel Rush Limbaugh, when trying to explain why Obama might win. And given the state of the conservative movement in the Age of The Scary Negro, perhaps it is.