Nobody was more eager to talk about race in America today--about Jeremiah Wright, the African-American preacher at Barack Obama's church--than William Kristol.
Let's Not, and Say We Did: I shuddered... while watching Barack Obama's speech last Tuesday.... [Obama said] "But race is an issue that I believe this nation cannot afford to ignore right now." As soon as I heard that, I knew what we'd have to endure. I knew that there would be a stampede of editorial boards, columnists and academics rushing not to ignore race. A national conversation about race! At long last!... The last thing we need now is a heated national conversation about race.
What we need instead are sober, results-oriented debates about economics, social mobility, education, family policy and the like.... "National conversations" tend to be pointless and result-less. Or worse. Especially when they're about race.... A new national conversation about race isn't necessary....
Over the last several decades, we've done pretty well in overcoming racial barriers and prejudice. Problems remain. But we won't make progress if we now have to endure a din of race talk that will do more to divide us than to unite us, and more to confuse than to clarify...
With respect to having a national conversation on race, my recommendation is: Let's not, and say we did.
The only appropriate response is derisive laughter. Cowardly invertebrate! William Kristol! But I repeat myself.
William Kristol the invertebrate coward was ready--nay, eager and enthusiastic--to have a national conversation about race.
Until it went wrong.
Until it began to look as though Americans were less racist than William Kristol and his political allies were counting on.
Until it began to look as though Barack Obama talking about Black attitudes toward whites in America gained rather than lost independent voters.
Then the invertebrate, then the coward turned tail and ran:
The last thing we need now is a heated national conversation about race.... "National conversations"... pointless and result-less. Or worse. Especially when they're about race.... conversation about race isn't necessary.... [W]e won't make progress if we now have to endure a din of race talk... more to divide us than to unite... more to confuse than to clarify...
But William Kristol is not the only cowardly invertebrate here. When Kristol's column hit the New York Times building Sunday night, it should have run some alarm bells. David Shipley should have gone to Carla Anne Robins who should have gone to Andrew Rosenthal. They should have said:
Hey! Wait a minute! Kristol was enthusiastic about race-talk a week ago, when he thought it was a way he could knife Obama. If we publish this, we'll be even more of a laughingstock than we already are--Kristol is pumping our credibility as an organization dry. We need to call him and tell him to reconsider: tell him that he can't use our space to make fools of us as well as of himself, and that our readers have a memory at least a week long and will remember what he wrote last time.
They should have gone to Bill Keller, and Arthur Ochs Sulzberger. Jill Abramson and John Geddes and Jonathan Landsman and Dean Baquet and Richard Berke and Tom Bodkin and Susan Edgerley and Glenn Kramon and Gerald Marzorati and Michele McNally and William Schmidt and Craig Whitney--at least one of them should have weighed in, reminding Rosenthal and Sulzberger that when the editorial page dynamites its own credibility it dynamites the credibility of the news pages aas well. None of them did. Invertebrate cowards, all.
Why oh why can't we have a better press corps?