Rush Limbaugh, somewhat predictably, isn't backing down from his claim that Colin Powell's endorsement of Barack Obama was a product of their both being black men -- that is, that it was about race, not policy;
"I thought it should be about race," he said. "I thought you liberals thought this was a historic candidacy because finally we are going to elect a black guy…why hide behind this, why act like it's not about race?"
"This was all about Powell and race, nothing about the nation and its welfare," Limbaugh added.
Limbaugh simply doesn't get it. Obama's candidacy is historic, yes -- but what has made it possible all along is that his campaign has been about transcending race, not wallowing in it.
Obama has carefully eschewed identity politics throughout this campaign. Meanwhile, the Republican campaign has been about nothing but. And it has its most transparent mouthpiece in Limbaugh.
Limbaugh is the guy at the sports bar who carefully tabulates the racial composition of every team on the screen and roots accordingly. If a team has a black quarterback, he predicts they're going to lose. Heaven forfend that any black player demonstrate too much enthusiasm over a touchdown or a dunk or a home run, or that any black linebacker should level a white quarterback, because then the "thug" and "jungle" references come out. He hates Tiger Woods with an inexplicable venom (mostly because he's too
uppity "full of himself").
We all know that guy. (Some of them are in our families.) And anyone who's even moderately serious about sports, and moderately knowledgeable about them, knows that that guy is completely and hopelessly full of shit.
What anyone who knows sports can tell you is this: certain races may tend to certain attributes culturally, but the only thing that matters in sports is how you perform on the field. Race is obliterated by this. Because whites, blacks, Latinos, Asians, Pacific Islanders ... their ultimate athletic measure is how they do their jobs.
Well, sports aren't politics, but they can be a useful analogy. The choice Americans face this election is of such immense gravity, the stakes so high, that we simply can't afford to be distracted by the rantings of know-nothings more intent on sowing division than solving the all-too-serious problems -- indeed, a challenge of Augean proportions -- that lie ahead of us. What matters is finding the person who clearly is most likely to perform well on the field.
And the majority of Americans know that. The cloistered True Believers like Limbaugh, clinging to their race-baiting ways ... not so much.
Yes, we can be proud to elect a black man President for the first time in history. But we are only doing so because we have judged the content of his character, not the color of his skin. Obama will be the next president not because he is black, but because he is the best man for the job.
I suspect, deep in his heart of hearts, Rush Limbaugh knows this. And it is driving him insane.