Democrats -- both avowed and certain sympathizers in the media -- are again scared that political attacks on Barack Obama are coming from racial animus. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd charges that that is the true subtext behind Rep. Joe Wilson's unprecedented "You lie" outburst in last week's address to Congress: Southern politician doesn't accept authority of a black man in the presidency.
Politico then followed that up with a story of several Democrats sharing their discomfort about the Obama animus.
But let's calm down a bit. Stipulate that some of the bizarre attacks on Obama might stem from the combination of his name and his hue (gotta figure that if he were still a black guy, but named Joe Smith, the Birthers probably wouldn't even get to rhetorical first base with some of their claims). But does one guy from South Carolina calling the president a liar have to be the spark for much racial suspicion?
Think about it: The last five days have been a high-water mark for universal intemperate behavior. Call it the the Tri-W Wigout -- Joe Wilson (a white male politician) goes off on Barack Obama (the black-white president); Serena Williams (the black female tennis star) goes off on unnamed lineswoman (who appeared to be Asian); Kanye West (a black male rapper) disses Taylor Swift (a white female country singer) in favor of Beyonce Knowles (a black female R&B singer). All of these incidents involve individuals of different races (and genders in two instances).
They are interracial exchanges, but do they arise from racial (if not racist) sentiment? Not necessarily. True, Wilson has some history in that area: He dismissed the true claims of Strom Thurmond's illegitimate biracial daughter as a "smear." But, even so, there's not a track record of him going out of his way to insult black people. While it's true that no member of the opposition has ever hurled a personal insult at the president during an address to the chamber, it's also true that rhetoric of all sorts has increased in passion in recent years.
As Freud once said, sometimes a cigar is just a cigar. An intemperate outburst is just that. It's not about race; it's about the passion of the moment. The offender should fully apologize and those who take offense should accept that apology and let everyone move on. Joe, Serena, Kanye, chill pills for all three of you. OK?