Sunday, July 27, 2008

The unforgiving minute

Spencer Ackerman makes the point that when David Broder and his ilk return again and again to the subject of Obama's "articulateness," it's code-word racism: It's talking about Obama, says Ackerman, "in a way he would never talk about a white candidate."

Well, yes, but I think there's something more revealing going on here: For Republicans, "articulateness" has become a tainted word (or else why would they use it to put the needle to Obama?).

Whatever problem Republicans had with Bill Clinton as president, it certainly wasn't that he was inarticulate. More often it was the opposite: If anything, they still rage at his Jesuitical "depends on what the meaning of 'is' is" line; they roll their eyes at his reputation for droning on about policy details; they think of him as being too clever by half.

On the other hand, for the last 30 years, Republicans have been drawn to presidents who become laughable for their unreliability when it comes to putting a coherent sentence together--think not only of Bush II, but also Bush I, Reagan, and Ford. The last articulate president the Republicans put up was Richard Nixon.

That didn't work out well, I'll grant you, but at least he wasn't inarticulate.

Minute's up.

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