It's Always One Word
It's always one word: A Politico reporter's use of "white" was out of line.
This will surprise some of you conservatives, but Poltico was right to suspend Joseph Williams, its White House reporter, for saying that Mitt Romney is most comfortable around white folks. He also wrote some tasteless tweets about the Romney clan, which you can find easily enough if you're interested.
Some of you should get this through your heads with respect to me. I'm an opinion writer. Williams was/is a straight news reporter. There is no way a straight news reporter should be expressing views like that. I'd have suspended him too if I were John Harris.
Opinion writers are different. I know this seems like Journalism 101 to most of you, but we all see the number of wingers who hop on these threads to announce, mirabile dictu, that they have detect bias in my work! Yes, I certainly hope so. And there are plenty of other writers you can go to and find the other kind of bias in their work. And so the world spins.
I would be allowed to say, then, that I think Romney is most comfortable around white folks, if I believed it and made a case to support it. I suspect it's more or less true, in fact, but I think Williams put the matter crudely. Romney would not be very comfortable around, for example, a bunch of white Earth Firsters or Spartacists or members of an East Village lesbian performance art collective. So it's not merely skin color. It's other things--class, shared world view, and so on. That stuff can sometimes be short-handed to "white," but at the speaker's peril.
Anyway it just goes to show. It's always one word that does the damage. In this case "white." If Williams had said "right-wing folks," there's a chance he might still have his gig. With Obama, back in 2008, it was "cling." If he'd said those folks "take comfort in" guns and religion, it wouldn't have been nearly so bad. Same with "fine." If he'd said the private economy was "doing all right" or "okay," he could have gotten away with that.
Which just goes to show that certain words, many words, carry electric charges and spark immediate synaptic responses. This is why most politicians, very much including Obama 97 percent of the time, never say anything remotely interesting.