Palin Versus the 'Racist Tea Party' Charge

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Nov. 23 2010 9:51 AM

Palin Versus the 'Racist Tea Party' Charge

I'm reading Sarah Palin's America by Heart for a review today -- I'd like to thank the governor for pushing this out on a slow holiday news week -- and marked down the brief section in which she dismisses the idea that there's racism in the Tea Party. Like a lot of conservative pundits, her Exhibit A is the inability for Congressmen John Lewis and Andre Carson to prove that they were actually subjected to racial slurs during the health care vote.

Despite the fact that everyone walks around these days with a cell phone capable of capturing video, evidence to support the charge has never emerged. In the weeks and months after the alleged incident, conservative blogger Andrew Breitbart even offered huge cash rewards to anyone who could produce proof that the health care protestors had shouted racial slurs. No proof ever emerged.

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This quickly wends into Palin's much-excerpted rant about how Barack and Michelle Obama believe America is racist because "both of them spent almost two decades in the pews of the Reverend Jeremiah Wright's church listening to his rants against America and white people." The irony: There was a search during the 2008 campaign for video proof that the Obamas had been in the pews during the most offensive Wright sermons, but everyone came up dry, leading many people to conclude that, rather than being inculcated, Obama simply didn't go to church that much.

David Weigel is a reporter for Bloomberg Politics

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