Arts editor/columnist Frank Rich's latest Week in Review screed, "If Terrorists Rock the Vote in 2008 " contains anti-GOP claims that are ludicrous even for as excitable a personality as Rich, the paper's former drama critic. In a feat that will earn him a standing ovation from leftist readers, RichparsesKarl Rove's recent comments mocking Barack Obama for resembling a country-club elitist, and finds...racism.
[Social conservative James] Dobson's embarrassing lashing out is the last gasp of an era. His dying breed of family-values scold is giving way to a new and independent generation of evangelical leaders (and voters) who don't march to the partisan beat of Mr. Rove or his one-time ally, the disgraced Ralph Reed. Perhaps in belated recognition of this reality, Mr. Rove has been busy lately developing a new fear card for 2008 - fear of the Obamas.
Its racial undertones are naked enough. Earlier this year, Mr. Rove wrote that Mr. Obama was "often lazy," and that his "trash talking" during a debate was "an unattractive carry-over from his days playing pickup basketball at Harvard." Last week Mr. Rove caricatured him as the elitist "guy at the country club with the beautiful date." Provocative as it is to inject Mr. Obama into a setting historically associated with white Republicans, the invocation of that "beautiful date" is even more so. Where's his beautiful wife? Mr. Rove's suggestion that Mr. Obama might be a sexual freelancer, as an astute post at the Web site Talking Points Memo noted, could conjure up for a certain audience the image of "a white woman on his arm."
National Review Online's Mark Hemingway lays into Rich's "disjointed and dishonest column ," saying "In order to call Rove a racist here, you have toengage in contortions not seen outside Cirque du Soleil."
Earlier in the piece, Rich had railed against social conservative leader James Dobson, and in an equally impressive bit of contortion, said Dobson's use of the word "fruitcake" was an anti-gay slur.
Mr. McCain is trying to swing both ways. While he no longer refers to the aging old-guard cranks of the religious right as "agents of intolerance ," his actions, starting with his tardy disowning  of the endorsement he sought from the intolerant Rev. John Hagee, sometimes speak as loudly as his past words.
The Ohio operative behind that state's 2004 anti-same-sex marriage campaign was so alienated by Mr. McCain's emissaries this year that he told The Los Angeles Times , "He doesn't want to associate with us, and we don't want to associate with him." Mr. McCain instead associated himself with Ellen DeGeneres. He visited her talk show to extend his good wishes for her forthcoming California nuptials while seeming almost chagrined  to admit his opposition to same-sex marriage, a stand he shares with Mr. Obama. Since then, Mr. McCain has met with  the gay Log Cabin Republicans.
He and Mr. Obama also share the antipathy of James Dobson, the Focus on the Family fulminator so avidly courted by the Bush White House. Perhaps best remembered for linking  the cartoon character SquareBob SpongePants to a 'pro-homosexual video,' Mr. Dobson last week used the word 'fruitcake' in a rant  against Mr. Obama. He has been nearly as dyspeptic, if not quite as 'fruit'-fixated, about Mr. McCain.
Rich can only be purposely misleading his readers. Here's what Dobson really said, according to the Associated Press:
As Barack Obama broadens his outreach to evangelical voters, one of the movement's biggest names, James Dobson, accuses the likely Democratic presidential nominee of distorting the Bible and pushing a "fruitcake interpretation" of the Constitution.
That's ananti-gay slurin the same way thatfruitcake tastes like fruit.