George Will’s race-based explanation for Obama’s lead: America can’t fire a black man

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Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Conservative newspaper columnist George Will poses on the red carpet upon arrival at a salute to FOX News Channel's Brit Hume on January 8, 2009 in Washington, DC. (Photo by Brendan Hoffman/Getty Images)

Washington Post columnist George Will has a novel explanation for why President Barack Obama continues to lead challenger Mitt Romney in the polls: it’s because Obama is black.

Seriously, that’s Will’s reasoning.

The idea is this: the country, its economy, and the Obama administration are in “shambles,” to quote Will. Unemployment is at 8 percent. Durable goods orders are down! And who among us doesn’t hinge our vote on the metric of durable goods? Tesla Motors isn’t doing well — TESLA! — despite a major cash infusion from the Department of Energy, and as we all know, as goes Tesla, so goes the nation. Therefore, Romney should be mopping the floor with Obama.

So why isn’t Mitt ahead in the polls? Will’s explanation starts with his favorite metaphor: baseball…

A significant date in the nation’s civil rights progress involved an African American baseball player named Robinson, but not Jackie. The date was Oct. 3, 1974, when Frank Robinson, one the greatest players in history, was hired by the Cleveland Indians as the major leagues’ first black manager. But an even more important milestone of progress occurred June 19, 1977, when the Indians fired him. That was colorblind equality.

Managers get fired all the time. The fact that the Indians felt free to fire Robinson — who went on to have a distinguished career managing four other teams — showed that another racial barrier had fallen: Henceforth, African Americans, too, could enjoy the God-given right to be scapegoats for impatient team owners or incompetent team executives.

And how is Barack Obama like Jackie Robinson? I think you can guess:

…That Obama is African American may be important, but in a way quite unlike that darkly suggested by, for example, MSNBC’s excitable boys and girls who, with their (at most) one-track minds and exquisitely sensitive olfactory receptors, sniff racism in any criticism of their pin-up. Instead, the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president.

Will calls his theory a “pleasant paradox.” I think a more fitting term for it is unpleasant paternalism. In fact, it’s an especially noxious kind of patronizing, race-obsessed paternalism Will has perfected over the years.

It’s easy to understand Will’s frustration. His wife, Mari Maseng, was a consultant to the failed Rick Perry presidential campaign, specializing in, of all things, debate prep (and we all know how that worked out, I think the closing line for Gov. Perry was “oops…”) But Will’s insistence that race is the be all and end all of Barack Obama’s political success is ironic, given Will’s stated belief that it is the left that devolves every issue down to color and creed.

Turns out it’s George Will who seems to see the bogeyman of blackness around every corner, and under every bed. He was among those on the right who in 2008 couldn’t think of a reason lifelong Republican and George W. Bush secretary of state Collin Powell would endorse Obama in 2008, other than race. Will projected a two-for-one Election Night vote bonanza for Obama, because in his view, America was eager to make itself feel good by voting for the black guy — a plummeting economy, an unsteady John McCain, with no less than the erratic Sarah Palin by his side, not to mention an aggressive and expertly-run Obama campaign apparently having nothing to do with the outcome of that presidential contest.

During the current election cycle, Will determined that the most significant thing about Herman Cain winning a Florida straw poll during the Republican primary was Cain’s race (and the supposedly explosive effect Mr. 999’s blackness had on liberals).