Obama may be a "post-racial" figure, but there is still a significant slice of the electorate that has never gotten past his skin color.This strikes me as an important concession that there's a virtually unprecedented and potentially dangerous factor in the national political mix as the result of Obama's election that has nothing to do with his policies. Whether the racist fringe is "significant," "minor," or "not...decisive" (all different things; Chapman seems a bit conflicted) begs the question of whether conservatives and Republicans must become vigilant about repudiating rhetoric and tactics designed to attract and perhaps even inflame racists.
For anyone who regards blacks as irredeemably alien or inferior, Obama is a nightmare, not just because he is black but because he so thoroughly confounds racist stereotypes.But that's a minor factor, not a decisive one. It is Obama's party and policies that are the real source of the opposition.
It's a difficult problem for any candidate. Political coalitions and blocs of voters are assembled across a broad spectrum. A Republican candidate knows that she gets votes from pro-choice fiscal conservatives and gun show attendees with Confederate flags and Birther bumper stickers on their pickups. The Democrat gets votes from world-government lefties and suburban moderates. Neither candidate wants to offend the fringe. The Townhall e-mail itself reflects the tension, presenting Chapman's column as well as a picture of Obama that is obviously intended to make him look like Nation of Islam security guard.
Let's be perfectly clear about this stuff. Appeals to the racist fringe are unacceptable. The racist fringe is unacceptable. Responsible Republicans should condemn it, and candidates should say they don't want their votes. You know who did it in 1962? Richard Nixon, when he spurned the Birchers. It helped him lose the California governor's election that year. But it couldn't be helped. It needed to be done. As a matter of fact, the propriety of the move notwithstanding, it prepared the GOP for the mainstream. It's time to get out the Nixon playbook again.