Race watch: Now they’ve even got Kevin Drum!


Why can’t our favorite simply come out and say whatever he’s saying: Now they’ve even got Kevin Drum, sanest guy on the planet or even on the plantation!

In this post, Drum discusses the ludicrous complaint from Virginia—the complaint about smaller communities in the state getting outvoted by larger communities. Refusing to say what he has on his mind, Kevin instead offers this:
DRUM (1/25/13): Ah, yes. All of Virginia's "more densely populated areas" are outvoting them. I wonder who they could possibly be talking about? That's a real chin scratcher.
Every good pseudo-liberal knows what Drum’s saying. He’s saying this is all about race!

As it certainly could be, of course—in whole or in part. But how odd! It’s now us liberals who skulk around, winking and mincing and speaking in code where race is concerned—refusing to come out and say whatever it is we mean.

The race men used to talk this way. Now the race men are us!

Why can’t Kevin speak more directly? We’ll take a guess:

Drum can’t make a direct accusation because it’s very hard to make an assertion about Virginia state senator Charles Carrico, the little-known pol whose silly comment is being widely quoted. (Kevin seems to think his name is Bill Carrico. For our earlier post on this topic, just click here.)

Is Carrico a racist? A race man? Is he mad because his district’s white voters are getting outvoted by minority voters? We’ll take a (very easy) guess:

Our favorite analyst doesn’t know! We’ll guess that Kevin never heard Carrico’s name (first or last) name until about ten minutes ago. He has no way of knowing how much Carrico may or may not be a race man—unless we assert, as an article of pseudo-liberal faith, that “those people” are all like that!

Is Carrico a race man? We have no idea. But we’ve now consulted his leading biographer, where we came up with this:
WIKIPEDIA: Charles William "Bill" Carrico, Sr. (born November 6, 1961, in Marion, Virginia) is an American politician in the Republican Party. He is currently a member of the Senate of Virginia, representing the 40th District. Carrico's campaign for Senate was heavily financed by coal mining interests such as Alpha Natural Resources, Consol Energy and Richard Baxter Gilliam.
Is Carrico a race man? Why can’t we say that he’s a stooge who’s in the employ of Big Coal? Why can’t we write our novel like this:

Big Coal is looking for a way to stop losing the state of Virginia!

That might not explain the clowning either. But why do we hint and mince about a motive when we so plainly don’t know?

We’ve said it before, we’ll say it again: It often seems like the race card is the only political play our team knows. It’s cheap, it’s dumb and it’s very stupid. And did we mention how cheap it is, especially in the face of the racial martyrs who played the game on such a transcendent moral plane? Who played it that way and won?

It’s also the face of the pseudo-lib world. It helps explain why we’ve been so hapless for so long out in the political world.

What explains the clowning in Virginia? Inquiring minds don’t seem to want to know! It's so easy to drop the bomb, to run the ball off-tackle.

Final note: Turning this into an unwinnable fight about racial motives is an excellent way to lose.


  1. Your point taken, Mr. S. But I'd also insist that separating out racist from economic motives is very difficult, especially when the plutocrats or their servants (including people who are themselves, say, African-American or Indian-American) are always ready to exploit racist feelings (latent or overt) in their targeted audiences.
    That said, much more should be written and disseminated on the plutocratic dynamics at work in our polity. And on the way plutocracy deploys racism as a tool in its arsenal.

  2. A more direct analysis:

    1. Bob Somerby vs. Charles Pierce.

      Bob: "What explains the clowning in Virginia? Inquiring minds don’t seem to want to know! It's so easy to drop the bomb, to run the ball off-tackle."

      Charles: "By the way, before someone asks, to hell with what's in his heart. By his works I shall know him and, by his works, 'Bill' Carrico's plan is racist."

      Bob unknowingly entered a battle of wits and was revealed to be only half-armed.

  3. I think there are new dog whistles available today.

    The neo-cons are crying about the "urban dwellers" that consume scarce resources while being paid only to provide urban services to each other.
    Parasites, really.

    They are taking these scarce resources out of the mouths of "rural dwellers' who actually rip wealth from the earth by the sweat of their brows.

    For "urban dwellers", read "Blue State Democrats."

    The good guys coincidentally, happen to be "Red State Republicans."

    The movement to split the Electoral College votes by Congressional District uses this new wedge to divide Americans into smaller, more manageable groups.

    Eldridge Gerry lives on.

    1. Huzzah, Sirrah!

    2. You are right, in a way, gravymeister. These black districts have been gerrymandered. But, the perpetrators included liberals who purposely created districts with majority of blacks so that blacks would be elected to Congress.

    3. Amen, gravy. And please note that this new movement to proportion electoral college votes exists only in those states carried by Obama and controlled by Republican legislators.

      Out here in Missouri, which went to Romney, there is no such movement afoot.

  4. The best part of your piece was when you highlighted an important fact that Drum could have easily and directly said. As a enormous long-time fan of your work, your work is almost always (but not always) better when you focus on what could have been done better in your critiques than in the criticism.

    In fact, it almost seems that you might benefit from tweaking one of the old "internet traditions" of Daniel Davies/Elton Beard to make it your own. But instead of "Shorter Kevin Drum", you could call it "Better Kevin Drum"

    The downside is that in more than a few cases, you might end up with blog entries like:

    "Better Maureen Dowd:

    'Maureen Dowd is off today.'"

    But it would be an interesting exercise to focus more on what should have been written rather than critiquing the mess of what was actually written and would have the potential to move dialogues in important ways. For criticism to be most effective, it helps to provide the map to improvement.

  5. Carrico's plan is mostly just a simple partisan trick and has very little to do with racism - he is just looking for ways for his party's candidate to win even if he does not have a majority of votes.

    Carrico's backing by coal interests is also irrelevant to this particular legislative trick. The fact is that Carrico is backed by coal interests and it is also a fact that Republican politicians in Virginia and all southern states appeal fairly blatantly to racism in white voters. Now would it be politically smarter to go after Carrico and Republicans on the basis of their racism or by claiming that Carrico is a tool of big coal? I don't know about this - Republican politicians in coal states generally don't hide their favoritism for coal because coal employs lots of people there. In the 2012 election Republicans actually tried another trick in swing states like Virginia and Ohio, claiming that Obama's EPA was killing the coal industry and its jobs, although if coal is being cut back is is mostly because of the growth of natural gas by fracking.

    Carrico's trick would presumably be approved by Republican voters in Virginia on racist grounds as well as partisan grounds, so Drum's comment is not completely off-base.

  6. Calling out racism may not be the best partisan political strategy or even a winning strategy, but it is an important strategy in the fight against racism. Is everyone just supposed to pretend that racism doesn't exist? Should we go back to "segregation", which was a euphemism for white supremacy? LBJ passed the Civil Rights Act even though he knew very well that it was another step in losing the South to Republicans.

    Racism is not gone but the fight is being won.

    1. Over-using the term, or claiming racism incorrectly cheapens the term, and undermines the fight against it.

    2. At the same time, not calling clear attempts to suppress minority votes "racism" because of some cockeyed notion that we shouldn't "overuse" the term is cowardice.

  7. This is delicious,

    "Kevin seems to think his name is Bill Carrico."

    Three paragraphs later:

    "WIKIPEDIA: Charles William "Bill" Carrico, Sr. (born November 6, 1961, in Marion, Virginia) is an American politician in the Republican Party."