Digby has a good post up. As an aside, a way out aside, I'm listening to Chuck. E. Weiss. Yes, that Chuck E. Ian will be hip to it, so will many others. Now back to Digby & the racist ReThugs & the 2006 election.
And then there's Senator George Felix "Macaca" Allen. He's just a stone racist, but I think it's worth noting nonetheless that he knew he could play the race card among his supporters in "the real world" of Virginia. You didn't have to know what "macaca" meant to know what he was saying (and I would guess that more than a few of his supporters know very well what it meant.) His face in that video shows a barely leashed anger, the tight smile, the sarcastic edge --- and his supporters all got the point, laughing and tittering at his nasty little aside. Nobody has asked what purpose it served for Allen to point out this guy videotaping the event in the first place. I assume Allen's supporters thought he was with the campaign not with Webb, and even if they did I doubt they would have thought much about it. But Allen, either out of personal pique or political calculation (or both) brought this lone dark-skinned person to the attention of his audience and identified him with the opposition. He did that for a reason and I suspect it's because the word has gone forth that race is on the table in this election. (The fact that he's even more braindead than Bush is what did him in --- he pulled it on a guy who was videotaping him. Jesus.)
This is happening because the Republicans are on the run and they have to pull out all the stops to GOTV. Mostly, however, I think it's an attempt to neutralize Katrina. Let's face it, there is nothing the Republicans can do to improve their image when it comes to their performance last September. It was a national disgrace and we are going to relive the whole awful scene in living color on the first anniversary. Their only hope is to stoke enough under-the-radar racial resentment to mitigate the damage. I suspect they have been thinking about this for the past year and carefully laying out all the little racist signposts we've been seeing over the past few months.
Katrina remains very damaging for Republicans unless they can find some way to kick in the racist lizard brain. They are very good at tickling the primitive, tribal side of human nature --- in fact, that's all they are good at. Subtly and not so subtly playing the race card is one of their specialties and I think it's pretty much all they have left in their hand to play this time out. (Immigration is another racial card for this cycle although I think it's really aimed at '08.)
The question will be whether there are still enough of the old school racists left who will recoil at the idea of the uppity Conyers and Rangel in power. And it remains to be seen whether they can find a way to touch once again that deep, unexamined part of the American psyche that Katrina revealed --- not hatred, but fear of African Americans. Fear, after all, is the GOP's stock in trade.