A few months into Barack Obama's presidency, then-Fox News host Glenn Beck created quite a stir when he took to his network's air to call the new president a "racist" with "a deep-seated hatred for white people."
This past weekend, a little more than five years after Beck's misstep, frequent Fox News guest, CBS News contributor and Guy Who's Famous for Saying "Bueller?" Ben Stein repeated the trick, but the result isn't likely to be in any way similar. In a segment on Fox's America's News HQ Sunday, Stein took aim at President Obama and Attorney General Eric Holder:
"It's all a way to racialize voting in this country. This president is the most racist president there has ever been in America. He is purposely trying to use race to divide Americans.
"[Eric Holder] is a guy who, every time there is any kind of issue in the law, he says it's racism by the white police, the white police are beating up on the poor black people. That's just nonsense. And even if it were true, we don't know that the police are Republicans."
Did Ben Stein really just humblebrag about sitting next to a black guy on an airplane?
Five years ago, Beck's assertion was shocking, but the ensuing blizzard of deranged opposition to Obama, combined with a relentless campaign to normalize the idea that calling people racist is the real racism, have rendered the sentiment just another "side" in a "debate" about "polarization." Stein isn't nearly the star that Beck was, but he is a paid contributor for a major broadcast network, and I doubt very much that this will result in even a hiccup in that employment. It matters even less that Stein's assertions are completely false. I've personally watched this president and his spokesmen asked dozens of times about the economy and black people, and every time answer that he's the president for all Americans. When the president has talked about race, it has been mainly in the context of social policy, not economic.
Holder, meanwhile, has been notably silent in claiming that roving gangs of Republican police have been beating up black people.
Elsewhere in the segment, though, Stein said something that no amount of time and effort can make less insane. No, I'm not talking about the well-worn claim that Republicans are "the most pro-black party there has ever been" because they supported civil rights fifty years ago. That's like selling Yankees tickets with a "Murderers' Row" poster, It was this jaw-dropper:
"The Republicans are the ones who save this economy, not the ones that ruined this economy."
My apologies to your beverage and your keyboard. The economy that was losing 750,000 jobs a month when President Obama took office, that has just now recovered to an unemployment rate below six percent from a high of over ten percent, the economy that crashed after eight years of a Republican presidency, was saved by Republicans. To the extent that they did "support" the policies that saved the economy, Republicans did it by keeping the stimulus small enough and tax-cutty enough to make that recovery take much longer.
By today's standards, I suppose Stein could be seeking credit for Republicans for not blocking the president from saving the economy, but you don't usually give an arsonist kudos for putting down the matches.