[Hat tip: Drew M. at Ace's.]
Jonathan Chait offers a couple of howlers in his piece at NY Magazine, beginning with the beginning:
Mitt Romney’s plan of blatantly lying about President Obama’s “you didn’t build that” speech is clearly drawing blood.
A blatant lie on Chait’s part about the topic of blatant lies.
To review once again: the meaning of “that” in Obama’s phrase “you didn’t build that” was ambiguous. Romney’s original take—that Obama meant “your successful business”—is the obvious one, not a lie. It’s the Democrat defense that requires the listener to struggle to give it the preferred meaning of “roads and bridges” (including the fact that the word “that” is singular and would not ordinarily be applied to the “roads and bridges” the Democrats claim it does). And of course, as so many (including Romney) have correctly said, whether the quote meant businesses or whether it meant roads and bridges, the context is mostly a repetition of the idea that successful business owners are not primarily responsible for their own success.
Chait and Obama and others on the left know how damaging that fact is. But they are hoping that their own lies will convince the people who are too lazy to look up the full context that it is Romney who’s lying.
But Chait doesn’t stop there. He says the reason the charge against Obama is working is that he was speaking in black dialect at the time, and of course his opponents are capitalizing on racism.
No, that’s not a joke. Here it is:
The key thing is that Obama is angry, and he’s talking not in his normal voice but in a “black dialect.” This strikes at the core of Obama’s entire political identity: a soft-spoken, reasonable African-American with a Kansas accent. From the moment he stepped onto the national stage, Obama’s deepest political fear was being seen as a “traditional” black politician, one who was demanding redistribution from white America on behalf of his fellow African-Americans.
To a man with a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
By the way—not that it matters—I don’t think Chait is using the word “dialect” correctly (even if his premise were correct, which it is not). He is speaking of affect, not dialect. Be that as it may, the only possible racism I see here is Chait’s own.