"Political cover" is a powerful phenomenon in contemporary politics. But it can make voters plenty cynical about the ways and means of political warfare.
It's typically utilized wherever a well-known progressive Democrat speaks or acts outside of permissible lines, i.e., crosses the politically correct police with an insensitive (or worse) comment on the public stage.
On such occasions, the mainstream press will duly note the offensive comment. Appropriate, albeit limited, criticism will follow. And then … nothing. The remarks at issue vanish from the daily news cycle.
Some of my left-leaning readers (yes, they exist, if my email traffic is accurate) may object to my premise. Yet, I ask you to take stock of the following beauties:
"I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice looking guy. I mean, that's a storybook, man."
"You cannot go to a 7-11 or a Dunkin' Donuts unless you have a slight Indian accent. I'm not joking."
— Sen. Joe Biden
"[New York City is] Hymies. Hymietown."
[Mahatma Gandhi] "ran a gas station down in Saint Louis."
— Sen. Hillary Clinton
"A handkerchief-head, chicken-and-biscuit-eating Uncle Tom."
(What Malcolm X would supposedly say about Clarence Thomas) –- Spike Lee
"I do not think it is an exaggeration at all to say to my friend from West Virginia [Sen. Robert C. Byrd, a former Ku Klux Klan recruiter] that he would have been a great senator at any moment. ... He would have been right during the great conflict of Civil War in this nation."
— Former Democratic Sen. Christopher Dodd
Some of these are familiar to you, others you may have just read for the first time. And, you will not be surprised to learn, I could fill up my next 50 columns with similar quotes and quips guaranteed to make even the most veteran political operative shudder.
Yet rarely if ever do the opinions expressed have a shelf life. And not even mea culpas are required prior to official forgiveness.
What explains this fascinating syndrome? After all, equally stupid and insensitive remarks from prominent Republicans and conservatives (and there are plenty of examples) are typically followed by anguished, soul searching apologies. Alas, such acts of contrition rarely serve to mitigate the inflicted damage.
This incongruity is explained by two powerful forces.
The first concerns modern progressivism's common denominator: empathy and noble purpose. In this construct, where your heart is really counts. And good intentions tend to outweigh poor results.