Quotes of the day

Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) declined even to wade into the discussion [of whether the Tea Party is racist] on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

I am not interested in getting into that debate … I have got better things to do than to wade in to all of these disputes and discussions that are going on out in the country,” McConnell said…

“I think it’s slanderous to suggest the vast movement of citizens who have gotten off the couch and showed up at town hall meetings and tea party events, somehow to smear them with this label, there’s just no basis for it,” [John] Cornyn said [on Meet the Press].

Can you imagine the reaction of the press and public if Obama responded to slanders against his conservative critics with such a bighearted defense of their right to dissent, while even praising their idealism?

Politically, an Obama defense of the tea party would cost him nothing while delivering big benefits. His liberal base would never desert him on this issue. Even the embattled leaders of the NAACP could praise his healing, unifying leadership, particularly if it involved an invitation to a big White House meeting — a highly publicized “summit” — to sit down with some of the constitutionalist protesters they’ve accused of racial bias…

Most important, Obama could show the country that he can, after all, accept disagreement and criticism without the immature instinct of blaming someone else — targeting his perennial whipping boy, George W. Bush, or greedy capitalists, or racist demagogues who oppose him simply because of his dark skin and Arabic middle name.