Paul Ryan's new book is good, except on race

Still, Ryan opens himself up to needless criticism when he writes how Republicans can make inroads with communities of color. I’ve long defended Ryan from people who say he’s some kind of dog-whistling racist who doesn’t care about people of color. Having been his friend for more than 20 years, I know that nothing could be further from the truth. And yet when Ryan discusses his early efforts to reach out to the black community in his home district, which he did mostly by going to predominately black churches, I couldn’t help but wince.

“It’s a different deal at a black church, of course,” Ryan observes. “And if anyone’s faith ever needs perking up, that’s the place to go. I always tried to get into the spirit of things with dancing, clapping, and singing out in the pews. It was a small mercy in 2012 that no videotapes of my dancing ever surfaced.”

Of course Ryan should meet with his constituents, but come on, Paul. The fact is, many people will question your sincerity if you just keep going to black churches in search of black votes. When I worked for President Bush and Vice President Cheney, I offered them both a simple message which I know they both took to heart: don’t treat black people like black people. Treat them like concerned citizens worried about jobs, their children and the future of the country. The minute you start showing up in churches and talking about welfare and the like, you sound as if you are talking down to people based on the color of their skin.