Speed Reads

Foot, meet mouth

Top Democrat Steve Israel: 'Not all' Republicans are racist

Top Democrat Steve Israel: 'Not all' Republicans are racist

A free piece of advice to the politicians out there: Never, ever insinuate offhandedly that a swath of your opposition is motivated by latent racial animus. Short of ironclad proof — say, footage of your opponents admitting to being gigantic, unabashed racists — the claim sounds accusatory and defensive.

Yet Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Steve Israel (N.Y.) stumbled into that no-no Sunday on CNN's State of the Union.

Host Candy Crowley asked, "Do you think your Republican colleagues are racist?"

"Not all of them," Israel said. "No, of course not. But to a significant extent, the Republican base does have elements that are motivated by racism."

That is sure to rile up the right, including the very base Israel was pooh-poohing. Remember that many on the right pounced when President Obama said in an interview with The New Yorker earlier this year that, "no doubt that there's some folks who just really dislike me because they don't like the idea of a black president." And that backlash came even though Obama, in the next breath, added that other people gave him "the benefit of the doubt" specifically because he is a black president.

In any event, you can expect a conservative backlash to Israel's comments in three, two, one. --Jon Terbush