The last time Toure, the host of MSNBC's "The Cycle," got into trouble with racial stuff, he ended up apologizing. He had accused Mitt Romney of engaging in what he termed the "N-word-ization" of President Obama, a term that he conceded "muddied" the discussion of the presidential race.
In a recent slam on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), Toure appeared to have learned from his "N-word-ization" moment: He now feathers his racial material with accountability-nixing insinuation. That's what Toure used earlier this week on "The Cycle," as he unfurled a monologue portraying McCain as a lame, fading and disaffected politician who is using attacks on U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, a black woman, as a means of maintaining relevance. Rice is a White House favorite to replace Hillary Clinton as secretary of state, and she has drawn all manner of criticism from McCain for her handling of the administration's message in the aftermath of the Benghazi tragedy.
Have a look at the expertise that Toure deploys in preemptive damage control:
[McCain] also gave us the horrible optics of he and Lindsey Graham as old, white, establishment folks wrongly and repeatedly attacking a much younger black woman moments after an election in which blacks and women went strongly blue. Looks like the GOP is already laying the foundation for losing in 2016. I leave it to you to decide how much of the tarring of Rice as incompetent and unqualified is about the myth of black inferiority and female inferiority, and how much is about McCain flailing at anyone within arm's reach, desperate for a dinghy, as he feels himself sinking, descending down the ladder of power, dropping toward irrelevance.
Put to a side the wretched and overheated writing behind Toure's rant.
Have a careful look at the cowardly, suggestive approach to racial attackage in Toure's presentation. They're old tricks, actually. Instead of merely calling McCain an out-and-out racist, he slips into political-analyst mode and focuses on the "optics" of a white GOP man criticizing a black woman. And how about the trick at the very end of his riff? Either McCain is racist and sexist or a pathetic old man -- you decide which one! Hey, Toure, you're the expert -- why don't you tell the viewers?
Mediaite's Noah Rothman has furnished a handy rundown of a Friday Twitter contest between Toure and the Daily Beast/Fox News personality Kirsten Powers over this very matter. The gist lines up as follows. Powers: McCain supported black secretaries of state in the past, so why even bring race into the discussion? Toure: McCain used the term "not very bright" in reference to Rice.
Toure appears eager to enjoy the delights of raising a scandalous prospect without exactly alleging it. It's a journalistic sin that rises to felony when the alleged wrongdoing at the center of it all is racism, about the most toxic charge you can level at a politician. If Toure wants to call McCain a racist, he should marshal his evidence, make the charge in plain terms, then handle the blowback. If he doesn't have the evidence for the charge, keep all the elliptical suggestions of racism out of the conversation.