Who do you think won the debate/discussion between Jonathan Chait and Melissa Harris-Perry?
I call it as a split decision. Chait won on style (his interlocutor never got her bearings fully back after the opening counter punch). Perry won on substance.
We now have some closure on Jonathan Chait's feud with Ta-Nehisi Coates and then "blow off" match essay on race in the Age of Obama.
Chait appeared on Melissa Harris-Perry's MSNBC show this morning. Chait is a trickster: he authored an essay which says everything--however incorrect and inaccurate The Color of His Presidency's "analysis" and conclusions--that he in fact believes while then positioning said author to deny, obfuscate, and double talk his claims on national television.
Returning to my framework and suggestion that politics is professional wrestling, Chait's interview on Perry's show was a masterful performance and run. He played the heel and then acted like the hurt and offended party on Perry's TV show. Great villains are typified by a sense of their own persecution and grievance by and towards an unjust world. Jonathan Chait channeled that energy perfectly. I applaud the routine.
For my taste, Perry was too nice and polite. I was hoping that she would simply ask him about the "terrifying" power held by those who are truth-tellers about white supremacy over those poor, aggrieved, white conservatives.
Her opening promo was an interesting choice as Chait's words are his own undoing, and thus expose his facile thinking. Why not simply pick out a few of the most bizarre claims from his essay The Color of His Presidency and let him fall all over himself defending them?
Moreover, she was pulling her punches by avoiding the "boring" social science stuff and could have easily stated that Chait is using the research literature to support his claims in a very superficial way. To point, one of the repeated findings about white racial attitudes and conservative ideology is precisely how anti-black affect and symbolic racism influences positions on seemingly "race neutral" policy matters.
White supremacy is not an opinion, it is a fact. White supremacy also influences how white folks process empirical reality. Chait's false equivalency game is one more data point in support of the latter claim.