Racial stereotypes are perhaps the most pernicious of all hidden racism, and the data dump released this weekend on Herman Cain plays to the most vile of human impulses.
The headline allegation is that Cain engaged in sexual harassment. The rest of the story is that there is nothing to the charge and Cain is the victim of a racial smear.
The fact that a media that gave a former president of the United States a free pass in the blue-dress incident and the resulting perjury over the meaning of the word “is” can in good conscience report an obvious political fabrication is disgusting.
The fact that most people only read the headlines in their inbox without reading the rest of the story is politically damaging.
The fact that Geraldo Rivera, he of Al Capone’s-empty-vault fame, was on the air on Fox News demanding that Cain call into his show to address the charges indicates that elites on both sides of the aisle fear that Cain will defeat their anointed one.
The reprehensible act of fabricating a sexual-discrimination charge to generate headlines that play on presumed deeply held racial fears is the ultimate act of desperation, and whoever is responsible for the leak should be drummed out of politics forever.
I don’t know who is responsible for this racially tinged data-dump, but I do know that whoever it is has no place in American politics.
It is suspicious to this Republican Party observer that former Bush political adviser Karl Rove is pumping the story for all it’s worth. Given the presumption in Republican circles that Rove was responsible for the anti-Rick Perry data dump, it is not unreasonable to wonder if he is behind this latest sneak attack — all the while playing the “independent” commentator declaring Cain’s doom on various news outlets.
It was my hope that we had come a long way from the unsubstantiated, politically motivated smear on Clarence Thomas, and that this nonsense had been cast into the trash heap of his history.
Until someone is fired and loses their career over this overt racial attack, no one will be deterred from traveling down this path in the future.
Let me emphasize that I am not endorsing any candidate with this piece. I just think that in 2011, America should be better than this kind of blatant smear. And we need to demand that our politicians hold themselves to a higher ethical standard when their campaigns release information that is factually inaccurate and racially divisive.

The author is a former Bush administration official and former outreach director for Rep. J.C. Watts Jr. at the House Republican Conference.