Douthat finally notices that no matter what the McCain campaign (or anyone else who doesn't support Barack Obama) says or does this election cycle, he or she will be called a racist. That's because liberals think of liberalism as the definition of goodness.
Since they know conservatives don't espouse liberalism, they think conservatives must be somehow corrupted by some other external force that keeps the conservative from expressing his inner liberal.
That is partly why sex scandals among Republicans (not all of whom are actually conservative) get so much attention: it reinforces to liberals that Republicans (and by extension, conservatives) are all, or substantially, deviants suffering from repression of sexual gratification. Oddly, liberals typically don't see anything wrong with the behavior itself, as long as one shouts it from the rooftops.
Similarly, liberals see Republican financial corruption as greed luring what would otherwise be a fine and good person away from liberalism, corrupted by evil corporate interests.
And finally, to Douthat's problem: liberals charge Republicans generally and conservatives specifically with racism because racism explains to the liberal why anyone would be against the obvious goodness of robbing Peter to pay Paul. Never mind the obvious injustice to Paul; there are for more Peters, and each Peter gets to vote at least once.
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