I wrote a column this week about a blog topic — Arkansas native Audra Shay’s race forleadership of the National Federation of Young Republicans. I was interested because 1) it was a story that wouldn’t exist but for the Internet and 2) it highlights the difficulties Republicans face in putting old habits on race and other social issues behind them.

Now comes Marc Ambinder, who influentially marks the Republican sparrow’s fall for The Atlantic, with some analysis along the same lines and some new information. It would appear there’s some social network gay bashing on Shay’s record as well. Ambinder writes that this story is small potatoes to the outside world, but not so small within party circles and a debate with some broader significance.

Here’s why Republicans should take this seriously. A double standard exists in American politics. Republicans have much less of a margin for error when it comes to making racially insensitive remarks. That may be fair, given the party’s recent history (not its most recent history, but its Southern strategy history), or it may not be, but it exists, and it’s a given, and Republicans who feel they ought not be judged by a different standard might as well move to a different country.

…The YRNF presidential race is a microcosm of the internal debates the party is having throughout the country.