The quality of the men
The new face of the Black
Is the GOP the Black Man's Party?
Sure, but you have to sit at the back of the bus
by David Weigel
YOU DOWN WITH GOP? Bill Frist with the Coalition of African-American Pastors
Ken Mehlman's ability to spin a crowd is legendary: He fires off Republican talking points like Yul Brenner's Westworld robot—rhetorical six guns smoking. And while Mehlman, the RNC chairman, must have been at least somewhat daunted by the icy audience that awaited his July 2005 address to the NAACP, he certainly didn't show it. Addressing an audience of people who'd worked their bones raw for John Kerry, he told them that the Republican Party was happy to welcome them into the fold.
"Already, seven African-American men and women are looking hard at running for statewide office as Republicans," Mehlman bragged. "Two for U.S. Senate in Maryland and Michigan, two for governor in Ohio and Pennsylvania. The treasurer in Ohio, the auditor of Vermont, and the supreme court justice of Texas are all African-American Republicans likely to seek re-election in 2006. If 1992 was the year of the woman, 2006 could be the year of the African-American Republican."
The transcript doesn't record how many NAACP members Mehlman managed to win over—the auditor of Vermont? Maybe we shall overcome!—but his message certainly impressed the media, who scurried off to write countless articles about the GOP attempt to usurp the Democrats' most loyal voter base. Caught up in the excitement, USA Today's Jill Lawrence fitted the strategy with a cowboys-and-indians metaphor: Mehlman was going "raiding" while the Democrats desperately defended their turf.
"I very much regret that Mr. Butler could not be here tonight," Blackwell advisor Eric Seabrook told the crowd, eulogizing the fallen Michigan candidate. "We need to work to build the Republican Party, but we also need to hold the Republican Party accountable."
Seabrook didn't need to elaborate. Everybody knows that Ohio Republicans aren't throwing their weight behind Blackwell in the gubernatorial election, and that the marquee moneymen have slapped Do Not Resuscitate stickers on him and Lynn Swann. Long-shot congressional candidate Ada Fisher had even harsher words for the GOP: "Sure, the national party will 'support' black candidates. They just won't give them any money!"
Activists who've worked hands-on with the national party have said the same thing. Earlier this year Rev. William Owens, the head of the Bush-backing Coalition of African-American Pastors, publicly complained to conservative activist Paul Weyrich that the GOP was backing out of promises to elect more black candidates, observing, "For us, it is still the back of the bus where the Republican Party is concerned."
A prime example is a radio ad written by the National Black Republican Association, a group that, unlike the Coalition of African-American Pastors, is officially linked with the GOP. Two anonymous black women discuss the merits of the party of Bush by tearing up the Democrats' record on civil rights ("Democrats released those vicious dogs and fire hoses on blacks") and re-living the glory days of the 1860s ("Republicans freed us from slavery"). The underlying question of the radio ad's content is: Why should Republicans have to prove ourselves to black voters?
Short answer: Because black voters haven't even met you before. According to Tony Williams, a city council candidate in Washington, D.C., the GOP is hopeless in statewide races like Ohio's because it thinks it can inspire black voters with an aggressive, top-down pitch. If black Republicans started competing for local offices, like school boards and city halls, where Democrats have dominated since the 1960s, they would establish far greater inroads toward stealing a traditional Democratic base.
"You don't go to the voters and press the fact that you're a Republican," says Williams, the son of Fox News' liberal pundit Juan Williams. "You contest these local elections, in these cities where Republicans don't compete. You talk about crime and education and taxes; you get elected. And after you serve a few terms, voters step back and realize, 'I know this guy, I like this guy, he works on the problems I want solved, and he's a Republican? Well, maybe I'm a Republican.'"
And Tony Williams and his Fox House Bitch dad should know better.
You know, there's a ton of articles saying that black people consider being smart is akin to being white, which is bullshit for the most part, but Republican? You might as well jump up and start tap dancing.
You won't get those few terms because you have to buck and scrape to be accepted in the GOP and black people have no respect for that, nor do whites.
Because the character of the people who represent the GOP make most black people ill. Colin Powell managed to keep some of the respect black people had for him because it was SO clear Bush didn't want to hear what he had to say. And Condi Rice may be incompetent, but she has managed to keep her dignity while serving Bush.
Now, I actually kinda respect Robert George, but I knew all I ever needed to know about his character when he seemed frightened of the idea of debating me in a room full of black people. All I said is let's find a group at City College to discuss our ideas, and well, you would think I would have asked him to go with Blackwater to Iraq. Because we both know, in a room full of black adults, he would have been outnumbered 40-200 to 0ne.
I was watching Ron Christie, a former Bush lackey, defend the Administration, and knew, he would be eaten alive running against an Al Wynn, forget Donna Edwards. Why? Because, besides coming off as goofy, a black audience wouldn't accept his bullshit.
But someone needs to state the obvious.
While I think Harold Ford would be a communist if that would launch him towards the White House, there is no question that the UPenn/Michigan Law graduate is both a skilled politician and capable. Barack Obama, a Harvard Law grad, is being pushed to run for President, despite a limited political background.
At the staff and campaign level, the number of bright, capable black Dems would and do fill rooms. Whites like to laugh at Sharpton and Jackson, but few ever ask about the farm teams these people are building, the people they inspire to enter politics.
Even backbenchers like Kendrick Meek have been taking the fight to the floor of the House. The quality and the intellect of black Dems is relatively high. There are no Jesse Lee Petersons or Star Parkers floating around in that world. People who need whites to hold their hands and push them along.
Republicans run second and third raters like Blackwell and Steele and wonder why they get rejected. Blackwell's arrogance is offputing by itself and Steele is just clueless. Swann, the less said the better.
You can't run losers and expect to win.
posted by Steve @ 2:07:00 AM