Reidblog [The Reid Report blog]

Think at your own risk.
Monday, June 15, 2009
Trapped in Dixie: SC GOP activist compares first lady to gorilla
Dissuade any remaining southern blacks from even thinking about the Republican Party? Check. Disparage the first lady by comparing her to a gorilla? Check, and double check:



And there's more South Carolina racial shenanigans to report...

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posted by JReid @ 12:58 AM  
Sunday, June 14, 2009
The threat, and cause, of Obama Derangement Syndrome
Stipulated that people on my side of the aisle had no love for George W. Bush. But dislike of Bush was different from the current, truly scary, Obama hatred in a couple of significant ways.

First of all, Bush derision was initially based on the 2000 election, which was seen as illegitimate not because people didn't think Dubya eligible to serve as president, say, because he's secretly a foreigner or a Muslim or a terrorist ... but rather because the election was decided by the Supreme Court. After 9/11, even Bush criticism, let alone "bashing" was practically disallowed in public, and pressure was even extended from the deferential media to the entertainment industry. Once the fear of criticizing the president wore off, the lingering dislike (and in some cases hatred) of the former president was based on a collective alarm about such ephemera as his administration's massive domestic spying apparatus, the war against Iraq, which it turns out, was as unnecessary and ideologically driven as it was deadly, not to mention what turns out to have been a policy of American-made torture. In other words: "Bush Derangement" if you want to call it that, was based on a loathing of Bush administration policies. Attitudes toward Bush himself, if you have to characterize them broadly, tend to lean more toward the comical. And while derision of Bush as a dunce bugs those on the right, it's hardly the same chilling talk that derides our current president as tantamount to a Marxist, Socialist, anti-American Muslim terrorist. [Left: a leaflet distributed in Dallas on the day of JFK's assassination. Courtesy of Prose]

Obama hatred is based on something entirely different than Bush hatred: not anger at his policies, but a profound and irrational fear and loathing of the man himself, because of myths -- including some that were generated by Republicans during the 2008 campaign, in some cases to the point of hysteria -- about his background, "associations," plus paranoia about the dastardly things he's really, really planning to do to conservatives, up to and including confiscating their firearms and putting them in concentration camps... And rather than being scorned, minimized (or ignored) by the media, as opposition to Bush often was, especially in the two years between 9/11 and the start of the Iraq war, Obama hatred is being fueled in the hearts of the black helicopter crowd by elements of the influential right. Frank Rich concludes
WHEN a Fox News anchor, reacting to his own network’s surging e-mail traffic, warns urgently on-camera of a rise in hate-filled, “amped up” Americans who are “taking the extra step and getting the gun out,” maybe we should listen. He has better sources in that underground than most. ...

... Obama’s Cairo address, meanwhile, prompted over-the-top accusations reminiscent of those campaign rally cries of “Treason!” It was a prominent former Reagan defense official, Frank Gaffney, not some fringe crackpot, who accused Obama in The Washington Times of engaging “in the most consequential bait-and-switch since Adolf Hitler duped Neville Chamberlain.” He claimed that the president — a lifelong Christian — “may still be” a Muslim and is aligned with “the dangerous global movement known as the Muslim Brotherhood.” Gaffney linked Obama by innuendo with Islamic “charities” that “have been convicted of providing material support for terrorism.”

If this isn’t a handy rationalization for another lone nutjob to take the law into his own hands against a supposed terrorism supporter, what is? Any such nutjob can easily grab a weapon. Gun enthusiasts have been on a shopping spree since the election, with some areas of our country reporting percentage sales increases in the mid-to-high double digits, recession be damned.

The question, Shepard Smith said on Fox last week, is “if there is really a way to put a hold on” those who might run amok. We’re not about to repeal the First or Second Amendments. Hard-core haters resolutely dismiss any “mainstream media” debunking of their conspiracy theories. The only voices that might penetrate their alternative reality — I emphasize might — belong to conservative leaders with the guts and clout to step up as McCain did last fall. Where are they? The genteel public debate in right-leaning intellectual circles about the conservative movement’s future will be buried by history if these insistent alarms are met with silence.

So what is the right overreacting to? Perhaps it's to what they see coming, electorally and demographically:
Democrats have won the popular vote in four of the past five elections, though in one case (2000) they did not end up in the White House. In years in which they have also won the electoral vote, Democrats have racked up sizable margins. Obama bested John McCain by 365 to 173, and Bill Clinton's two victories were in the same range. George W. Bush's two electoral-college victories were narrow; he won 271 votes in the disputed election of 2000 and 286 in his 2004 reelection.

What has brought this about? It's not just one thing -- it's everything. Start with the Democrats' success in the suburbs. Lang's formula is that demography and density have combined to help Democrats: They dominate not just the cities but also the urbanized suburbs that contain the largest share of the suburban population in America.

Democratic strength in the counties around Philadelphia, around Detroit and in Northern Virginia have squeezed Republicans dramatically. Increasingly, Republican strength outside the urban areas counts for less. "There's just not enough rural folks and small-city people left in America in the key states that determine the electoral college to offset that difference," Lang said. "You're out of people."

That's one geographical reality. The other, which became acute in 2008, is that outside the South, Republicans are in trouble. McCain won the South in November, but Obama swept the rest of the country by an even bigger margin. The same pattern holds now for House and Senate seats. Republicans may continue to win governorships in Democratic-leaning states, but in congressional and presidential elections the geographic divides are sizable.

Brownstein reeled off a list of statistics that all arrived at the same place: The South now accounts for a greater share of Republican strength than at virtually any time since the party's founding. That base is too narrow, as even Republicans know.

Demographically, the forces at work have chipped away at what was once a GOP-leaning majority in the country. The most important is minorities' rising share of the vote. Whites accounted for 76 percent of the overall electorate last November, down from 85 percent in 1988.

In the last election, there were more than 2 million additional African American voters, about 2 million more Hispanic voters and about a million more Asian American voters. All are groups in which Obama increased the Democratic share of the vote over 2004. Frey estimated that minority voters in nine states made the difference in Obama's victory margin.

Republicans can't reverse the demographic trends; their only solution is to increase their share of the minority vote. Opposing Judge Sonia Sotomayor, Obama's Supreme Court nominee, because of her pride in being a Latina won't help solve that problem.

... Leading Mike Murphy to predict a coming Republican Ice Age. If you want to see what might be aptly renamed Republican Demographic Panic in action, you need only read anything by increasingly unplugged white nationalist Pat Buchanan.

Of course, not everyone agrees with this analysis, but those who differ had better come up with a good reason Republicans can win nationwide again, short of an absolute Obama meltdown. And while they're at it, they might want to chat with their highest profile people about perhaps not trying to bring about such a meltdown by vilifying the president of the United States in ways that riles up the scariest elements of their base.

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posted by JReid @ 9:33 AM  
Sunday, May 24, 2009
Colin Powell: last man standing
Generalissimo Rush Limbaugh is right. Colin Powell should be the new head of the Republican Party, if for no other reason than the fact that he's just about the only Republican left who's man enough to stand up to Rush Limbaugh. Here's the "Face the Nation" interview in full.

Part one:



Part two:



By the way, isn't it ironic that the GOP's so-called "moderates" are reasonable, intelligent men, who also have served their country in war (both Powell and Tom Ridge served in Vietnam) while their haters, namely Cheney and Limbaugh, were among the quizzling cowards who ducked the draft when it was their time to serve? Coincidence?

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posted by JReid @ 7:06 PM  
Friday, May 08, 2009
When you've lost Joe the Plumber...
A TIME Magazine article states the unthinkable... (and since when doe Joe favor Social Security being "forced on him?" Remember this?



Now, Plumber says he hates GOP spending, but don't touch his old age pension. Huh??? And how long before El Rushbo declares Joe to be a socialist who should be run out of the party?

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posted by JReid @ 2:01 PM  
Shameless self-promotion: my new column up at SFT
A requiem for the dying GOP...

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posted by JReid @ 1:44 PM  
Friday, May 01, 2009
The GOP makes it official: they ARE the party of torture
Top GOP leaders put out a new ad embracing the Bush torture era, Gitmo, and all the other ways their former, failed president, disgraced this country. Watch:



What's shocking is that elected Republicans have now gone on the record as favoring torture, something that up until now, only their radio talking heads, bloggers and neocon "think tankers" have done out loud. Now we can officially call the Republican Party the Party of Torture. Meanwhile, a Republican lawyer makes the latest pro-torture case: waterboarding isn't torture because ... wait for it ... the detainee knows in advance that the interrogators aren't going to kill him (are you listening, Sean Hannity???) Seriously... Writes Daphne Eviatar in the Washington Monthly:

... in a recent conversation I had with Republican lawyer David Rivkin, a former Reagan and first Bush administration official and an outspoken supporter of the second Bush administration’s legal justifications for its interrogation tactics, Rivkin explained the sort of reasoning that former OLC lawyers Bybee, John Yoo and Steven Bradbury were employing.

Rivkin said the authorized “techniques” really didn’t rise to the level of torture or “cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment,” as outlawed by the Convention Against Torture and the U.S. law implementing it, because none of the methods inflicted “severe physical or mental pain or suffering,” as the statute defines torture. One of the statute’s definitions of severe mental suffering, however, is the threat of imminent death. (As Spencer wrote here, Bybee himself wrote that waterboarding involves the threat of imminent death, although he still somehow concluded that it wasn’t torture.)

Well, Rivkin argued, waterboarding and those other techniques couldn’t have been torture, because despite the apparent threat, the detainees knew they weren’t going to get killed.

And how did they know that?

“Assuming even an average level of intelligence, you would have to be an idiot to think that they’re going to kill you,” Rivkin said. “So the fact that you’d be killed deliberately is not a plausible scenario.”

In other words, it's okay to torture someone, as long as they're smart enough to figure out that you're not actually going to kill them. ... huh??? Rivkin's evidence supporting his theory comes from a place you've actually got to read to believe: Soviet gulags. Seriously:

“I’ve read lots of memoirs of people languishing in gulags … One thing that emerges very clearly is actually how, despite their horribly grim circumstances, the prisoners actually welcomed interrogations. As a way to break the oppressive monotony of the cell or working conditions. So they always welcome even the most sadistic and unpleasant interrogators. And to the extent that you’re worried about being shot eventually, during interrogations you’re not worried about that. We’re all fairly rational beings, isn’t that a rational point?”

Wow. This guy hasn't been disbarred yet, huh...?


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posted by JReid @ 11:22 AM  
Thursday, April 30, 2009
Old Republicans behaving newly
Eric Cantor has come up with a bold, new idea: take the same old Republicans who got the party into this mess, and build a brand new organization around them to sell the public on putting them back in power ... with town halls! Brilliant...

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posted by JReid @ 10:10 AM  
Wednesday, April 29, 2009
Re-edit watch: the DSCC's wrecking ball ad
The DSCC's heart was in the right place when it produced this "wrecking ball" ad attacking Republican Senators. But note which Senator they highlighted as "voting against a bill to help struggling homeowners..."



Re-edit!!!

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posted by JReid @ 5:20 PM  
Tuesday, April 28, 2009
The magic Specter theory
Huge! Arlen Specter, author of the "magic bullet theory" and a constant thorn in the side of Dittoheads, is changing teams. Thanks, Michael Steele. And now, realpolitik at work:

"I am unwilling to have my twenty-nine year Senate record judged by the Pennsylvania Republican primary electorate. I have not represented the Republican Party. I have represented the people of Pennsylvania," Specter said in a statement. "I am ready, willing and anxious to take on all comers and have my candidacy for re-election determined in a general election."

... Specter was being challenged by conservative former Lehigh Valley Congressman Pat Toomey, who seized on that vote and others that favored Obama's spending priorities.

... Toomey came within 17,124 votes -- out of more than 1 million cast -- of defeating Specter in the 2004 primary.

The move couldn't come at a more important time. Including Al Franken, Specter's move gives Dems the magic number in the Senate. Now, let's see if Steele can get a right winger elected in Pennsylv... oh, never mind. Happy 60!

UPDATE: In his presser today, Specter keeps it real, says he didn't want to subject his record to a right wing primary.



But he also calls for a "revolution" to save the GOP from the right wing kooks who seem bent on "purifying the party" (and losing elections.) BTW, this is the second party switch for Specter, who was a Democrat through the JFK era, before he found it more electorally convenient to become a Republican. Just sayin' ...

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posted by JReid @ 12:47 PM  
Thursday, April 09, 2009
Rush to the rescue
Who's picking the Republican leadership of tomorrow? Why, it's the unsexy of today. You remember the unsexy don't you? It's El Rushbo, who topped the Boston Phoenix's unsexy list already this year, with three quarters of the year still to go!

1. Rush Limbaugh

JABBA THE NUT
America’s ugliest moment of 2009? Rush Limbaugh, his man-boobs a-jiggle, bouncing at the CPAC podium to bask in the sickly glow of conservatism’s orgy of greed, avarice, and arrogance. Here, at last, was the shining image of the 21st century Republican Party: a leeringly rich Baby Boomer squatting at the top of the mountain, reaping his jollies from the suffering of those at the bottom, praying for the failure of hope. If this hypocritical and morally repugnant reformed Oxy junkie wants to discuss “failure,” maybe we should talk about his career as an NFL commentator — or the last time he detoxed off prescription smack.
How on earth did Dick "The Torturer" Cheney not make that list ... anyhoo, fast forward to today, and El Rushbo is deciding which GOP leader's boobies will be jiggling next: and it's a toss-up between Sarah Palin (go figure) and Mark "We Don't Need No Stim Money" Sanford. Jump around!

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posted by JReid @ 12:44 PM  
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
Michael Steele's crazy train: who is Trevor Francis
The latest drama from the three-ring circus that is Michael Steele's RNC, per Politico, the announcement of Steele's new communications director, Trevor Francis, drew a collective "who is Trevor Francis???" from D.C. insiders. To whit:
“I don’t know who he is,” one senior comm staffer told us. Four more senior staffers agreed — staffers who, mind you, will be working with Francis daily.

Now, he does have experience — he worked at the RNC during Haley Barbour’s reign, when Jim Dyke was working there, and he comes from the world of Burson-Marsteller, and before that he worked for Commerce Sec Don Evans. As one of the above four staffers told us, “I doubt reporters know him, and if people know him, they knew him from five years ago — he’s been out of the game since then.” Another staffer scoffed that he hoped he wouldn’t have to do a search to find political reporters’ e-mails on Day One.

This is not a good sign, despite his “12 years’ experience,” as one site boasts.

Dyke, now a consultant, is working with Steele, and the consensus is that Francis was chosen because, as one former Francis colleague put it: “Jim can control him.” Dyke laughed that off and told Shenan: “Like bananas control monkeys. Or do monkeys control bananas?”

Someone familiar with Francis declared coolly, “Trevor is in over his head” and added, “In this kind of atmosphere, they need a big shot.”

Yet another staffer reacted, “Can the RNC just stoooooooooop?!” The GOP-er familiar with Francis wondered aloud: “It’s like Michael Steele is a Democrat trying to do everything possible to screw us.”
Or maybe his plan is to make Republicans absolutely "bananans" -- another middle aged hip-hop version of "off the chain..." See? There is method to Steele's madness...

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posted by JReid @ 3:46 PM  
Thursday, March 12, 2009
In the Michael Steele flameout, a peek under the curtain
A passage from the Politico top story (until they switch to the Cramer beat-down by Jon Stewart) offers a glimpse into the hall of mirrors that is the right wing of the Republican Party. As we all now know, Steele stepped in it again, this time in a GQ interview in which he seemed to express disturbingly tolerant, mildly pro-life views on abortion (and gays). Well, the abortion comments are sending the religious right into full-on revolt, according to Politico. Among the complaints:
"Michael Steele has just walked away from the Reaganesque position of strong moral clarity on abortion to personify why the Republican Party continues to be in a 'free fall',” said another activist, Jenn Giroux, the executive director of the conservative group Women Influencing the Nation. “It is amazing that he cannot see and learn from the fact that Sarah Palin's position on abortion and her unapologetic defense of every conceived child drew crowds by the thousands on that issue alone.”
Hm. So Sarah P's special needs baby, and the fact that her having him demonstrates her pro-lifeyness, is the real reason wingers are so ga-ga about Sarah? It really is all about abortion in the end? That would certainly explain why the wingerati are even gung ho (no pun intended...) on her preggers teenage daughter (who isn't marrying her "f-in redneck" baby daddy anymore, now that ma ain't gonna be vahce president...) And speaking of Bristol, you've got to love this:

The story first emerged in the tabloid Star magazine, which quoted Mr Johnston’s sister Mercedes saying that Ms Palin and her mother were to blame for the break-up. The couple had been due to marry this summer.

“Levi tries to see Tripp every single day, but Bristol makes it nearly impossible,” Mercedes Johnston is quoted as saying.

“She tells him he can’t take the baby to our house because she doesn’t want him around ‘white trash’. The worst part, Ms Johnston tells the magazine, is that Governor Palin supports her daughter’s treatment of Mr Johnston.

Ms Palin said in a statement issued through her mother’s political action committee that she was devastated by the report in Star. “Unfortunately, my family has seen many people say and do things to ‘cash in’ on the Palin name. Sometimes that greed clouds good judgment and the truth.”

Jesus, his sister's name is Mercedes? Yeah. That IS ghetto...

Check out the Reidblog Michael Steele page

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posted by JReid @ 11:20 PM  
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Newt: aiming to be the man
Newt Gingrich is running for president in 2012. How do I know? The "other fat one" has waded into the GOP vacuum created, most recently, by the unmanliness of Michael Steele. Now, Newt is attempting to demonstrate that one can stand up against Rush Limbaugh -- even dare to question his role as the leader of the Republican Party, and live to tell about it. We'll see how that works out. He even used the opportunity, on NBC no less, to take a shot at Chris Matthews:
"Rush Limbaugh is in the long run an interesting radio personality," Gingrich said on NBC's "Meet the Press."

"The fact is he has a large audience, the audience believes him, the audience calls their members, the audience has an affect. He's not the leader of the Republican party," he said.

"That's like saying, 'Does Chris Matthews help or hurt the Democratic party?'"
As if. Matthews, on a given day, sounds like everything from a Democrat to a Reaganite. Calling him a leader of any Democrat is like saying Shep Smith should replace Michael Steele. (Newt then went on to answer the question of whether he wants to run in 2012 with something on the order of "not particularly." But of course not...

Related: David Frum gets the cover of Newsweek to air his own Rush dissent.

Previous:

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posted by JReid @ 4:25 PM  
Thursday, March 05, 2009
Michael Steele's hip-hop revolution: U down with GOP?
A little fun with Michael Steele's many troubles...



The ReidBlog Michael Steele page.

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posted by JReid @ 5:17 PM  
Wednesday, February 25, 2009
Line of the day: the party of Beavis and Butthead
Big up to Paul Krugman, who bitch slaps Country Bob Jindal's ridiculing of government spending on volcano tracking:
leaving aside the chutzpah of casting the failure of his own party’s governance as proof that government can’t work, does he really think that the response to natural disasters like Katrina is best undertaken by uncoordinated private action? Hey, why bother having an army? Let’s just rely on self-defense by armed citizens. The intellectual incoherence is stunning. Basically, the political philosophy of the GOP right now seems to consist of snickering at stuff that they think sounds funny. The party of ideas has become the party of Beavis and Butthead.
Heh. He said "butt..."

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posted by JReid @ 9:36 PM  
Monday, February 02, 2009
Michael Steele's can't miss, surefire GOP rebuilding strategy
If he's true to his old form, he'll just smile a lot and pretend to be a Democrat... He could even send out deceptively cryptic voter guides to black people, and do commercials where he never says the word "Republican!"

Either that or he could just trot out the same tired Republican policies but start palling around with Sarah Palin...

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posted by JReid @ 4:16 PM  
Wednesday, January 28, 2009
The incredible shrinking GOP
Wanna see something scary (if you're a Republican?) Check out this map (hat tip to Eric J at the Florida Dems.) It shows the 50 states in terms of party identification, including Independent "leaners," breaking the country down into "strong Democrat" -- Dem advantage of 10 points or more, "strong Republican" -- Republican advantage of 10 points or more, and all points in between. The findings are stark:

The small spot of red you see is the last remaining bastion of strong GOP party identification. It consists of just four states: Alaska (you betcha!) Wyoming (home of Dick Cheney's secret lair,) Utah and Idaho (where Larry Craig still "is not gay, never has been gay," and loves his wife.) Even Texas doesn't make the list, as it's becoming more Hispanic and therefore, more competitive. Now, look at the wide swaths of blue: it's clear that at least as of 2008, the country has gone solidly Dem. The Republicans are the kids nobody wants to eat lunch with. From Gallup, the outfit that released the findings:

What is immediately clear from the map is that residents of the United States were very Democratic in their political orientation last year. In fact, Gallup has earlier reported that a majority of Americans nationwide said they identified with or leaned to the Democratic Party in 2008.

All told, 29 states and the District of Columbia had Democratic party affiliation advantages of 10 points or greater last year. This includes all of the states in the Northeast, and all but Indiana in the Great Lakes region. There are even several Southern states in this grouping, including Arkansas, North Carolina, and Kentucky.

An additional six states had Democratic advantages ranging between 5 and 9 points.

In contrast, only five states had solid or leaning Republican orientations in 2008, with Utah, Wyoming, Idaho, and Alaska in the former group, and Nebraska in the latter.

The most balanced political states in 2008 were Texas (+2 Democratic), South Dakota (+1), Mississippi (+1), North Dakota (+1), South Carolina (even), Arizona (even), Alabama (+1 Republican), and Kansas (+2 Republican).

(Including Dem and Republican-leaning Indepdendents.) Note again: Texas -- not Reublican -- but rather balanced. Florida, meanwhile, shakes out as a blue state, with a 9% Democratic advantage -- identical to, get this: Virginia and Indiana. Wow. But the map has more to say: Democrats could and should, be winning even bigger:
Virginia, Florida, and Indiana (all with +9 Democratic partisanship advantages) are arguably the most impressive wins for Obama, since they were the least Democratic states he won. McCain managed to win West Virginia, which had a 19-point Democratic advantage, as well as three other solidly Democratic states -- Kentucky (+13), Arkansas (+12), and Missouri (+11). McCain also swept the states that had narrow Democratic advantages of less than five points.
The key factors in the Democratic McCain states, it's arguable, are race and turnout. If Democrats can get access to white Democratic voters in states like West Virginia and Arkansas, where the Democratic voters are probably really "Dixiecrats," they can own elections for a very long time.



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posted by JReid @ 5:21 PM  
Monday, December 29, 2008
Chip, the magic chairman

Consider this my official endorsement of Chip Saltsman to be the new RNC Chairman. Why? Because in my opinion, despite all the furor he's creating over his song choices, Saltsman best exemplifies the values of today's GOP. Why?

For starters, he's doesn't seem to be a serious person. And for decades now, the Republican Party has become more and more anti-intellectual, retrograde and unserious. Example: during the recent presidential campaign, rather than taking on Barack Obama on issues of substance (economic policy, foreign policy, etc.) Steve Schmidt and company accused Obama of being ... golly! ... a celebrity ... (well duh...) and of "palling around with terrorists," something no serious person believed. And the lack of seriousness from the opposition party could be further summed up in two words: Sarah Palin.

So Saltsman, with his silly CD full of screwball comedy bits like "Barack the Magic Negro," fits the bill. In fact, the Barack song is a great example of conservatism today. The Los Angeles Times column that it's based on, titled "Obama the 'Magic Negro,'" was written in March 2007 by a black guy (actually, a mixed race guy like Obama,) and media critic named David Ehrenstein, who was making serious and interesting points about Obama's candidacy and race in America. A clip:
The Magic Negro is a figure of postmodern folk culture, coined by snarky 20th century sociologists, to explain a cultural figure who emerged in the wake of Brown vs. Board of Education. "He has no past, he simply appears one day to help the white protagonist," reads the description on Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magical_Negro .

He's there to assuage white "guilt" (i.e., the minimal discomfort they feel) over the role of slavery and racial segregation in American history, while replacing stereotypes of a dangerous, highly sexualized black man with a benign figure for whom interracial sexual congress holds no interest.

As might be expected, this figure is chiefly cinematic — embodied by such noted performers as Sidney Poitier, Morgan Freeman, Scatman Crothers, Michael Clarke Duncan, Will Smith and, most recently, Don Cheadle. And that's not to mention a certain basketball player whose very nickname is "Magic."

Poitier really poured on the "magic" in "Lilies of the Field" (for which he won a best actor Oscar) and "To Sir, With Love" (which, along with "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner," made him a No. 1 box-office attraction). In these films, Poitier triumphs through yeoman service to his white benefactors. "Guess Who's Coming to Dinner" is particularly striking in this regard, as it posits miscegenation without evoking sex. (Talk about magic!)

... And what does the white man get out of the bargain? That's a question asked by John Guare in "Six Degrees of Separation," his brilliant retelling of the true saga of David Hampton — a young, personable gay con man who in the 1980s passed himself off as the son of none other than the real Sidney Poitier. Though he started small, using the ruse to get into Studio 54, Hampton discovered that countless gullible, well-heeled New Yorkers, vulnerable to the Magic Negro myth, were only too eager to believe in his baroque fantasy. (One of the few who wasn't fooled was Andy Warhol, who was astonished his underlings believed Hampton's whoppers. Clearly Warhol had no need for the accouterment of interracial "goodwill.")

But the same can't be said of most white Americans, whose desire for a noble, healing Negro hasn't faded. That's where Obama comes in: as Poitier's "real" fake son.
The parody, on the other hand, was written and performed by a white guy and conservative comedian named Paul Shanklin. It tackles the deep, existential question of whether Al Sharpton thought Obama is really black. let's compare Shanklin's lyrics:
Yeah, the guy from the L.A. paper
Said he makes guilty whites feel good
They’ll vote for him, and not for me
‘Cause he’s not from the hood.

See, real black men, like Snoop Dog,
Or me, or Farrakhan
Have talked the talk, and walked the walk.
Not come in late and won!
And Ehrenstein's:
The only mud that momentarily stuck was criticism (white and black alike) concerning Obama's alleged "inauthenticty," as compared to such sterling examples of "genuine" blackness as Al Sharpton and Snoop Dogg. Speaking as an African American whose last name has led to his racial "credentials" being challenged — often several times a day — I know how pesky this sort of thing can be.
Sorry, but aren't good parodies supposed to be at least half as interesting as the things they mock? There are other reasons think our friend Chip should become RNC chair. Here are a few:

1. He's not black. The GOP can only have one black spokesmodel at a time. Michael Steele and Ken Blackwell cancel each other out. Besides, the Republican Party has become so racially polarizing, and so tinged with scary, racist rallies, generic race-baiters, Alaskan secessionists and creepy bald guys, I doubt that either Steele or Blackwell would have much credibility with the rank and file. Even if they were accepted as party leader, either man would appear to all the world like a token, and the GOP needs genuine outreach to people of color, and much better ideas, not tokens.

2. He's from the South. At this point, the Republican Party is essentially a southern party, down to their decided preference for foreign automakers who locate south of the Maxon Dixon with an eye toward tanking American wages. A regional party should have a regional chairman, from a representative state (sorry, Jim Greer. Florida is a bit too cosmopolitan at the lower geographic end. And a state with so many prominent Latinos just won't fit in with the Dixiefide party you belong to.)

3. He ran Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign. Ergo, he's both evangelical-friendly and prone to losing national elections. At this point, everyone in the GOP is one or the other (or both.)

4. He's clueless. This was his response to the hubbub over his holiday CD:
"Liberal Democrats and their allies in the media didn't utter a word about David Ehrenstein's irresponsible column in the Los Angeles Times last March. But now, of course, they're shocked and appalled by its parody on the 'Rush Limbaugh Show.'
Um ... if you thought that the column was "irresponsible," what makes you think the parody isn't?

and last but not least:

5. He's an equal opportunity offender (just like his pal Rush Limbaugh and the rest of the GOP.) After all, the Grand Old Party has not just turned off black folk. They've also spurned Hispanics, young voters, the middle class, smart people, scientists, non-xenophobes and anyone who opposes the Iraq War or doesn't worship George W. Bush. In short: everybody except the Palinites. So is it any wonder that while "Barack the Magic Negro" is getting all the attention, the rest of the CD is no great shakes either:
The CD, called "We Hate the U.S.A," blasts liberals with such musical greats as “Barack the Magic Negro,” first played on Rush Limbaugh’s radio show, "John Edwards' Poverty Tour," "Wright Place, Wrong Pastor," "The Star Spanglish Banner" and "Love Client #9."
Great work, Chip. You've done your party a great service. You'll make a mighty fine chair.

UPDATE: Read this editorial. I wish I'd written it. It concludes:

The 1992 redistricting piled up non-white voters into congressional districts dubbed "minority-majority," to increase non-white representation in Congress. Republicans eagerly embraced the new take on voting rights, as they felt it would make dozens of white-majority districts less competitive for Democrats. There was also much hand-wringing among Democrats for the same reason, and some even argued that there was no point in increasing non-white representation in Congress if it meant that the party would never again regain power. Obviously, things have turned out quite differently for the Democrats, whose Congressional majority is now as strong as it has been in decades, thanks in part to its robust diversity, and to a growing indifference to race and ethnicity.

It is no coincidence that at the same time, the GOP has shriveled into a more uniform party than at most times since the 1960s. Like a restricted country club that would rather die than change, the Republican Party is marginalizing itself for the sake of the white men who run it. "Barack The Magic Negro" and Palm Beach aryanists are just the more bizarre manifestations of a party that has wallowed for so long in the privileges of its white male supremacy that it does not even realize that everyone has left the plantation, and they are not coming back.

But the whole thing is worth your time. Check it out.

UPDATE 2: Huck Thin defends the Chipster:

Chip should have been more careful in his selection of Christmas gifts, but no one who knows him would ever suggest that he in any way would purposely disparage other people. Chip knows how sensitive such issues are. It shouldn’t be the main factor in the RNC race.

I mean some of his best friends are Magic Negroes...

UPDATE 3: The GOP plans a January retreat, to search for its soul on racial issues ... no really, they're going to do that.








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posted by JReid @ 2:30 PM  
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