It’s Tuesday, a day ending in “y,” so there must be another isolated incident of Republican racism to report. In this case, it’s a newsletter from the Winnebago County Republican Central Committee in President Obama’s home state of Illinois, which concludes by comparing the President with “the offspring of a donkey and a zebra, black and white legs, rest all donkey.” Why do these isolated incidents of racism tragically keep happening to Republicans?
Media update for the week: saw on the news this week the offspring of a donkey and a zebra, black and white legs, rest all donkey. Not sure why this is news: now if we can teach him to read a teleprompter, we could have two living creatures the media will fawn over that is part white part black and all a**!
Every time some Republican says something racist, the conservative response is to either deny that it is racist, admit it’s racist but maybe the guy has a point, or to call it an isolated incident while reminding the world that Harry Reid said “negro.” Or they somehow do all of those at once. In Mr. Thompson’s case, there’s also the fact that he’s just a local official, and not, say, a Republican presidential frontrunner, or a Republican vice-presidential nominee (take your pick). Whatever the rationale, it is crucially important that it not involve Republicans doing anything.
Why does this keep happening? Here is the answer, in the form of a Mr. Show with Bob and David sketch:
See, no matter how often these isolated incidents occur, Republicans keep going on the rollercoaster, which, in this case, includes a relentless parade of subtle or not racial appeals, pursuing policies that have a disproportionate racial impact, and two full minutes underwater. Now, there are even early indications that the conservative media will rush to die on Don Sterling’s lifetime suspension hill.
When the only difference between Cliven Bundy and your elected leaders is that Bundy used the word “negro,” that might be part of the problem. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY) hit on both of the key problems when he plied his minority outreach wares at Howard University last Spring. Paul was pilloried in the media for his patronizing reading of civil rights history, but the real star of the show was his diagnosis of the Republican Party’s decades-long alienation of black voters (emphasis mine):
I think what happened during the Great Depression was that African Americans understood that Republicans championed citizenship and voting rights but they became impatient for economic emancipation.
African Americans languished below white Americans in every measure of economic success and the Depression was especially harsh for those at the lowest rung of poverty.
The Democrats promised equalizing outcomes through unlimited federal assistance while Republicans offered something that seemed less tangible-the promise of equalizing opportunity through free markets.
See, the problem is that black people were seduced by Democrats with welfare, and just couldn’t understand how awesome Republican policies were, or weren’t willing to put in the extra work to succeed under them. This is not such a far stretch from what Cliven Bundy was saying, and it is the premise that undergirds Republican attitudes about minorities. They are too weak to resist Democrat goodies, and too stupid or lazy to follow Republicans.
This delusion has a double-edged effect on Republicans, simultaneously alienating voters rhetorically and causing them to continue to pursue policies that disproportionately favor a shrinking number of voters. That’s why they always seem to end up standing on a hill with the Cliven Bundys and Don Sterlings of the world.
Update: Thompson has apologized via email to TPM.