17 July 2005

Mehlman reinforces GOP's poor record with black voters

This afternoon on Late Edition with Wolf Blitzer, Republican National Committee Chairman Ken Mehlman made controversial comments that only reinforce the fact that his party is completely disconnected from the interests of African Americans in this country.

John King, who was substituting for Wolf Blitzer, questioned Mehlman about the chairman's shocking admission earlier in the week that the GOP had used a Southern Strategy in order to gain white voters by pitting them against black voters. Initiated by Senator Barry Goldwater and President Richard Nixon, then perfected by President Ronald Reagan and President George W. Bush, the Southern Strategy allowed Republicans to encourage "disaffected Southern white voters to vote Republican by blaming pro-civil rights Democrats for racial unrest and other racial problems." Essentially, the Southern Strategy created a belief that a vote for the Republicans was a vote against African Americas, thereby getting angry white voters to join the GOP.

Mehlman shocked the American public this week by apologizing for the actions of his party. Mehlman said, "Some Republicans gave up on winning the African-American vote, looking the other way or trying to benefit politically from racial polarization. I am here today as the Republican chairman to tell you we were wrong."

Mehlman's apology angered many in the so-called "Party of Lincoln" who would like to see the party's politics of racial division continue. Radio talk show host and GOP mouthpiece Rush Limbaugh attacked the NAACP, the oldest civil rights organization in the country, calling it the "National Association for the Advancement of Liberal Colored People." Limbaugh also attacked Mehlman's apology for the GOP's use of the Southern Strategy.

Limbaugh said, "Know what he's [Mehlman's] going to do? He's going to go down there and basically apologize for what has come to be known as the Southern Strategy, popularized in the Nixon administration. He's going to go down there and apologize for it. In the midst of all of this, in the midst of all that's going on, once again, Republicans are going to go bend over and grab the ankles." Limbaugh concluded by saying, "It is just -- it's absolutely absurd."

The CNN interview with Ken Mehlman then touched on the fact that President Bush again this year refused to address the NAACP. Mehlman avoided the question, and John King let the chairman dodge the issue completely.

The part of the interview that was most absolutely shocking was the misstatement by Mehlman when he called James Byrd, Jr. a racist. James Byrd was the black man from Texas who was dragged to his death in 1998. The three men responsible for his brutal murder, Shawn Allen Berry, Lawrence Russel Brewer, and John William King, were eventually convicted. President Bush, then the Texas Governor who oversaw the most state executions in recent history, refused to aggressively seek the death penalty for these men, and Berry escaped a death sentence for this brutal crime.

The issue with Mehlman is that he confused Byrd with one of his murderers. Melman said, "The NAACP unfortunately in the 2000 campaign likened the president to James Byrd, who was a racist killer in east Texas, who the president brought to justice." While the RNC may try to dismiss this as a simple misstatement, they cannot do successfully. Would Mehlman confuse President Abraham Lincoln with John Wilkes Booth? Would he mistake Dr. Martin Luther King with James Earl Ray? Would he confuse President John F. Kennedy with Lee Harvey Oswald? It is impossible to make such an error when one cares deeply about the subject matter discussed. This slip of the tongue by Mehlman only reinforces that fact that Republicans cared little about the murder of James Byrd, Jr. in 1998 and today the Republicans refuse to care about the interests of the African American community.

Mehlman believes that the GOP can coax black voters back to their party by reminding them that Lincoln was a Republican and to accuse the Democrats of taking the black vote for granted. If Mehlman and the Republican Party think that such tactics will work, they are wrong.


Anonymous tdog said...

I agree that the GOP's admission for the Southern Strategy was shocking. The Democrats should be bringing this up repeatedly. The Southern Strategy has made race relations in this country worse, and the Republicans are to blame. Lincoln must be rolling over in his grave when they say the GOP is the "Party of Lincoln."

Limbaugh is a druggie scumbag. He does however speak for a great number of Republicans. His offensive comments should be attributed to the GOP.

I think that this post overplays the statement about James Byrd. Yeah it was a stupid screw up, but not as important as the other topics discussed in this post.

4:03:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Republicans are trying to get the black vote, but they have a lot of work to do. All of the horrible things that they have done to African Americans will not be forgotten any time soon. I don't care how many Jennifer Carrolls they get for window dressing.

12:02:00 AM  

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