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“Cleaving Unto Rand Paul”: Did Mitch McConnell Call For African-American Outreach To Republicans?

Last night Roll Call’s Meredith Shiner published a report on Mitch McConnell’s obsessive efforts to head off (or undermine) a right-wing primary challenge in 2014 (perhaps, other observers suggest, from Louisville business figure Matthew Bevin, who is being courted by Kentucky Tea Party activists, or perhaps from some other heavily funded direction.

That’s all interesting to be sure, but here’s what caught my attention in Shiner’s story, as part of a general theme of McConnell cleaving unto Rand Paul for protection:

McConnell has shown a special deference to his freshman partner. He has held multiple votes on Paul’s amendments, even though many of them barely attract supporters in the double digits, sometimes at the expense of veteran lawmakers’ proposals. He has repeatedly been among only a handful of Republicans to vote for Paul’s budget alternative. He hired Paul’s 2010 campaign manager. And aides take frequent opportunities to link the two men.

McConnell’s address to the National Urban League, for example, sounded a lot like Paul’s at Howard. According to a source familiar with McConnell’s speech, the leader told the room of black business leaders: “I want to see a day when more African-Americans look at the issues and realize that they identify with the Republican Party.” That message echoed Paul’s at the historically black university.

Yes, McConnell did his own “African-American outreach” speech the same week as Paul’s, though it attracted about one-tenth of one percent of Paul’s media attention. But check out the direct quote above. Sounds like Mitch is standing pat on the GOP’s merits and asking African-Americans to figure it out.

There are a lot of different ways for a guy like McConnell to send valentines to disgruntled wingnuts. But calling for African-Americans to conduct “outreach” to an unmoving GOP is a new one.


By: Ed Kilgore, Contributing Writer, Washington MOnthly Political Animal, April 15, 2013

April 16, 2013 Posted by | GOP, Politics | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“The Lineage Of Today’s Republican’s”: What Rand Paul Doesn’t Get About Abe Lincoln, Abe Vigoda, And Black Voters

Here’s something that someone might want to share with Rand Paul. Abraham Lincoln was a president. Abe Vigoda was an actor. The fact that they both have the same first name, does not make them the same person.

That may seem obvious to you, but it’s something that I feel compelled to share. Because after listening to his Howard University speech, I’m not sure it’s a concept that Senator Paul fully understands.

Here’s why: On some basic level, Paul’s speech was an inquiry into the alienation that exists between the GOP and African-Americans. His conclusion: It’s all just a big misunderstanding.

You see, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican and he signed the Emancipation Proclamation. It was Democrats who led the South’s retrenchment after Reconstruction, established segregation and fought tooth and nail to protect Jim Crow. So it’s Republicans, not Democrats, according to Paul, who have always been the party of civil rights.

So why aren’t more African-Americans Republicans? Paul has an explanation: Having achieved electoral and civil rights African-Americans wanted economic equality, too. Republicans offered one way to get it, according to Paul, the free market, while Democrats offered another, government largesse. Thus far, Paul says, African-Americans have preferred the latter path to the former and what Republicans need to do is better explain why African-Americans should instead embrace the free market model. That’s his theory anyway.

Here Paul’s trying to pull off an interesting trick: using Republican performance from the pretty distant past to try and credential current policies. But in his historical retelling, Paul essentially collapses the timeline and says: look, we’ve always been for civil rights, and our free market prescriptions are just the latest iteration of that.

Now, it may be that this is the argument the GOP’s been looking for. Perhaps, having heard it, African-Americans will vote Republican in droves in 2014. But I’m not convinced.

First, despite Paul’s convictions, there’s a pretty obvious reason why African Americans vote for more Democratic candidates than Republicans: They prefer Democratic policies. That’s how most voters decide who to vote for – they review the candidate’s positions on issues important to them, and then vote for the one whose views are more in sync with their own.

Paul probably wouldn’t contest that – but he’d place the blame for Republican losses on someone who you might not expect: the voter. Instead of concluding that to compete for African-American votes Republicans have to change their policies, he suggests that the problem is the failure of African-Americans to fully comprehend the policies Republicans propose. That’s what he means when he says that Republicans have to find a different way to talk about them, right? The policy isn’t the problem, it’s your ability, (or lack thereof) to grasp it.

And here, Paul finds himself on something of a slippery slope. I mean, politics isn’t rocket science. And somehow every couple of years voters across the country manage to sift through the various policy papers and pronouncements of politicians up and down the ballot to make decisions about who to support. It’s peculiar (at the very least) to suggest that African-Americans are somehow incapable of engaging in the required analysis to do it when it comes to Republicans.

There’s something else about Paul’s thesis that just doesn’t add up. Yes, Abraham Lincoln was a Republican, and Democrats dominated southern politics during segregation. But really, which of these parties of the past has more in common with the iterations that exist today?

If the answers not obvious to you, there’s another bit of history that can help clear it up. Starting in the 1940s and accelerating in the 1960s national Democratic attitudes about segregation moved to the left, while the attitudes of the southern conservatives who had long affiliated with the Democratic Party pushed further to the right. This created an untenable intraparty tension that couldn’t last forever. And it didn’t, because southern conservatives found a new, more comfortable party to call home, one that expressed values in sync with their own. It was the Republican Party. They switched to it in droves.

All of which means, you guessed it, the lineage of today’s Republican party traces much more directly to those pro-segregation Democrats than it does to any southern Republicans who may have been around in that day.

So let’s be clear: Yes, Rand Paul is a Republican but when it comes to civil rights, his version of the GOP has about as much in common with the one that helped free the slaves as Abe Lincoln has with Abe Vigoda.

Which is to say: once you get past the name, not very much at all.


By: Anson Kaye, U. S. News and World Report, April 12, 2013

April 14, 2013 Posted by | Politics, Republicans | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Rand Paul Goes To Howard”: Ignoring Past Generations Of Egregious And Willfull Acts Of Insensitivity

The Republican Party is struggling with its future. Will it be a regional, Congressional party fighting a last-gasp battle for a shrinking base in a David and Goliath war against ominously expanding federal government? Or will it become a national, presidential party capable of adapting to a new American reality of diversity and expression in which the government serves an essential function in regulating public safety, providing a safety net and serving as a safeguard against discrimination?

Senator Rand Paul is trying to find a balance between the two. The same week that a dozen defiant senators threatened to filibuster any new gun control legislation, Paul ventured across Washington to historically black Howard University and gave a speech aimed at outreach and bridge building.

The man is mulling a presidential run after all.

The speech was a dud. It was a clipped-tail history lesson praising the civil rights record of the pre-Southern Strategy Republican Party, while slamming the concurrent record of the Democrats.

It completely ignored the past generation of egregious and willful acts of insensitivity by the G.O.P. toward the African-American community.

During the speech Paul asked, rhetorically and incredulously:

“How did the party that elected the first black U.S. Senator, the party that elected the first 20 African-American Congressmen, how did that party become a party that now loses 95 percent of the black vote? How did the Republican Party, the party of the Great Emancipator, lose the trust and faith of an entire race? From the Civil War to the Civil Rights Movement, for a century, most black Americans voted Republican. How did we lose that vote?”

You can’t be serious, Senator Paul. In fact, I know that you’re not. No thinking American could be so dim as to genuinely pose such questions.

Let me explain.

Republicans lost it when Richard Nixon’s strategist Kevin Phillips, who popularized the “Southern Strategy,” told The New York Times Magazine in 1970 that “the more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans.”

They lost it when Nixon appointed William Rehnquist to the Supreme Court, a man who, while he was a law clerk in Justice Robert Jackson’s office, wrote a memo defending separate-but-equal during Brown v. Board of Education, saying, “I realize that it is an unpopular and unhumanitarian position, for which I have been excoriated by my ‘liberal’ colleagues, but I think Plessy v. Ferguson was right and should be reaffirmed.”

They lost it in 1976 when Ronald Reagan adopted the racially charged “welfare queens” trope. They lost it when George Bush used Willie Horton as a club against Michael Dukakis. They lost it when George W. Bush imperially flew over New Orleans in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina, when people were still being plucked from rooftops and were huddling in a humid Super Dome.

They lost it when the McCain campaign took a dark turn and painted Barack Obama as the other, a man “palling around with terrorists,” a man who didn’t see “America like you and I see America.”

They lost it when Republican Representative Joe Wilson yelled “You lie!” at the president during a speech to a joint session of Congress. They lost it when a finger-wagging Republican Gov. Jan Brewer publicly chastised the president on an Arizona tarmac.

They lost it in 2011 when a Republican presidential candidate, Newt Gingrich, who was the front-runner for a while, falsely and preposterously claimed that: “Really poor children in really poor neighborhoods have no habits of working and have nobody around them who works. So they literally have no habit of showing up on Monday. They have no habit of staying all day. They have no habit of ‘I do this and you give me cash’ unless it’s illegal.”

They lost it when another Republican presidential candidate, Rick Santorum, he of “blah people” infamy, accused President Obama of “elitist snobbery” and “hubris” for supposedly saying “under my administration, every child should go to college.” (For the record, the president never actually said that.)

The Republicans lost the black vote when Herman Cain, an African-American candidate for the Republican nomination, began using overt slave imagery to suggest that he had left “the Democrat plantation.”

They continued to lose it when the African-American Republican of the moment, Dr. Benjamin Carson, echoed Cain and said of white liberals:

“Well, they’re the most racist people there are. You know, they put you in a little category, a little box. You have to think this way. How could you dare come off the plantation?”

The Republican Party has a tarnished brand in the eyes of the African-American community, largely because of its own actions and rhetoric. That can’t be glossed over by painting the present party with the laurels of the distant past.


By: Charles M. Blow, Op-Ed Columnist, The New York Times, April !0, 2013

April 12, 2013 Posted by | Politics | , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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