Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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October 29, 2010

MEEK'S REPUBLICAN CHAMPIONS EMERGE.... It was always the scenario Republicans feared. The only development likely to prevent Marco Rubio (R) from winning Florida's U.S. Senate race fairly easily is if Kendrick Meek (D) stepped aside, and his supporters shifted to Gov. Charlie Crist (I). And as we learned overnight, as of a week ago, that very nearly happened.

But now that the deal appears to have fallen through, Republicans have a new message: the entire effort is evidence of some kind of racism. Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele said in a statement:

"President Clinton's actions to have Kendrick Meek withdraw from the campaign sends a chilling signal to all voters, but especially African Americans. One can only imagine the response if Republican leadership tried to force out of the race -- in the 11th hour -- a qualified black candidate like Kendrick Meek."

I rather doubt anyone is actually supposed to take this seriously; it's just too ridiculous on its face. The RNC may not have heard, but Bill Clinton tends to have a fair amount of credibility in many African American communities, and the idea that Clinton tried to broker a deal to prevent a far-right victory because of some kind of racial animus is pretty crazy, even for Michael Steele.

But it's especially amusing to see Republicans push this line given the larger context. Steele may not have noticed, but this election season, it's been hard to overlook the systemic Republican attempts to use identity politics to win elections. Steele conceded earlier this year that his party relied on a racially-divisive Southern Strategy for at least four decades. He neglected to mention that the party's affinity for the approach never really went away.

The examples from just this cycle are too numerous to list, but it's worth taking note of West Virginia's John Raese's attempts at ethnic "humor," Nevada's Sharron Angle's racist TV ad followed by her telling Hispanic students they look Asian, New York's Carl Paladino's racist emails, Colorado's Tom Tancredo's call for a return to Jim Crow policies, Kentucky's Rand Paul's discomfort with the Civil Rights Act of 1964, and a variety of Republican House candidates who've embraced elements of white supremacism.

Also note that the Republican Party and its media outlets have spent much of the past several months obsessing over "controversies" with unmistakable undertones -- Park51, the New Black Panther Party, Birther nonsense, talk of "liberation theology" -- all of which seemed focused on scaring the bejesus out of white people in an election year.

But now the RNC would have African-American voters believe that Clinton and other Dems somehow treated Meek unfairly because of race. The irony is rich.

Steve Benen 8:30 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (23)

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Comments

"The irony is rich."
Yes, it is, especially coming from Republicans who suffer from an irony-deficiency at all other times.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on October 29, 2010 at 8:42 AM | PERMALINK

I don't think Clinton's and other Dems' actions here were motivated by race. And the GOP has some freaking nerve trying to play that card after the appallingly racist messaging in so many of its candidates' campaigns.

Having said that, this was an extraordinarily tone-deaf move for Clinton and others to make, for the reasons I mentioned in the thread below.

Posted by: shortstop on October 29, 2010 at 8:46 AM | PERMALINK

"The irony is rich."
Yes, it is, especially coming from Republicans who suffer from an irony-deficiency at all other times.Posted by: c u n d gulag

Especially coming from a black man who was originally chosen for a job because of his skin color and then circumvented and all but neutered by his own party.

"One can only imagine the response if Republican leadership tried to force out of the race -- in the 11th hour -- a qualified black candidate"- Steele

Steele left himself a looot of wiggle room with that statement. We all know the GOP doesn't seek its candidates (the crazy just cull themselves), and certainly not any kind of qualified candidate, and most especially not a qualified black candidate.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on October 29, 2010 at 8:59 AM | PERMALINK

Bill Clinton tends to have a fair amount of credibility in many African American communities

Considering his actions in the 2008 campaign, you may want to re-think the use of "many."

Posted by: cr on October 29, 2010 at 9:05 AM | PERMALINK

Once upon a time Democrats fought for Democratic candidates. Fortunately, bipartisanship has brought an end to that. How's that bipartisanship going, BTW?

Posted by: Tom Allen on October 29, 2010 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

And of course it helps to have folks like BrooklynBadBoy over at DailyKos pimping the EXACT SAME TALKING POINTS.

http://www.dailykos.com/comments/2010/10/28/14318/493/214#c214

Some people just love their identity politics.

Posted by: John S. on October 29, 2010 at 9:15 AM | PERMALINK

@Tom Allen:

Republicans only care about one thing, and that's WINNING. Democrats seem to prefer Quixotic endeavors. Meek ran a shitty campaign, and at no point did he ever stand a chance in winning. I'm not throwing my vote away on someone just because they have a (D) next to their name. And I would rather try to stop the rise of a Teabagger freak than feel good about my political purity.

I'm a Floridian, and I've never voted for a Republican in my entire life, but I voted for Charlie Crist, because if Rubio wins, we all lose.

Posted by: John S. on October 29, 2010 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

A year from the election we will be wondering again why we think U.S. politics and elections can solve the problems we face.

Then as another election approaches we will flip-flop back into faith in elections.

We need to realize that our Twinkie elections are symptomatic of a larger Twinkie System and proceed accordingly.

Posted by: Dredd on October 29, 2010 at 9:25 AM | PERMALINK

You must enjoy pulling the Overton Window even further right than it is now. I would think that since you can choose among a teabagger, a Republican, and a Democrat, you might choose the Democrat.

Posted by: Tom Allen on October 29, 2010 at 9:33 AM | PERMALINK

And it should be noted that there is a strong ethnic subtext occurring in New Mexico's governor's race. The whole 'Tenaja Susana' thing is being oddly twisted by Susana Martinez and the NM GOP to be a racial reference, when in fact it refers to Martinez' Texas Swiftboat connections. Martinez' commercials say "don't let them divide us," and the impact of that language for those who live here and understand the rather complicated dynamics is by "us" she is referring to and appealing to Hispanics. But of course the GOP is claiming it is the Democrats who are 'race baiting.' Since when are Texas oil billionaires considered a biological 'race?'

Posted by: Varecia on October 29, 2010 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

It seems that many voters have confused American Politics with American Idol.

Posted by: DAY on October 29, 2010 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

John S. is right Meek ran a meek campaignand has a really good chance of splitting the sane vote and allowing the Teabagger nuts to win.

Having said that, Clinton's vaunted political capital amoung African-American communities was mostly spent during his wife's campaign as they made ham-handed Jesse Jackson references and race card accusations while shamelessly trying to garner the "real American" vote.

The argument that CLinton is trying to support the candidate who can prevent a right wing pick-up is undermined by his support for Blanche Lincoln.

Posted by: Winkandanod on October 29, 2010 at 9:51 AM | PERMALINK

I live in Florida and the really sad part is that they couldn't find a more dynamic candidate than Meek. As said above - zero campaign skills and his major claim to fame ..Carrie Meek's son. I voted for Christ too to try and stop the weasel Rubio

Posted by: John R on October 29, 2010 at 9:56 AM | PERMALINK

You folks are in la-la land voting for Crist.

Perhaps if any of you, *any*, can point to a major piece of legislation in the past two years in the US senate that you believe Rubio and Crist would have voted differently on.

All the Republicans voted against the stimulus and they all voted against the health care bill. And whether it's Rubio or Crist, the future junior senator from Florida will have an identical voting record, just like all the other Republicans.

The seat's going to be a loss.

You can either accept that loss with your integrity intact or you can accept the loss and also signal to the Republicans that their Tea Party strategy in Florida should be rolled out to the rest of the country because that way Dems will just abandon their side and vote Republican.

But either way it's going to be a loss.

Posted by: Observer on October 29, 2010 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

a major piece of legislation in the past two years in the US senate that you believe Rubio and Crist would have voted differently on.

Both SCOTUS nominations.

Posted by: Tim H on October 29, 2010 at 10:43 AM | PERMALINK

TimH: Are you just trying to be stupid?
Nominations aren't pieces of legislation.

And there was never a chance that any of the SCOTUS nominees weren't going to pass.

Try again.

Posted by: Observer on October 29, 2010 at 10:56 AM | PERMALINK

SCOTUS nominations are major. And the next one may be a lot closer. In fact, given that the House is likely to go repub, the likelihood of any major legislation passing in the next two years is slim. A SCOTUS nomination might. I'm not trying to be stupid; I'm trying to answer the question you asked. I think you missed a scenario. Please be civil. Wouldn't Rubio and Crist have voted differently on the SCOTUS nominations? I think it is likely.

Posted by: Tim H on October 29, 2010 at 11:16 AM | PERMALINK

When this story came out yesterday with Clinton's name attached to it I suspected they did this under the assumption that regardless of whether Meek remains in the race more Democrats would vote for Crist to help the Democrats retain control of the Senate.

Just having the news out may have made a difference, but having Meek actually drop out and endorse Crist would receive far more coverage and get the word out to more people.

Posted by: Ron Chusid on October 29, 2010 at 11:25 AM | PERMALINK

Okay you're right about being civil. Mea culpa, no excuses.

There are no examples in the Obama presidential era of a close or consequential vote having any Republican senators buck the wishes of the republican leadership.

If a SCOTUS is going to be close, then they'll all vote together and whether it's Rubio or Crist, it doesn't matter.

It's just simply hard to find any real example that will actually make a difference. You can try but think about it.

All this caterwauling about Rubio is just to placate people and make them feel better.

Posted by: Observer on October 29, 2010 at 11:42 AM | PERMALINK

Meek says he didn't agree to drop out, I bet he's been too busy trying to get the knife out of his back that Clinton stuck there.
Since when it is okay for a Democrat to backstab another Democrat.
Clinton got mad at Meek when Meek wouldn't withdraw and so Clinton leaked the story that Meek was and then wasn't going to withdraw.
The voters in Florida should be able to vote for a Democrat.
I wish Clinton would just go away.

Posted by: Maude on October 29, 2010 at 12:27 PM | PERMALINK

Apology accepted. (Yeah, it gets emotional around now.)

I just don't see repub leadership having much hold on Crist, if he gets elected. He already got teabagged once. He's never going to win another repub nomination in Florida again, since he bailed out of the primary.

Crist is a moderate repub. He vetoed a couple awful bills that the Florida repub majority sent to him. One was about teaching creationism in schools. That's why I think he might split with his party on SCOTUS nominations. Getting even that is more than Meek will be able to deliver.

You may not consider it major, but what about the arms control treaty? That might be a split, also. Just tossing out possibilities.

Posted by: Tim H on October 29, 2010 at 1:34 PM | PERMALINK

...a major piece of legislation in the past two years in the US senate that you believe Rubio and Crist would have voted differently on.

C'mon, Observer. Crist supported the stimulus bill and had the guts to stand up and say so. That's one of the main reasons he lost the Republican primary. If you are trying to make the case that Crist and Rubio are the same, especially now that Crist has been run from the Republican Party, I think you're wrong.

I have no problem with Meek, but he doesn' have a chance in hell of winning. Crist does with Meek out of the race. If Rubio wins, and that looks likely, he's a poster boy for Tea Party power. If he loses he's a laughingstock.

Posted by: Pug on October 29, 2010 at 4:48 PM | PERMALINK

Probably a little late to respond but...Crist didn't "support" the stimulus in the sense of having to vote for it. He was a Governor.

Here's what will happen: After the election Crist *won't* caucus with the Dems even though he says he will. The Repubs will make nice words and eventually he'll fall back in. His next election will be 6 years from now.

And I'm not trying to say Rubio and Crist are the same. I'm saying it doesn't matter when it comes down to major legislation, the Repubs vote in a block when they want to enforce party discipline. The words and actions out their mouths might be different, but the vote is where it actually counts.

Posted by: Observer on October 29, 2010 at 10:38 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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