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June 13, 2013 1:01 PM Virginia Republicans & Their Black Wingnut Preacher Addiction

By Ed Kilgore

You’d think the Virginia Republican Party would be frantic by now to disassociate themselves from the miasma of Crazy that their nomination of Bishop E. W. Jackson for Lieutenant Governor has inflicted upon their statewide ticket, which was already well down that road with its other two candidates, gubernatorial hopeful Ken Cuccinelli and his intended successor as attorney general, Mark Obenshain. I mean, if I were in charge of the Virginia GOP I’d probably find a way to offer Jackson a six-month “fact-finding” mission to Moldavia or something.

Instead, just this week, we have:

* Jackson holding a press conference to “reveal as many of my weaknesses and shortcomings as a curious press and my opposition might want to look into,” including past drug use and money troubles (at one point leading to bankruptcy), and extended discussions of his actual views on the relationship of Satan to Yoga, and of parental sin to birth defects. If this event was the result of someone advising Jackson it’s a good idea to get negative stuff out early to “clear the air,” then that advisor should have also mentioned the time to do that is late on a Holiday Weekend Friday, preferably when there’s some overriding news story that ensures your disclosures and clarifications are only noticed by about 500 people, four hundred of whom are as troubled as you are.

* The announcement by the VA GOP that it was appointing the Rev. Joe Ellison, Jr., as its “director of African American Engagement.” As TPM’s Perry Stein instantly reported:

Ellison, the director of Pastoral Relations and Church Ministries for the Virginia Pastors Coalition, is a social conservative that has called for the shuttering of Planned Parenthood and publicly supported an idea that the devastating 2009 earthquake in Haiti was linked to a pact Hatians made with the devil 200 years ago.
“Today, this African American pastor is declaring war against Planned Parenthood,” he said in 2010, according to CBN News. “We’re asking pastors to pray them out and we’re asking Planned Parenthood to leave our children alone.”
Also in 2010, Ellison said he agreed with Rev. Pat Robertson’s controversial claim that the 2009 earthquake in Haiti was caused by a “pact with the Devil” that was sealed in a voodoo ceremony on the eve of Haiti’s successful slave rebellion.
“I know his comments angered a lot of the so-called, in my opinion, liberals,” said Ellison, who said he was speaking as an emissary of the black community, according to the Washington Post. “From a spiritual standpoint, we think the Dr. Robertson was on target about Haiti, in the past, with voodoo. And we believe in the Bible that the practice of voodoo is a sin, and what caused the nation to suffer. Those who read the Bible and study the history know that what Dr. Robertson said was the truth.”

What’s next? Will Ellison hold his own press conference preempting the negative coverage he’s going to get?

Now Republicans should have figured out by now that this kind of African-American political figure never, ever attracts actual black voters to the GOP banner. Nor is a Jackson or an Ellison going to be a reassuring figure to the moderate white voters who often associate the GOP with thinly veiled racism. Best I can tell, the serial elevation of inflammatory African-American wingnuts to the front ranks of the Republican Party reflects a psychodrama wherein conservatives think it proves they are not racist if they promote someone with black skin who will echo their own beliefs and accuse liberals of being the real racists (you know, because they run a “plantation” of dependence on public assistance and are conducting a “genocide” of black babies via legalized abortion, etc., etc.).

Meditating on the Jackson candidacy as just the latest example of this syndrome, New York Times columnist Charles Blow took particular aim at the “plantation” meme, one of Jackson’s favorites:

While these politicians accuse the vast majority of African-Americans of being mindless drones of the Democrats, they are skating dangerously close to — if not beyond — the point where they become conservative caricatures.
The implication that most African-Americans can’t be discerning, that they can’t weigh the pros and cons of political parties and make informed decisions, that they are rendered servile in exchange for social services, is the highest level of insult. And black politicians are the ones Republicans are cheering on as they deliver it.
Now who, exactly, is being used here?

Beyond that, who is being served? Presumably Republicans whose idea of “African American Engagement” is to tell black folk they are morally depraved dupes, and themselves that those people are getting their just desserts.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.

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