In their latest attempt to get Senate Democrats off their duffs and
approve President George W. Bush's nominees, Republicans are playing the
race card, accusing Democrats of "racial profiling" in stalling minority
candidates. Not that the Republican charges are wrong-they're not-but
the GOP ought to be careful when playing with fire.
For years, Democrats and their malicious cronies have mercilessly
maligned Republicans as racist bigots with a pathological hatred of
minorities. And the oh-so-convincing reply? "No we're not!" It would
be easy to point a finger at the media, and though they share some of
the blame, the real trouble lies within.
Republicans have been vilified as racists-pegged as responsible for
cross-burnings in a St. Louis ad, and who could forget the NAACP's
reckless and exploitative James Byrd ad against Bush last year-with such
frequency over the years that they now suffer from Battered Politician's
Syndrome. When hit with yet another charge of "racism", the best most
Republicans can muster is a meek and pathetic defense.
With this history in mind, Republicans should be wary of playing the
race card. They have not toiled for years making a case, which means
they must work much harder than any Democrat asserting the same claim.
In politics, attempting to use an issue belonging to the other party-a
Democrat pushing tax cuts or a Republican touting health care reform,
for example-is a painstaking process that requires enormous effort.
Witness Bush's tireless energies promoting K-12 reform during the
Presidential contest: with education as the centerpiece of his campaign,
Bush was merely able to wipe out the traditional Democratic advantage.
So when Republicans charge Democrats with "racial profiling", a
quaint political catchphrase with very real-world consequences for far
too many minorities, a typical 6-second sound bite is woefully
insufficient. The GOP must offer a legitimate theory as to why
Democrats are throwing roadblocks in the path of minority appointees,
and then continually reiterate that charge until they are blue in the
There is a compelling case to be made that Democrats are unfairly
targeting minority candidates in their zeal to maintain the illusion
that all people of color are big government aficionados.
In order to bring the truth to light, Republicans first need to pierce
the halo effect Democrats currently enjoy. The irony of the public
perception that Republicans, particularly conservatives, are the
intolerant bunch is that the philosophical underpinning of liberalism is
racist to the core.
Liberalism is the last refuge of racist scoundrels. Leftists bask in
identity politics, and they measure the content of people's character by
the color of their skin. Look at how Bill Clinton defined his
administration as the "most diverse in history". Sure there may have
been a lot of dark faces, but three-quarters of his high-level picks
were Ivy League-educated lawyers, hardly a "diverse" bunch, unless your
sole criterion is color of skin.
One of the most dangerous manifestations of liberals' ugly ideology is
that a person of color who strays from a leftist song sheet is a
so-called race-traitor. Of course most elected Democrats on Capitol
Hill are too slick to explicitly voice such a nasty slur, so they latch
on to fig leaf reasons. Take, for instance, the situation of Gerald
Reynolds, who was appointed by Bush to head up the Office of Civil
Rights in the Department of Education.
Jerry Reynolds is bright, principled, and extensively published. But
Reynolds has committed a mortal sin in the eyes of Democrats and their
small-minded minions: he has the audacity to be both black and
conservative. Sen. Ted Kennedy (D-MA) has meted out punishment by
allowing Reynolds' nomination to languish in committee, even though the
votes are there for him to get confirmed.
The stated rationales for holding up Reynolds' nomination run the
gamut from distortions to lies. Kennedy's cohorts have claimed Reynolds
opposes affirmative action-a distortion, and that he opposes Title IX
(the law requiring gender-equality in college sports)-a lie. When we
worked together at Center for Equal Opportunity, Reynolds was the first
person to teach me the distinction between racial preferences, which he
opposes, and affirmative action, which he supports. Preferences merely
look at race, and bonus points go to certain colors of skin. True
affirmative action, on the other hand, is about expanded recruitment and
retention efforts to create equality of opportunity. That Reynolds
holds the President's views on preferences and affirmative action, and
has never said anything publicly about Title IX, should not keep him
from the full Senate vote he deserves.
If Republicans persist in hitting Democrats for their pernicious
bigotry against conservative minorities, they must dig in for the long
haul. But if the tangible result is the confirmation of highly
qualified nominees like Jerry Reynolds, it's a cause worth fighting for.