Racial Justices

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Over at Ragged Thots, Robert George of the NY Post (and, on occasion, Reason), reflects on the ways both Dems and Reps play the race card when it comes to judicial nominees. A snippet:

[Sen. Orrin] Hatch [R-Utah] uses the ABA ranking to make the case for [Priscialla] Owen and talks up her "outstanding legal ability" and "breadth of experience." Yet, for Judge [Janice] Brown, the focus has to be on her racial biography. Indeed, it's quite obvious that Republicans are happily working off the same set of talking points. Two Sundays ago, Sen. Jon Kyl [R-Ariz.] was on "This Week with George Stephanopolous." The conversation on judges had barely gone by a minute before Kyl was reminiding viewers that Brown was a "sharecropper's daughter from Alabama."

In a wider-ranging discussion of the matter, George concludes, "Democrats want minorities to succeed and grow up to be anything except conservative. Republicans want minorities to be conservative but are most content to highlight their up-from-sharecropping experiences (if they've got actual, non-racial/non-class attributes, well, that's okay too)!"

Whole thing here.

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  1. Two suppositions:

    -Republicans nominate minorities simply for the purpose of being able to whip out the race card if the Dems block them.

    -Democrats block minority nominees because they don’t want any more prominent minorities “stealing” their minority voter base.

    Yes, folks, these are the people running our country, making our laws. Don’t worry, you’re not the only one with a cold chill running down your spine.

  2. i find youthful cynicism keeps the chill a breezy mid 60s.

  3. As far as I am concerned, anything that devalues the race card is a good thing.

  4. Now that’s a damn good essay.

    As far as the supposed fear among Democrats that black and Hispanic nominees with “steal our base,” fuggetaboutit. Didn’t happen with Thomas. Didn’t happen with Powell. Not gonna happen. As Mr. George points out, these groups do not base their voting patterns on they type of herd politics that the Republicans attribute to them, but on issues and affinity with individual candidates – you know, sort of like everyone else.

  5. Good one, joe. Everyone knows that the single biggest predictor of which party you feel affinity with is which party your parents vote for.

    Pretending that Republicans are mindless bovines thundering hither and yon in response to primitive herd instincts, while Democrats ponder “issues and affinity with individual candidates,” presumably while wearing togas and declaiming in blank verse, manages to be both stupid and insulting at the same time.

  6. Withdraw that last snark, please. I see that I misread joe’s comments. The snark should be divided equally between me (for misreading) and any Republicans (and Democrats) who view minority voters as herds.

  7. the supposed fear among Democrats that black and Hispanic nominees with “steal our base,” fuggetaboutit

    Well, considering the fact that blacks and Hispanics agree with Republicans on school vouchers and “moral” issues, the Dems would be wise not to sit on their laurels. One thing that holds back the Republicans is the perception of tokenism and the dearth of minorities in the party. Once those “tokens” appear to be a normal part of the Republican parties and there’s more diversity in the Republican party, you’ll see a tipping point where the shift is slow and then an avalanche. There’s no good reason why Arabs or Muslims would vote for Republicans in greater numbers than blacks and Hispanics except for historical perceptions. As Dems saw with the South, that can change very quickly.

  8. RC,

    “Pretending that Republicans are mindless bovines thundering hither and yon in response to primitive herd instincts…”

    Try reading my post again, because it clearly went over your head. The key passage your misread is “these groups do not base their voting patterns on they type of herd politics THAT THE REPUBLICANS ATTRIBUTE TO THEM.”

    On the topic of “stupid and insulting at the same time,” I defer to you.

  9. Well, how “token” is it when the Republicans have had a number of senior staffers from all races, whereas the Kerry and Dean clans are very, very white.

    I think that Republicans are quick to jump on the race card, because they think that’s something the Dems can’t argue about. It’s a blatant attempt to use affirmative action politics against the Dems. Why bother having a long discussion about the merits of a candidate, when you can just shove affirmative action stereotypes down the throat of the biggest advocates.

  10. Mo,

    I agree that there may be some room for Republicans to poach voters based on policies and programs, and that the type of transparent tokenism and cynical race carding displayed in this judicial fight is harming their cause.

    But I have to disagree with this: “these groups do not base their voting patterns on they type of herd politics that the Republicans attribute to them.” African Americans are, on average, more urban, less wealthy, and less socially rightist than Arab Americans. Issues.

    And even when a group agrees with you on issues, the way a candidate or party frames that issue can discourage support. For example, most Americans agreed more with the Dems than the Reps on abortion policy in the 1990s, but the way the Democrats spoke about the issue, and the way the Repbulicans spoke about how the Democrats spoke about the issue, made people distrustful of the Dems. Even as a majority of black people agree with the GOP on gay marriage, the way Republicans talk about the issue can echo the way Jim Crow racists talked about racial equality. This goes to affinity with the candidate.

  11. “Well, how “token” is it when the Republicans have had a number of senior staffers from all races, whereas the Kerry and Dean clans are very, very white.”

    Funny you should mention that, Dean just hired the first black Chief Pollster in the major party history. One of the top positions at the DNC. No comparable Republicans in leadership positions.

    I think Bubba accurately captures the thinking behind the strategy of digging up black and Latino wingnuts to put on the federal bench. He also captures the failure to understand the Dems’ racial politics that is dooming the entire project.

    “You can’t oppose these candidates, because you claim that any opposition to a black candidate is racist!”
    “Um, no we don’t, and yes we can.”
    “Racist! Racist! Look everyone, a racist!” *sound of crickets chirping*
    “Look, Tyrone, those racists want to stop Janice Rogers Brown, but don’t worry, we’ll make your dream of a black female reactionary appeals court justice come true. See how much we’re down with the homies?”

  12. joe

    You might try reading all the posts before you rant.

  13. Sorry, RC, I tried to stop the comment from posting after I read you second post, but I wasn’t quick enough on the draw.

  14. Can we all just agree that neither party is covering itself in glory with the way it handles ethnic minority judicial nominees?

  15. Not until I’m given some reason to believe the Democrats are treating extremist wingnut nominees who are black or Hispanic any different from white extremist wingnut nominees. The only complaint I’m seeing is that Democrats AREN’T treating such nominees any different, even though they “should” be – which, of course, they shouldn’t.

    Are the Dems treating Brown differently from Owen?

  16. Joe, of course the Democrats aren’t treating Brown any differently than Owen. They’re both women and Democrats are sexist who don’t want professinal women to succeed (especially if one is the daughter of a sharecropper)! 😉

  17. Ha! I see joe fell for my clever ploy. Mwahaha.

    I second thoreau. I think both sides are equally cynical in their racial calculations.

  18. “Even as a majority of black people agree with the GOP on gay marriage, the way Republicans talk about the issue can echo the way Jim Crow racists talked about racial equality.”

    well, given what’s been happening at black churches in brooklyn – full on rallies with speakers proclaiming how insulted they are by the cooption of civil rights language by homosexuals – i don’t think it bothers some of them that much. the democrats – and i keep telling my poor city folk blue state friends this – are going to get bushwhacked over this.

    you’d be surprised at how much some blacks hate homosexuals, i think. fulton street booksellers at the mall offer many a tome about how white gays gave blacks aids – and are trying to destroy them – by tempting away the naturally oversexualized black males by offering sex and none of the strings that strong black women need.

    i fucking kid you not. i thought this particular bookseller – who explained this to me in depth, with particular relish for reasons i don’t fully understand outside of the small chance of a sale – was absolutely nuts, until i discovered the small cottage industry of “black women jilted by men on the DL and just need to find a goddamn professional who won’t go faggy on them” style romance/revenge novels.

    it’s pretty sickening, all things considered.

  19. If the nominations of Rice and Gonzales (and Rogers) were to be viewed cynically, one might argue that these were ostentatious shows of diversification by a political party still (somewhat unfairly) viewed as overwhelmingly white-bread and insular, and trying like hell to overcome that image.

    How ironic that the party most opposed to affirmation action would work so hard to appoint minorities to key positions of visibility! (If one viewed these appointments cynically, of course.)

  20. I was the son of a poor black sharecropper.

  21. And I had to walk to school every day—uphill both ways.

  22. Shit, if there are a bunch of black chicks out there who are lookin’ for some lovin’ and want someone who won’t “go faggy” on them, then I’ll sign up. There are definitely some fine-ass sisters out there.

    Of course, for some reason they don’t go for my white ass. There was this one time, though…

  23. Hands off our women, Whitey.

    And, uh, what are you doing later on?

  24. dhex, I’m well aware of the opposition to gay rights in the black community. My point was, that opposition doesn’t necessarily translate into support for homophobic politicians if those politicians come off as being Strom Thurmond, with “queers” cut and pasted where “negroes” used to be.

  25. Curse you, RC Dean! Curse you, and your line unto the 10th generation!

    *mutter mutter diabolical bastard*

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