THIS WEEK IN G.O.P. OUTREACH

Posted in Rants on June 17th, 2009 by Ed

Perhaps Republicans, as elderly as most of them are, don't quite understand how the Series of Tubes works. Most of what one posts on the internet is for all intents and purposes permanent. Sure, we can scrub whatever we want from our own personal websites and blogs, but what we say on things like Facebook or comment sections of popular websites are like tattoos – a lasting testament to judgment both good and bad.

Last week an aide to South Carolina Attorney General Henry McMaster posted a humorous news item about a gorilla escaping from a zoo in Columbia. Rusty DePass, a long-time GOP activist in South Carolina and candidate for various state/local offices throughout the years, helpfully and hilariously noted, "I'm sure it's just one of Michelle's ancestors – probably harmless." Charming.

Shortly thereafter, a low-level functionary in the South Carolina GOP saw fit to Tweet the following:

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Note the "thumbs up" from Adam Piper, who has openly discussed throwing his name into the upcoming race for Governor in the Palmetto State.

Moving westward, a staffer for Tennessee State Senator Diane Black decided against the newfangled Twitter and used a good ol' fashioned email forward to send the following photo of our 44 Presidents:

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The quest to build a Big Tent appears to have hit a few snags. That's too bad, because the Michael Steele-led GOP was really starting to make some progress in appealing to non-white voters.

Wait. No they weren't. There was the Southern California GOP group that sent out a mailer in the style of a "food stamp" bearing the image of the President…along with watermelons, ribs, fried chicken, and Kool-Aid (note: I thought the stereotype was grape/strawberry soda. Am I so out of touch with contemporary racism?). And the California mayor who sent out the "White House watermelon garden" email from his government email account. Or the South Carolina mayor – lot of South Carolinians here, no? – who wondered aloud to his constituents if our Muslim President is the antichrist. Or the Georgia mayor who responded to the flap over Obama's lame gift to Gordon Brown and the rest of the British delegation by expressing relief that Obama had not given them Negro gifts like malt liquor and cigarettes. And who could forget "Barack the Magic Negro" as a campaign jingle for one Tennesseean's effort to win the chairmanship of the RNC? I'm sure there are other incidents I'm failing to extract from my memory at the moment.

These incidents underscore the challenges inherent in diversifying a party whose bedrock constituencies are nativists, unreformed segregationists, frothing-at-the-mouth anti-immigration zealots, and various other rural white people with Confederate flags on their bumpers. This leads me to ask an open question to America's Hispanic, Asian, and black Republicans: What the hell is wrong with you? Is this a race-based version of the "self-hating Jew" phenomenon? I am reminded of the calls for Michael Steele to resign which came from, among others, Dr. Ada Fisher, one of only three black members of the RNC. Dr. Fisher (who, by the way, backed South Carolina GOP Chair Katon Dawson, a segregationist who proudly belongs to a whites-only country club) complained about Steele's efforts to reach out to black voters:

"I don't want to hear anymore [sic] language trying to be cool about the bling in the stimulus package or appealing to D.L. Hughley and blacks in a way that isn't going to win us any votes and makes us frankly appear to many blacks as quite foolish."

Steele isn't making you appear foolish to black voters, Dr. Fisher. The simple fact that you are a Republican already accomplished that.