Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Bet Obama And The DNC Didn't See THIS Coming

I know, that could be any number of different things when it comes to Obama and Co. But in this case, I am referring to this NY Times article, Black Hopefuls Pick This Year in G.O.P. Races. Holy canoli, I didn't see it coming, either, though there were some signs.

Take for instance this African American Tea Partier being asked by an NBC reporter (oh, there's a shocker) if he felt uncomfortable. Here is his answer:

"These are my people."

That seems to be the refrain running through this article as well:
Among the many reverberations of President Obama’s election, here is one he probably never anticipated: at least 32 African-Americans are running for Congress this year as Republicans, the biggest surge since Reconstruction, according to party officials.

The House has not had a black Republican since 2003, when J. C. Watts of Oklahoma left after eight years.

But now black Republicans are running across the country — from a largely white swath of beach communities in Florida to the suburbs of Phoenix, where an African-American candidate has raised more money than all but two of his nine (white) Republican competitors in the primary.

Let me stop right there to remind people why there would have been more African Americans running during Reconstruction. Lincoln was a Republican. That's the short answer. But this is not Reconstruction, so what's the deal? This is:
Party officials and the candidates themselves acknowledge that they still have uphill fights in both the primaries and the general elections, but they say that black Republicans are running with a confidence they have never had before. They credit the marriage of two factors: dissatisfaction with the Obama administration, and the proof, as provided by Mr. Obama, that blacks can get elected.

“I ran in 2008 and raised half a million dollars, and the state party didn’t support me and the national party didn’t support me,” said Allen West, who is running for Congress in Florida and is one of roughly five black candidates the party believes could win. “But we came back and we’re running and things are looking great.” (Photo by Allen West Photostream.)

But interviews with many of the candidates suggest that they felt empowered by Mr. Obama’s election, that it made them realize that what had once seemed impossible — for a black candidate to win election with substantial white support — was not.

“There is no denying that one of the things that came out of the election of Obama was that you have a lot of African-Americans running in both parties now,” said Vernon Parker, who is running for an open seat in Arizona’s Third District. His competition in the Aug. 24 primary includes the son of former Vice President Dan Quayle, Ben Quayle.

Princella Smith, who is running for an open seat in Arkansas, said she viewed the president’s victory through both the lens of history and partisan politics. “Aside from the fact that I disagree fundamentally with all his views, I am proud of my nation for proving that we have the ability to do something like that,” Ms. Smith said.

That sentiment I can appreciate. I imagine it does bring a lot of pride to a number of people that Obama got elected since he is biracial, but that, in my opinion, is not enough reason to vote for someone. Still, I get her point. And good for her, as well as the other GOP hopefuls for stepping up:
State and national party officials say that this year’s cast of black Republicans is far more experienced than the more fringy players of yore, and include elected officials, former military personnel and candidates who have run before.

Mr. Parker is the mayor of Paradise Valley, Ariz. Ryan Frazier is a councilman in Aurora, Colo., one of four at-large members who represent the whole city. And Tim Scott is the only black Republican elected to the South Carolina House of Representatives since Reconstruction.

“These are not just people pulled out of the hole,” said Timothy F. Johnson, chairman of the Frederick Douglass Foundation, a black conservative group. That is “the nice thing about being on this side of history,” he said.

He added that the candidates might be helped by the presence of Michael Steele, the chairman of the Republican National Committee who is black and ran for the Senate himself in 2006.

“Party affiliation is not a barrier to inspiration,” Mr. Steele said in an e-mail message. “Certainly, the president’s election was and remains an inspiration to many.”

But Democrats and other political experts express skepticism about black Republicans’ chances in November. “In 1994 and 2000, there were 24 black G.O.P. nominees,” said Donna Brazile, a Democratic political strategist who ran Al Gore’s presidential campaign and who is black. “And you didn’t see many of them win their elections.”

No, these are not "fringy players" at all. But why Donna Brazile, who ran a flawed, FAILED campaign for a man who should have won in a slam dunk is considered a "strategist," is beyond me. I have never understood why in the world her opinion matters given her handling of Gore's campaign.

And I especially do not care what she has to say after the way she acted in 2008. I could write a whole other post on Donna Brazile and her nefarious tactics during the 2008 Primary, but let this term in regards to SC, FL, and MI suffice, "Nuclear Option." All of that is to say, I have zero respect for her or her opinion.

Though I do have more respect for this man's opinion:
Tavis Smiley, a prominent black talk show host who has repeatedly criticized Republicans for not doing more to court black voters, said, “It’s worth remembering that the last time it was declared the ‘Year of the Black Republican,’ it fizzled out.”

In many ways, this subset of Republicans is latching on to the basic themes propelling most of their party’s campaigns this year — the call for smaller government, less spending and stronger national security — rather than building platforms around social conservatism.

“Things have evolved,” said Newt Gingrich, the former speaker of the House, who is heavily involved in recruiting Republican candidates. “I think partly the level of hostility to Obama, Pelosi and Reid makes a lot of people pragmatically more open to a coalition from the standpoint of being a long-term majority party.”

Many of the candidates are trying to align themselves with the Tea Partiers, insisting that the racial dynamics of that movement have been overblown. Videos taken at some Tea Party rallies show some participants holding up signs with racially inflammatory language.

We know EXACTLY who those people were holding up racist signs at the Tea Parties, and they were NOT Tea Party members. It is disturbing to me the lengths people will go to demonize a group like this. I can only think they feel exceedingly threatened, and respond by acting like a bunch of thugs and punks. Nice the way the article slid that one in there, even though there are groups actively trying to infiltrate the Tea Party to discredit it. Not that you'd know that from this (it took me two seconds to get those links, something the writer might have tried). Along those lines, the article continues:
A recent New York Times/CBS News poll found that 25 percent of self-identified Tea Party supporters think that the Obama administration favors blacks over whites, compared with 11 percent of the general public.

The black candidates interviewed overwhelmingly called the racist narrative a news media fiction. “I have been to these rallies, and there are hot dogs and banjos,” said Mr. West, the candidate in Florida, a retired lieutenant colonel in the Army. “There is no violence or racism there.”

Oh, oops. I wonder how the Media and Liberal Elite will deal with this claim? No doubt, they will tell these African Americans that they are wrong, that they just don't recognize the racism, or some other patronizing, arrogant, dare I say it, racist response, from people who have never been to a Tea Party rally.

But I digress. There is reason for these GOP hopefuls to be hopeful:
There is also some evidence that black voters rally around specific conservative causes. A case in point was a 2008 ballot initiative in California outlawing same-sex marriage that passed in large part because of support from black voters in Southern California.

Still, black Republicans face a double hurdle: black Democrats who are disinclined to back them in a general election, and incongruity with white Republicans, who sometimes do not welcome the blacks whom party officials claim to covet as new members.

This spring, Gov. Robert F. McDonnell of Virginia was roundly attacked for not mentioning slavery in his Confederate History Month proclamation, which he later said was a “major omission.” Black candidates said these types of gaffes posed problems in drawing African-Americans to their party, but also underscored their need to be there.

“I think what the governor failed to do was to recognize the pain and the emotion that was really sparked by the institution of slavery,” said Mr. Frazier of Colorado. “As a Republican, I think I have a responsibility to continue to work within my party to avoid those types of barriers. The key for the Republican Party is to engage every community on the issues they care about and not act as if they don’t exist.”

Yeah, that was stupid of McDonnell in a big way, but it is also a way for the Times to try and paint the Republicans with a broad brush of racism even while they are talking about African Americans running in the RNC. Not that it isn't an important issue - it is - but for it to be the concluding paragraph in a story about experienced, knowledgeable RNC hopefuls who are African American seems telling.

Is it just me, or has the writing at the Times become sloppier? Innuendo and unsubstantiated claims seem to have taken the place of actual journalism. I dunno - could just be me.

Anyway, it is an interesting element to the upcoming election about which we have heard very little. These are serious candidates running for serious positions. They have experience, they hold political positions now, and they are looking to make change. Just not the kind for which Obama and the DNC were hoping, no doubt. It will be interesting to see how these races play out in November.

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