Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Not right enough

-- by Dave

Well, we've been hearing ever since the 2006 election from right-wing stalwarts that their problems with the electorate were that they weren't far enough to the right.

And surveying the GOP presidential field -- one in which an extremist like Ron Paul can come off seeming sane and moderate -- I'd have to say they seem all to have been listening.

So now the clucking old chickens of the far right are coming to roost in places like South Carolina, where Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham is apparently about to face a primary fight from a fellow named Buddy Witherspoon, a GOP national committeeman and, as SJ Reidhead at Blogcritics reports, a stalwart of the Council of Conservative Citizens:
Unfortunately, he forgot to mention an alleged previous involvement with the KKK and his membership in the ultra right wing Council of Conservative Citizens. Over the years he has resisted all calls and demands from the SC GOP establishment to resign from the CofCC, which has strong ties to the white supremacist organization, Stormfront. According to an article in the New York Times, “…“…A member of the Republican National Committee told state Republicans that he was severing his bond with the Council of Conservative Citizens. This official, Buddy Witherspoon, told the state party's executive committee on Saturday he would no longer be part of the conservative group. Mr. Witherspoon said: ''I am a Christian. I am a conservative. But one thing I am not is a racist.'' In January, Mr. Witherspoon refused a request by Jim Nicholson, chairman of the Republican National Committee, that he renounce his ties with the group.”

Unfortunately Witherspoon’s white supremacist ties do not end with the CofCC, which has been actively involved in efforts to separate Lindsey Graham from his Senate Seat. Witherspoon’s alleged KKK ties would, if he were elected, make him “the farthest right member of the South Carolina delegation and possibly the entire US Senate.” Over the years Witherspoon has been an honored speaker at various CofCC events.

...Early supporters of Buddy Witherspoon also include former GOP President hopeful and alleged white supremacist Pat Buchanan and lame duck Colorado Congressman and current Presidential hopeful Tom Tancredo.

And what earned the wrath of the far right? Why, Graham's apparent "weakness" on the immigration front:
Several months ago, Senator Lindsey Graham earned the ire of many of the more extreme anti-immigration organizations and supporters including the powerful and prestigious US Immigration Reform PAC run by Mary Lou Tanton, wife of noted anti-immigration “puppeteer” John Tanton. “…U.S. Immigration Reform Political Action Committee (USIRP), which helped defeat Sen. Spencer Abraham, R-Mich., in the 2000 general election over his pro-illegal alien voting record, announced today it will target senators for defeat again in 2008. "The top senator we want to defeat is Lindsey Graham R-SC…" says USIRP communications director Phil Kent…. Kent said the group will also "assess the yes votes of all senators regardless of party, and will target incumbents in either their primary or general election campaigns, whichever is appropriate…”

Witherspoon is hardly the only Republican from the South to play footsie with the CofCC and other neo-Confederates. Those who've done so include Sen. Trent Lott and Gov. Hayley Barbour of Mississippi, as well Tom Tancredo and Ron Paul.

Witherspoon's activism in the CofCC, however, is more than mere footsie: he's an organizational bigwig. And it's been going on for awhile; an SPLC report from 1999 mentions his participation even then.

Its conclusion was especially revealing in describing how the CofCC operates:
At a meeting of its Washington chapter earlier this month, attended by a representative of the anti-Semitic tabloid The Spotlight, hard-line white supremacists were plentiful.

One of them, describing himself as the best friend of George Lincoln Rockwell, founder of the American Nazi Party, summed up his views for the audience from the CCC podium.

"Be a Nazi," DeWest Hooker enjoined them. "But don't use the word."

That's how far to the right people like Lindsey Graham are being expected to proceed. Considering Graham's role in the Clinton impeachment fiasco, I'd just say karmic payback is a bitch: he helped gas up the bus that's about to take him plunging over the precipice of the far right.

And as Digby observes, it's making prospects for 2008 very promising indeed. It's not likely, after all, that the public is going to get aboard a flaming wreck careering off a cliff.

Still, you have to wonder: Given the media's propensity for worrying that "Democrats are being pulled too far to the left by their base," where exactly is the reportage on this race? Will David Brooks and Joe Klein pen columns?

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