Saturday, February 01, 2003

Speaking of gullibility ...

This isn't quite as bad as l'affaire Lott in terms of racial insensitivity, but it is a case of gross fraudulence on the part of the GOP. It deserves getting wide play.

The African American Republican Leadership Council represents conservatives' best efforts to attract black voters to their cause. (Of course, it's interesting how they frame this at their Web site -- not so much an appeal to black Americans to the virtues of the GOP, but this: "The mission and purpose of the African American Republican Leadership Council (AARLC) is to break the liberal democrat stranglehold over Black America.") It is hard to tell exactly to what extent the AARLC is an official adjunct of the GOP (the AARLC does not appear on the RNC's links page at its official Web site), but the connection at least to the Republican cause could not be more clear.

It's been observed previously (by Josh Marshall and Atrios) that the AARLC is not exactly a paragon of racial sensitivity, offering abject apologies for Lott ("It was lighthearted, it was humorous," was how political-affairs chief Kevin Martin described Lott's now-infamous remarks). Moreover, the AARLC's "Advisory Panel" is comprised mostly of conservative white males, some of whom (particularly Paul Weyrich) are notorious for promoting white nationalism.

In today's Washington Post, Gene Weingarten takes a hilarious look at the AARLC that's worth reading all on its own:

Below the Beltway

Amid the laughs, this tidbit stands out:

The honorary chairman of the panel is listed as former U.S. senator Edward W. Brooke III, a Republican from Massachusetts. So I called up Brooke, who confirmed the important fact that he is black.

Alas, he is not in any way associated with the group. He said he'd never heard of it and had no idea why his name was on the site.

In other words, someone in the Republican camp, in devising the GOP's outreach for black Americans, became so desperate to place a black person -- any black person -- at the head of this operation, that they chose a former senator and just plugged in his name. Without asking his permission to do so. Or even making him aware of the existence of their work. Assuming that Brooke would be a good "boy" and play along if anyone asked. And assuming that the public would not be any the wiser.

The cynicism is breathtaking. It's hard to tell for whom these Republican officials have less respect: Sen. Brooke, or the American public. In either case, they are being scammed.

This is precisely the same mindset that was at work when White House officials "leaked" to the Washington Post the tale that Condoleeza Rice had played a large role in Bush's decision to attack affirmative action at the University of Michigan. Of course, as noted earlier, it turned out that was a lie.

Just how stupid does the GOP think blacks are? How stupid does it think the rest of the public is? Pretty damned stupid, apparently.

Here's how Weingarten's piece concludes:

A mere week after I called Kevin and expressed my concerns that this Web site seemed, y'know, a little Uncle Tomish, suddenly the site was changed. Now, in addition to Bush and Reagan, there are also pictures of Condoleezza Rice and Colin Powell. And there is an announcement that the AARLC salutes its new national director, a black Republican named Sherman Parker.

I reached Parker, 31, in Jefferson City, Mo., where he had just been sworn in as a first-term member of the Missouri House. He was a little surprised to find out that he was the new national director of the AARLC, because, he said, he hadn't agreed to take the job yet, and, in fact -- though he had spoken to the group about representing it -- he was still unfamiliar with its goals and had never seen the Web site.

[Credit, as always, goes to Atrios for spotting this.]

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