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Balanced Fare: We Report, You Deride

Tuesday, January 28, 2003



From The Sublime To The Ridiculous

I am absolutely unable to believe that Josh Marshall reads his own blog. Let me present consecutive posts.

First, a very sensible appraisal of the situation in Iraq, including a link to his compelling Washington Monthly article. This is the Sublime bit, for those of you unnerved by my cryptic presentation style, and it makes clear that Mr. Marshall is well capable of organizing his thoughts around a complicated subject.

Second, in the adjacent post, we have this:

In the January 25th issue of The Economist, in article on Republican 'outreach' to minorities, the author notes that "the Democrats will fight like hell to hold on to minority voters, who are the only people saving the party from oblivion."

One hears this line a lot, phrased in a variety of ways. And it is unquestionably true, so far as it goes. But what precisely does this mean? I'd figure that taking away 20% or 30% of a party's voters would pretty much always knock it on its heels. What's the subtext of this remark?

I don't think that I've ever heard anyone say that white men from the South and Mountain states are the only thing keeping the GOP from slipping to third party status. Have you heard that? I doubt it.

Even if it's not meant this way, I think the obvious subtext is that the Democratic party can't come close to winning elections in the white electorate and has to make up the margin with minority votes. I don't want to press the point too far. But I can't help feeling like the idea here is that minority votes are in some sense, well, how else to put it?, second-class votes. It's as though a party's political viability and health are best judged by how it fares in the white electorate.


OK, emphasis added. Now let's check this, also from Marshall's site, this time on January 20. Which author we can not say:

Now that's a catch!

From the presidency of Woodrow Wilson -- who, despite being admirable in other capacities, was an ardent segregationist -- until 1990, US presidents sent a wreath to the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery on Memorial Day to honor Jefferson Davis. The first President Bush stopped the practice in 1990. But, according to Time.com, this President Bush restarted that tradition when he became president in 2001...


OK, it is the now discredited TIME story. But what else did Marshall say?

More to the point, Hines is a leading neo-Confederate and the former Managing Editor of the Southern Partisan, the crypto-racist magazine which is the venue of choice for Republican politicians looking to cater to the neo-confederate yahoo vote.

...Now at this point I was going to continue on with the post and explain how this is the White House -- probably Karl Rove, actually -- talking out of both sides of its mouth. First they denounce Trent Lott for his nostalgia for the segregationist past. Here they're pandering to these neo-Confederate yahoos. But you know how that post would unfold, right? So let's just pretend I wrapped the post up like that and get on to the fun stuff. Deal? Great. Here goes ...


And here we stop. Marshall has played this "Republicans cater to racists" tape so often, he takes for granted that we know all the words. Yet a mere six days later (OK, it is timestamped 2:36 AM, maybe he was sleep-typing), he informs us that he has never heard anyone suggest that the Republican Party relies on "white men from the South and Mountain states".

Maybe he's kidding? I honestly can not even attempt an explanation.

Now, as to his question, why do the Economist, and others, focus on minority voter - don't they count too?

Again, we must presume he is kidding. If a party is reliant on a particular voting bloc, that may predict some of its positions and priorities. And, as a minor example, this reliance on ethnic votes may explain the desperate race-baiting of the Democrats.

Or, as another example, we often see the politics of the Religious Right dissected with curiousity. Perhaps the Christian Right are viewed as second class citizens not really to be trusted with the responsibility of voting, since they are guided by... Fundamentalism!

Or perhaps this is absurd. Well, Marshall is, for reasons that elude me, good on Iraq. His peculiar brand of partisanship makes him somehat less helpful on other issues.


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