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June 11, 2005
Maryland Dems: Dean Has More Authority On Race Than Michael Steele?

The Maryland Democratic Party wants Lt. Governor and GOP Senate candidate Michael Steele to apologize for endorsing a book that encourages Republicans to challenge Democrats for African-American votes, describing the author as "divisive". Meanwhile, they refuse to call for Howard Dean to apologize for statements from his own mouth about Republicans being racist:

The Maryland Democratic Party is calling for an apology from Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele for endorsing a book by an author who accuses Democrats of exploiting blacks but is declining to seek an apology from national party Chairman Howard Dean for describing Republicans as a 'white Christian party.'

'I don't think there is a double standard,' said Derek Walker, spokesman for the state Democratic Party.

Maryland Democratic Party Chairman Terry Lierman, who has initiated a petition drive for Mr. Steele's apology, was unavailable for comment yesterday.

The book, Back to Basics for the Republican Party, reminds Republicans of their anti-slavery legacy and urges them to return to their roots to compete for the African-American vote. The Democrats conflate the book with supposedly inflammatory rhetoric from speeches made by its author, Michael Zak, in order to create a fresh race-card controversy in Maryland's Senate race. The letter that accompanies the petition points out these passages and accuses Steele of endorsing "dangerous, deceptive, and racially divisive commentary":

"Mastery over blacks has always been Democratic Policy. Before it was cotton. Now it is misery." ... "Democrats are socialists and we should call them socialists. It's to the Democrats' advantage children grow up poor and uneducated."

The second quote doesn't even mention race, and while I haven't read Zak's speech, I'd bet that he didn't intend on limiting that sentiment to simply black children. It is harsh rhetoric, but the speeches have nothing to do with the book. Perhaps Steele should clarify his endorsement of the book to make that distinction, but Steele wasn't the person making the statements in the first place.

On the other hand, the Maryland Democrats refuse to disavow the statements made by their own party chairman on matters of race and politics. Howard Dean has said that the Republicans are the party of "white Christians" and that the only way they can increase the number of people of color attending their events is to hire more serving staff. It's difficult to imagine more "deceptive and racially divisive commentary" than those quote, and yet the Maryland Democrats stand behind Howard Dean. They don't see anything wrong with what he said.

In other words, Maryland Democrats would have us believe that a white ex-governor from Vermont who never put an African-American on his senior staff in three administrations has more authority to speak on racial matters than an African-American Southerner.

I'd ask where the White Rabbit went, except that the clueless Democratic dolts in Maryland would accuse me of making a racist reference.

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Posted by Ed Morrissey at June 11, 2005 9:43 AM

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