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September 28, 2005
DNC Supports Race Baiting, Paper Of Record Misses It Entirely (Update)

When Charlie Rangel called George Bush "our Bull Connor", I didn't pay much attention to the comment. Rangel, after all, often issues ridiculous and deplorable statements, and the notion that anyone can compare the firehose-directing, dog-siccing racist of Birmingham with the President who has put African-Americans into such jobs as Secretary of State -- twice -- shows more than just a little disconnect from reality. It demonstrates a full-blown schizophrenia and paranoia that Rangel all too often vents in his scratchy voice.

A paranoid Rangel doesn't amount to news. Having the DNC back him up, as the New York Sun reports, is another matter entirely (subscription may be required):

The Democratic National Committee yesterday refused to distance itself from Rep. Charles Rangel's comparison of President Bush to an infamous Southern segregationist, Theophilus "Bull" Connor, remarks the Republican National Committee identified as "hate speech" and urged the DNC to repudiate. ...

The DNC chairman, Howard Dean, appeared yesterday at a campaign stop on the Upper West Side with the Democrats' mayoral nominee, Fernando Ferrer, who has supported Mr. Rangel's remarks.

Asked at the campaign appearance by The New York Sun to respond to Mr. Rangel's statement and the RNC's requests, Dr. Dean said: "I think the chairman of the RNC ought to be embarrassed for what his party has done to America the last five years. ... It ought to be Mehlman that's apologizing to the people of New York City." Dr. Dean made no reference to Mr. Rangel's statements.

George Bush's low approval ratings should give the Democrats the perfect opening to reclaim their status as a majority party. However, they have found themselves mired in a deeper funk than the GOP despite Bush's recent woes. This shows why; the people cannot put any trust into the knee-jerk hysteria that has gripped the Democratic Party. Fringe pols like Rangel used to play a useful role in keeping the International ANSWER/MoveOn conspiratorial weenies in harness while the party establishment would scold such behavior and present a more responsible image.

Now, however, the people in charge of the party have bought into the personal attacks, the conspiracy theories, and the outright insanity that the hothouses of the radical Left produce. Only an idiot could defend the notion that George Bush equals Bull Connor in any sense, only a nut would risk his own political reputation to try it, and only Howard Dean would be dumb enough to take the entire DNC with him.

Even more egregiously, the DNC claims it speaks for African-Americans as a group in supporting Rangel's contentions. I suspect that African-Americans who remember what people like Connor actually did to them and their families understand the difference between George Bush and Bull Connor. They may not agree with the President's policies, but they don't see Bush directing firehoses and siccing dogs on them when they congregate for demonstrations. They won't recall seeing black men and women as key aides to Bull Connor's regime in 1963, either. In other words, most African-Americans will see this statement and its support by Howard Dean for what it is: a baseless personal attack that not only makes the Democrats look like kooks, but demeans and diminishes the real terror that Bull Connor and people like him caused during the struggle for civil rights.

Do you suppose the DNC has tired of Howard Dean yet, or will it take a debacle in 2006 for them to ask him to MoveOn?

UPDATE: I noticed that the NY Times had a piece mentioning race as a factor in the Ferrer-Bloomberg contest for mayor. The Gray Lady gives a long analysis of the so-called "coded language" of comparing Ferrer's policies to those of David Dinkins, the last liberal New York mayor -- but mentions nothing about Ferrer's support of Rangel's "Bull Connor" comments:

A supporter of Fernando Ferrer accused one of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg's allies of using "coded, fear-mongering language" by linking Mr. Ferrer to former Mayor David N. Dinkins, raising a racial element in the mayoral race as the two candidates battle for the support of black voters.

Responding to a comment in The New York Times on Tuesday by a Staten Island congressman, Vito Fossella, that a Ferrer victory would mean going "right back to the antagonistic years under David Dinkins," Representatives Jerrold L. Nadler of Manhattan and Gregory W. Meeks of Queens released statements accusing him of using Mr. Dinkins, the city's only black mayor, to pit voters against one another.

"The Bloomberg campaign and Representative Fossella ought to know better than to inject this kind of coded, fear-mongering language into what ought to be a thoughtful debate about our city's future," Mr. Meeks said.

"For the Republicans to fall back on tired, divisive scare-mongering the way Representative Fossella did is to show that they will do anything, including sowing seeds of divisiveness, in order to retain control of City Hall."

So comparing the policies of Ferrer to Dinkins somehow equates to "divisiveness", while comparing the actions and personal motives of George Bush to Bull Connor equates to reality? The Democrats have lost their minds, and the New York Times keeps proving they never had theirs to lose at all.

UPDATE II: Michael Barone of US News and World Report e-mails:

There's one additional point that you might want to make in connection with the Democratic National Committee's comparison of George W. Bush with Bull Connor.

That is this: at the time of the police dogs and firehose incidents, CONNOR WAS A MEMBER OF THE DEMOCRATIC NATIONAL COMMITTEE. He was the single Democratic National Committeeman from Alabama.

Some Democrats like to pretend that all Democrats were for the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and all Republicans were against it. Just the opposite of the truth. Support for the Act was bipartisan, with Republicans like Senator Jacob Javits and Congressman William McCulloch taking the lead along with Democrats like Senator
Hubert Humphrey and Congressman Emanuel Celler. Most of the votes against were cast by Democrats. A larger percentage of Republican members than of Democratic members voted for the Civil Rights Act.

Sphere It Digg! View blog reactions
Posted by Ed Morrissey at September 28, 2005 6:02 AM

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