Wednesday, January 21, 2009

More Limbaugh Nonsense

Disingenuous as ever, Rush Limbaugh, the day after inauguration of Barack Obama as President of the U.S.A.. briefly returned to his theme of Democrats as racists. On a rant about statements of broadcast journalist Tom Brokaw praising the election of Mr. Obama, Limbaugh stated

You are no different today than in the 1960s, except Mr. Brokaw conveniently forgets that the rednecks and bigots he's talking about were Democrats: Bull Connor, J. William Fulbright. All these segregationists were of the party that Tom Brokaw salivates over today.

Forget that Tom Brokaw, obviously a fan of our new President, does not "salivate" over the Democratic Party and rarely, if ever, does. it is only Barack Obama about which Brokaw was commenting, and frequently has. The Democratic Party to which Limbaugh refers was a party of urban, northern liberals and conservative southerners.... was a party including conservative southerners. Now, decades later, white southerners vote Republican and the Republican Party has become an arguably regional party based in the southeast while the Democratic Party has developed a more national appeal. And the GOP does not win in the south because of non-whites. Even in 1964- over 40 years ago- the Repub Party had assumed the mantle of the white right-wing of the South, as Barry Goldwater won five southern states (including 87% in Mississippi), his native Arizona, and no other.

Democrat Lyndon Johnson's effort on behalf of civil rights helped seal the deal for his party in the South, reflected in his comment after signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964 "we have lost the South for a generation" (insufficiently pessimistic as it was). The seeds were sown earlier, perhaps most poignantly when at the Democratic National Convention in 1948, Minnesota Senator Hubert Humphrey embarked on an (successful) effort to insert a civil rights plank in the party platform. The Dixiecrat Party was formed by segregationist Senator Strom Thurmond of South Carolina after Humphrey famously asserted

My friends, to those who say that we are rushing this issue of civil rights, I say to them we are 172 years late. To those who say that this civil-rights program is an infringement on states’ rights, I say this: The time has arrived in America for the Democratic Party to get out of the shadow of states' rights and to walk forthrightly into the bright sunshine of human rights.

And where did Hubert Humphrey end up? As Vice-President to Lyndon Johnson and Democratic presidential nominee in 1968. And Strom Thurmond? As a Republican Senator until he retired in 2002 at the age of 100. One of his biggest supporters, we recall, was Repub Senator- and Minority Leader- Trent Lott, who, at Thurmond's birthday party in 2002 infamously declared

I want to say this about my state: When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We're proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn't have had all these problems over all these years, either.

The Democratic Party is in the midst of a modest comeback in the south, partly because of a slight moderation in the region's politics, but probably due more to the growing political power of blacks. Meanwhile, Rush Limbaugh's invocation of the names Bull Connor and J. William Fulbright was completely in character. It was a part of his ongoing effort to tar the Democratic Party- and its voters, who nominated Barack Obama- with the brush of racism, in the only way Rush knows how- few facts, details, or context, but a lot of narrow-mindedness.

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