Monday, January 05, 2009

Rush And Rush On Race

In the 1980s, then-(Republican) Governor Tom Kean of New Jersey, in a bid to increase tourism, would go on television and proclaim "New Jersey and You: Perfect Together."

Similarly, there are what at first appear to be odd political couples, but hardly odd at second glance.

Take the Rushes- Bobby Rush and Rush Limbaugh. As Politico reported on December 30, U.S. Representative Bobby Rush of Chicago has argued that Roland Burris, selected by (arrested but not indicted) Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich to replace Mr. Obama in the U.S. Senate, should be seated in part because he would be the "only black" in the upper chamber. Rush- the only individual ever to defeat Barack Obama (that for the U.S. House)- brazenly injected race into the issue, declaring "I would ask you not to hang or lynch the appointee as you try to castigate the appointor."

The African-American Rush has been taken to task by what Repub pundits, talk show hosts, and politicians, unrestrained by a sense of reality, refer to as the "liberal media." But he is not the only Rush who has used the face-off between Senate Majority Leader (and the Democratic caucus) Harry Reid and Blagojevich/Burris to wallow in the muck of racial division and fear.

Rush Limbaugh, predictably, has gotten into the act (both figuratively and literally). On his syndicated radio program today, Limbaugh huffed

As I said earlier today, Mr. Burris, if Harry Reid will not seat you, go to Denny's. They will seat you if Harry Reid will not. Try this. Harry Reid calls Blagojevich, and Blagojevich then spills the beans, and Harry Reid is now calling Blagojevich a liar, so is Dick Durbin. Reid calls Blagojevich, says, (paraphrasing) "I don't want Burris, I don't want Jesse Jackson Jr. and I don't want Emil Jones," the godfather of Obama. They all happen to be black. This is a seat occupied by a black, Obama, although an inauthentic black, according to David Ehrenstein of the Los Angeles Times and others. And so Dingy Harry says, "I don't want these three guys." If a Republican called a governor and said, "Don't give me three people who are black," can you imagine? I want Tammy Duckworth or I want Lisa Madigan, I want a white woman in there, said Dingy Harry. And Dingy Harry made a ridiculous, humorous attempt to show that he's not racist on Meet the Press yesterday by saying, (paraphrasing) "Hey, I searched high and low to find a black woman to make a federal judge," and he lied about that.... This is Democrats denying a black man duly appointed by a sitting governor in the state of Illinois, a seat in the United States Senate. Once again it's Democrats engaging in blatant racism.

Leave aside- at least for now- 1)the cheap shot at Denny's Restaurant chain, which has implemented an aggressive affirmative action program as a settlement for their now-discarded practice of avoiding serving black patrons; 2) the "Dingy Harry" cheap shot, a characterization which presumably appeals to his "dittoheads," who proudly proclaim their disinterest in independent thought; and 3) the suggestion that if the GOP similarly showed what Limbaugh argues is disfavor toward a black, that it would be roundly condemned- yet another example of "us poor, put-upon Republicans" donning the cloak of victimhood.

Limbaugh has charged Democrats with "blatant racism" and Reid with basing on race his opposition to seating Burris. Is it even conceivable that it would have escaped Rush's attention that Reid might be thinking not race, but electability? That the Senate Majority Leader has an intense interest in maintaining for his party a majority in the chamber he heads? No, it is not conceivable.

Had Harry Reid agreed to lend his support to seating Mr. Burris, would Rush Limbaugh have commended him- or even neglected to criticize him? If Blagojevich not been under investigation and selected Jesse Jackson Jr. or Emil Jones to serve as Illinois' junior United States Senator, would Limbaugh have avoided the temptation of criticizing the nomination as that of an ultra-liberal from scandal-ridden Chicago politics? But with the Democratic majority in the United States Senate balking- thus far- at seating Roland Burris, Rush is given an opportunity to pose, however transparently, as an opponent of racism, even with no evidence for the charge.

Disingenuousness has always been the stock-in-trade of Rush Limbaugh, and it is only fitting that he and a former prominent Black Panther have now linked arms in the dishonest and divisive muck of race-baiting.

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