The Righteous Right's Foul-Up: The Fall-Out Begins

As I predicted here last week (sigh), the Democrats enjoyed a very merry Christmas (oops, make that "a jolly golly holiday") unwrapping the unexpected present gift-wrapped  for them by the Righteous Right punditariat (VDARE.COM comment: note in this December 24 Chicago Sun Times column, John O'Sullivan's first public criticism of National Review - v-e-r-y i-n-t-e-r-e-s-t-i-n-g!) in its frenzy to condemn Trent Lott for his 100th birthday party effusion, which most Democrats had been willing to ignore.

With the enthusiastic aid of the liberal media, Democrats are now setting about delegitimizing both a large portion of the GOP base and the last 38 years of GOP history.

Indeed, the biggest problem facing the Democrats is an overly target-rich environment. There are lots of Lotts among Republicans. Like a barracuda approaching a school of sardines, the Democrats are having trouble staying locked on a single victim.

Should they pursue Attorney General John Ashcroft, Senator George Allen (R-VA), Senator Jeff Sessions (R-AL), Congressman Cass Ballenger (R-NY), Senator Conrad Burns (R-MT), or even male ingénue Bill Frist (R-TN) (who was chosen to replace Lott in part because he'd never run for office until 1994—or even voted until 1988—and thus has had little time to develop a rap sheet of "insensitive" statements)?

And the main response that GOP publicists like the Wall Street Journal editorial page (December 28) can think of is—Lott-style witch hunts against Democrats like Robert Byrd!

Gentlemen, why is it necessary to remind you that the Republican Party cannot win a war of attrition fought on this particular battlefield?

But at least bashing Byrd is a better Republican response than mass purges of Republican officeholders–which, incredibly, is what WSJ Editorial Page staffer Brendan Miniter is calling for (December 23):

"Trent Lott is gone as leader, but if the GOP wants to prove its commitment to equality, it will have to find the little Lotts who lurk about in the party and make sure they no longer feel welcome."

The longer-term fallout will be to delegitimize the Southern Strategy that has served the Republicans well for decades. Indeed, the Washington Post just came up with a new name for the Southern Strategy: the GOP's " racially tainted recent past."

Time Magazine's Jack White announced:  

"The sad truth is that many Republican leaders remain in a massive state of denial about the party's four-decade-long addiction to race-baiting. Republicans won't make any headway with blacks by bashing Lott if they persist in giving Ronald Reagan a pass for his racial policies. The same could be said, of course, about such Republican heroes as, Barry Goldwater, Richard Nixon or George Bush the elder, all of whom used coded racial messages to lure disaffected blue collar and Southern white voters away from the Democrats. Yet it's with Reagan, who set a standard for exploiting white anger and resentment rarely seen since George Wallace stood in the schoolhouse door, that the Republican's selective memory about its race-baiting habit really stands out."

Lott, Reagan and Republican Racism, Dec 14, 2002

The trick is to pound in that—although white Southerners' votes are technically equal to all others—everyone who is acceptable in polite society knows that's just some legal loophole in the Constitution. Nice people know it is immoral to pursue white Southerners' votes.

Democrats are locked into affirmative action and other racial policies that are detrimental to the interests of the white four-fifths of electorate. So it's extremely convenient for Democrats to rewrite history and rule out of acceptable discourse all of those issues—which otherwise help Republicans win.

The beauty of this trick is that zero facts or logic are required. The goal is not to win a debate, but to prevent debate from ever taking place.

The Washington Post provided a classic example of this delegitimization in its December 22 front-page story "GOP Pins Its Future on Wooing Minorities."

For example, Thomas B. Edsall wrote, campaigning against racial quotas helped Jesse Helms' win a tough Senatorial race in 1990.

"In 1990, media consultant Alex Castellanos produced the Helms reelection commercial showing a white man's hands ripping up a job rejection slip as the narrator said, 'You needed that job . . . but they had to give it to a minority.' … Castellanos, [send him mail] asked if he would use in 2004 an ad along the lines of his famous 'white hands' commercial of 1990, said: 'The world has changed. That was 100 years ago—longer.'"

In fact, of course, the 1990 commercial was simply telling the literal truth. The whole point of racial preferences is to give jobs to minorities that otherwise would have gone to whites. That's indisputable.

But now opposition to affirmative action has been redefined as part of that "racially-tainted" Lott era.

Two months after the election triumphs of November—victories won essentially by what VDARE.COM calls the "Sailer Strategy," getting more whites to show up at the polls, especially in the South—the Righteous Right commentariat appears to have succeeded in demoralizing Republican campaign managers, always a mindless bunch, and in inflicting a permanent wound on its own party.

[Steve Sailer [email him] is founder of the Human Biodiversity Institute and movie critic for The American Conservative. His website www.iSteve.blogspot.com features his daily blog.]

December 29, 2002