It was startling when Republicans Ted Cruz, Marco Rubio and John Kasich all sided with Democrats Hillary Clinton, Bernie Sanders, Rachel Maddow, leftist radical William Ayres and others to blame Donald Trump after Trump’s Friday rally in Chicago was stormed and ultimately canceled by disrupters who were organized by the extremist leftwing organization, Moveon.org.
Cruz, Rubio and Kasich seem these days to be more interested in scoring points with the media than in winning support from Republican primary voters. They have also helped perpetuate the panic among the Republican establishment that if Trump is the GOP nominee, the Republican Party will be painted as bigoted, racist and even Hitler-esque.
What they ignore is that those accusations will be made whether the GOP nominee is Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, John Kasich or Marco Rubio. Painting Republicans as racist dividers and worse is Chapter One of the popular political playbook, “Campaigning Against Republicans For Dummies.” Who can blame them? It often works.
In 2012, New York Magazine rounded up media reaction after a Mitt Romney speech, reporting that “Daily Kos wrote that Romney used ‘racist rhetoric,’ and Mediaite accused Romney of making a ‘naked appeal to the ‘welfare queen’ brand of racial and class resentment.’”
John McCain was accused of racism because he initially opposed a Martin Luther King holiday in Arizona. And in a debate against Barack Obama in 2008, McCain referred to Obama as “that one,” which was enough to label him a racist in the media.
Accusations of racism were many against George W. Bush, but the best-remembered example was after the Bush administration’s reaction to Hurricane Katrina. A CBS report in 2005 quoted University of Maryland professor Ron Walter saying, “Black people are mad because they feel the reason for the slow response is because those people are black and they didn’t support George Bush.”
Bob Dole? The New York Times reported during the presidential campaign of 1996 that “in Tucson on Saturday night, Mr. Dole was confronted by a group of students angry about racial incidents that they attributed to the (Kappa Sigma) fraternity, which Mr. Dole joined more than a half-century ago in Kansas. ‘Bob Dole! Go Away! Racist! Sexist! Hey, hey, hey!’ they jeered in his face as he emerged from his car.”
George H.W. Bush? Anyone remember the Willie Horton ad? While not produced by the Bush campaign, the ad was aimed at Michael Dukakis, Bush’s opponent, and it focused on Dukakis furloughing convicted murderer Horton, who was black, an action soon followed by Horton raping and assaulting more victims. As MSNBC summed it up later, “Bush found himself defending his campaign against accusations of ‘racial overtones’” because of the commercial.
Ronald Reagan? On his website, journalist Bill Moyers includes a retrospective that quotes Berkeley law professor Ian Haney López as saying, “Yes, voters got the tax cuts they thought were aimed at cutting off undeserving minorities… Republicans for fifty years have been telling voters the biggest threat in your life is minorities are going to hijack government.”
Comparing Republican candidates to Hitler is another playbook item. A reader comment on the Moyers website from someone called “DaveOfThisWorld” says, “Back in the early days of Reagan’s presidency I worked at a place where one co-worker was an elderly German lady who confided in me that during the war she had been a member of the Hitler Youth. Reagan scared her mightily. She told me that he was so charismatic and charming that people did not know, or care about the racist context of what he was saying. Reagan reminded her of Hitler in this way.” Sound familiar, Trump supporters?
As Rubio, Cruz and Kasich attempt to score media points with their condemnation of Trump, they forget that the same accusations await them should they win the nomination. In fact, all three have already been accused of racism.
From our old friend Mediaite.com just last month: “A New York University journalism professor (Yvonne Latty) took to Twitter after she claimed two of her black students were kicked out of a Marco Rubio town hall event this weekend… ‘I also felt racially profiled. They did not want to let me into the #Rubio event even when I was given a press pass.’ Latty tweeted.”
Ted Cruz? Last September, Daily Kos legal writer Josie Duffy posted an open letter to Cruz, writing, “Dear Ted Cruz, You’re a racist… You’re not willing to take a stand on racist policing, because at the end of the day, you don’t care. It does not keep you up at night, does it, Senator Cruz? …That is the racism we talk about. That is the racist you are. You are the kind of racist that is also a coward.”
John Kasich? Amanda Marcotti, politics writer for Salon.com, wrote last month, “Kasich was already a huge proponent of putting harsh restrictions on welfare, an issue that has risen to prominence mainly because of racist urban legends about black people living indolently on food stamps instead of working. As governor of Ohio, Kasich made this racial subtext undeniable in 2014 and 2015, by targeting minority populations for food stamp cuts while letting white people keep getting their food stamps.”
In that same article Duffy let us know that, in fact, all Republican presidential candidates are racists. She wrote, “Under the circumstances, it’s tempting to contrast Trump with some of his Republican opponents, seeing in them the compassion and common sense that Trump lacks. It is also a mistake to do this, because they are different flavors of the same poisonous gruel.”
There may be reasons for Republicans to vote against Donald Trump, but worrying about accusations of bigotry and racism should not be one of them. He will be accused of being a racist. And so will Kasich, and so will Cruz, and so will Rubio, because it’s Chapter One in “Campaigning Against Republicans For Dummies.”
Reach Gary Abernathy at 937-393-3456 or on Twitter @abernathygary.