I can’t say that I was at all surprised by some of the tactics we’ve seen recently from Republican presidential candidates in particular. Some may say that it’s expected given Republicans history with employing racial politics when necessary, and that the recent statements by someone like Newt Gingrich can’t be that shocking. Gingrich clip below:
He understands exactly what he is doing. Many would argue that some Americans on food stamps take advantage of the system. Some may, but determining the full extent is tricky. Also, unfortunately some Americans hold a belief that African Americans make up a majority of food stamp recipients(actually 33%). Blogger Joshua Green does a great job of explaining why critics of President Obama on this issue should look in the mirror:
The number of food stamp recipients has indeed risen sharply, but this rise began under President George W. Bush and is largely attributable to the recession. Food stamps are an anti-poverty measure, so it’s no surprise that enrollment should rise when large numbers of people are out of work (the number of recipients dropped last month as the economy improved). But recession isn’t the only cause. A Bush administration initiative begun in 2002 dramatically increased participation rates among eligible households, from 48 percent to 72 percent in 2009.
Couple that together with the fact that if he’s the Republican candidate, he would be facing off against the nations first African American President. Gingrich knew that the far right conservatives in South Carolina would eat it right up, and he went with it unfortunately. He’s not the first candidate to stoop to the racial politics of old.
The Jessie Helms “Hands” ad was one of the most memorable political ads of all time. It was both disgusting to watch, and sadly, very effective. The Republican Senator from North Carolina was in a tough re-election fight. His opponent was none other than up and coming Charlotte Mayor Harvey Gantt. Gantt was African American, and to Helms surprise, he was staying with him in the race. Helms had to drop a bomb, which he did. Racial politics was all too common in North Carolina at the time. Helms knew that he could play to peoples misconceptions about affirmative action, and use it as a wedge issue.
This next ad was unveiled by the Republican National Committee some years ago to attack Memphis Congressman Harold Ford, in his quest to defeat Republican Bob Corker in the Tennessee Senate race. Ford, like Harvey Gantt, was a young, ambitious African American politician that was on the rise. Ford came from a political dynasty, and though he was a Democrat, stayed moderate. This helped to position him to eventually run for the U.S. Senate, and he ran a very close race with Bob Corker. I believe the RNC aired this ad because they were afraid of a Harold Ford upset. Stoking some peoples hatred of interracial relations or dating seemed to be the strategy of choice for the Republicans. Unfortunately this classless tactic worked. Corker squeaked out a close win.
As the 2012 election nears, I only wonder what some of the Republican operatives have up their sleeve. They are very smart, and won’t present ads such as this unless the election seems to be extremely close. I think in 2012 it might be a little tough to produce ads that have such strong racial undertones. My prediction is that ads aired during the 2012 election will be a bit more discreet- just enough to not cause too much of an uproar. I’ll be watching, and analyzing.
I am intrigued at the prospects of Congressman Artur Davis being elected the first black governor of Alabama. If Barack Obama can win the White House, Davis can surely get elected in the state of Alabama, right?? While its a possibility, the dynamics are much different. First off, he must get past Agricultural Commissioner Ron Sparks in the Democratic primary.
President Obama only won 38% of the vote in Alabama, and only 35 % of the voters in Alabama approve of the job the president has been doing thus far. Davis’ success in his quest for governor depends largely on how successful he is at distancing himself from Obama, and conveying the message that he is focused on the voters of Alabama, and not whats going on in Washington. He must also show an independent streak, and prove that he has the skills necessary to be successful in working with the legislature. Even though Democrats control the house and senate in Alabama
, they happen to be conservative Democrats, and the Alabama legislature has been considered for a long time to be one of the most conservative legislatures in the country.
Artur Davis voting record has been moderate by most accounts, which puts him in a good position to run for a statewide office in Alabama. He voted no on the automobile bailouts, and climate change. He has also stood out in his opposition to healthcare reform as it stands. According to Mary Orndorff of the Birmingham News, Davis said that his opposition to the healthcare bill had to do with his concerns over Medicare and Medicaid. That may be legitimate, but I suspect that Davis wants to align himself with the voters of Alabama, in which a majority oppose the healthcare bill.
I checked out the Cook Political Report, and they still have pegged this race as leaning Republican. I my opinion, Davis still has a shot to pull off an upset. It is all on the voters of Alabama,and if they can put race aside and vote for the best candidate.
Just when you thought that President Obama and my fellow Democrats had a full plate, the Eric Massa scandal hits. For those of you that dont know, Massa is a first term Congressman from the 29th district in New York. He lost his first race for Congress by only 5,952 votes to former Republican Rep. Randy Kuhl in 2006. As is customary, Massa basically began campaigning right after his loss, to prepare for a rematch with Kuhl in 2008. In November 2008, Massa was elected by a slim 1.5 % margin over Kuhl.
You would think that Massa would understand that he needed to focus on constituents, fundraise, and prepare for a tough re-election. A normal person would have realized that any slip up would mean the end to a short political career. All of this went in one ear and out the other, as Massa resigned on Monday because of health concerns and a pending ethics investigation related to possible sexual harassment charges made by staffers.
It seems as if it was only a matter of time before some issues surfaced in regards to Massa. According to some Democratic insiders, Massa hired quite a few gay male staffers, and paid them so little that they were forced to all share living quarters with him. I just want to state that someones sexual preference is their business, and I’m just stating the facts of the situation. It seems that Massa’s inappropriate behavior has been going on for some time now.
According to The Atlantic Online, “Past shipmates of Massa are charging that he used his status as a commander to subject underlings to abusive sexual advances.” I am glad that he resigned, but I cant believe he has the nerve to be going on all these talk shows trying to say Rahm Emmanuel and the White House pushed him out of office because of his opposition to healthcare reform. In my opinion, that is simply an excuse used to try and save his shattered reputation. There are quite a few Democrats(many Blue Dogs)who opposed some pieces of the healthcare legislation, and while they may have received some tough calls from the White House, I’m sure no pressure to resign occured. The fact is that his improper behavior finally caught up with him, and he wasn’t man enough to accept that.
I’m resigned to the fact that a Republican will most likely regain this seat. I guess thats life.
One of the most interesting pieces of political news lately is the upcoming battle for the Democratic nomination for the senate seat in Arkansas. Lieutenant Governor Bill Halter has thrown his hat in the ring against incumbent Senator Blanche Lincoln. The results of the primary could give us an accurate view on how the electorate reacts to moderate Democratic incumbents.
Bill Halter has a very impressive resume to speak of. He studied economics and political science at Stanford University, then went on to complete his graduate studies at Oxford University in England. He is the former deputy commissioner of the social security administration, and also served as a senior advisor with the Office of Management and Budget (OMB). While at the OMB, he was a big part of the reason that President Clinton turned a 290 billion deficit into a 125 billion surplus while he was president.
His next move was to run for Lieutenant Governor, which was a successful endeavor. One would think that going up against an incumbent with the power that Blanche Lincoln has would be considered a suicide mission. In normal times it would be….but normal times these are not. Senator Lincoln has been getting a constant drumbeat of criticism from both the left and the right. Republicans are upset that she cast one of the deciding votes which allowed healthcare legislation to advance in the Senate. Liberal groups are enraged at her initial support, but later opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act. They also are none too pleased at Lincoln’s position on opposing a public option for healthcare.
Halter has used this anger from the left as a tool to raise huge sums of money for his campaign. Blanche Lincoln has 5.02 million on hand to use in the election. A few days after Halter announced he would challenge Lincoln, he received a million dollar campaign contribution from Moveon.org. Four labor unions(AFSCME, CWA, SEIU, Steelworkers) have each pledged 1 million a piece. Though Halter may lose, at least he will have the necessary funds to make this race interesting
Halter plans to run on a “anti-Washington, pro-Arkansas” platform, and highlight Blanch Lincolns cozy relationship with special interests, and her failure to take on these interests, and fight for Arkansas families. He will focus on change, and will cast himself as an elected official that will put the issues that Arkansas voters may have above those of the monied special interests. It’s possible that it may resonate, because according to a recent Rasmussen poll, 64% of people in Arkansas think it would be good if most incumbents are defeated in the November elections. In this same Rasmussen poll, it stated that Blanche Lincoln is pulling about 38-41% of voters when you match her up with the various Republicans she may run against in the general election. Bill Halter comes in around 33-38%.
Halter may give Lincoln a run for her money. My guess is that he may be a little to the left in terms of what Arkansas voters are comfortable with. Then again, they did elect him as Lieutenant Governor(a statewide office). We will wait and see what happens.