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February 20, 2005

No Wonder Al Franken Turned Tail and Ran From John O'Neill (Hoke)

Franken prefers a forum where rebuttal is impossible

The better to lie:

It's harder to find real achievements in the years since the Dixiecrats jumped the aisle, fleeing the old Democratic Party of Eastland, Stennis and Russell to their sunny home in the new Republican Party of Goldwater, Helms and Trent "We-Wouldn't-Have-Had-All-These-Problems" Lott.

Stennis served as senator from Mississippi until 1989; Eastland until 1979; Russell until 1971. All as Democrats. West Virginia's Robert Byrd still serves today, as a Democrat, occasionally dropping the "n" bomb. South Carolina's Ernest Hollings - of "wetbacks" and "darkies" fame - just retired LAST YEAR as a Democrat.

This is typical Republican race-baiting: the cynical use of race to push an agenda. Take the confirmation battles over Condoleezza Rice and Alberto Gonzales. When Democrats held up the confirmations for reasons (lies, torture) clearly having nothing to do with their race or ethnicity (black, Latino), Republican officeholders and commentators accused Democrats of racism.

Which Republican officeholders? Franken does not say.

As for commentators, I only know of Washington Post columnist Colbert King, who wrote:

Boxer said to Rice: "I personally believe -- this is my personal view -- that your loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war, overwhelmed your respect for the truth." Loyalty to the mission you were given, to sell the war. Ponder the weight of that statement. It comes close, at least in spirit, to the picture of Rice sketched by political cartoonist Pat Oliphant a few weeks ago. In case you missed it, Oliphant drew a big-lipped, bucktooth Rice perched like a parrot on President Bush's arm. Bush was speaking to Rice in baby talk, with Rice replying: "Awwrk!! OK Chief. Anything you say, Chief. You Bet, Chief. You're my HERO, Chief."

It's hard to imagine a more demeaning and offensive caricature of a prospective secretary of state, let alone the most senior official on the national security staff. It's equally difficult to understand what prompted Boxer to imply that Rice is little more than a diligent echo of Bush's thoughts. There's nothing in Rice's background or in her performance to suggest that she is a mindless follower of presidential orders. In fact, Rice comes across as just the opposite . . . But slurring her as a hollow-headed marionette controlled by Bush? What's that all about? It calls to mind John Sylvester, a white radio talk show host in Madison, Wis., who recently went Boxer and Oliphant one better -- or worse. "Sly," as he calls himself, went on the air and caricatured Rice as a servile black, laboring slavishly for the Bush White House. He called her, of all things, an "Aunt Jemima."

King also wrote My disagreement with the Bush administration on Iraq has been spelled out in past columns. I'm also a member of an editorial board that has been critical of administration policies -- and by extension, Rice -- on several foreign policy fronts. For example, when it comes to opposing oppressive regimes, this administration, despite its soaring rhetoric, has come up way short. But characterize Condoleezza Rica as a presidential stooge? Count me out.

As for race-baiting, it is Franken's stock-in-trade.


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posted by Ace at 11:19 AM

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