Tuesday, September 6, 2011

More GOP-Minority Outreach, Ctd.

A reader at TPM made an interesting point about perspectives and perceptions vis a vis President Obama and the Republicans.

When Boehner does something like this (that no previous Speaker has done to any previous President), when he refuses to return the President’s phone call during the debt ceiling crisis, when he skips state dinners, when he refuses to definitely say that he believes the President was born in the US or is a Christian, or when Boehner coddles a member of his caucus who shout “you lie” during a Presidential address, etc one certain thing happens – black Americans notice it.

African-Americans are especially sensitive to the unprecedented disrespect that white Republicans have afforded to the first black President. Every time it happens, it ripples across black radio, black newspapers, black websites, and in conversations in black communities. It helps cement the ties that Obama has with the black community, and helps overcome whatever doubts and disappoints some may have. It reminds people who have experienced overt racism in their own lives that the President is experiencing the same kind of dehumanizing disrespect. It will help drive strong African-American turnout and overwhelming numbers for Obama next year.

Political pundits may gossip about the rift between Boehner and Obama, but millions of black Americans see something much more sinister when this happens.

It’s not just black Americans who notice. A lot of people put a large stake in treating people, even your political opponents, with respect and courtesy. It’s an acknowledgement that even if you disagree with them, you do see them as worthy of basic human dignity.

But apparently that’s just too much for some people. Just this past weekend, Sen. Jim DeMint (R-SC) said he “wasn’t interested” in hearing the president’s speech this week, and Rep. Joe Walsh (R-IL) said he “didn’t want to be a prop” for the president. Aside from the fact that if Democrats had given that kind of lip to Ronald Reagan they would have been pilloried by every living pundit, this kind of blatant disrespect for the president has become part of the GOP package.

And they wonder why they can’t get traction in the minority communities.