Republican National Committee Chairman Michael Steele and Al Sharpton, whom he recently called a "friend" and a "strong leader", have found new common ground: opposing immigration enforcement.
Sharpton called the Arizona's new tough immigration law "an affront to the civil rights of all Americans and an attempt to legalize racial profiling." In classic fashion, he is encouraging organized lawbreaking in the form of "freedom walkers" who "will bring people from all over the country to Arizona to be freedom walkers. Where we will walk down the streets with no ID and submit ourselves to arrest." [Rev. Sharpton calls for immigration 'freedom walks', Carolina Leid, WABC NY, April 25, 2010]
Steele was more circumspect—slightly. He told a group of Hispanic lawmakers in a private meeting:
"As someone who has been the victim of racial profiling, there must be a necessary sensitivity to that issue. And understanding that any perception of racism in law becomes racism in fact for the individual who is the subject of that law. And so that is an important aspect of this law as well that I know our leadership is very, very sensitive to."
While opposing immigration law enforcement, Steele called for a "comprehensive policy" on immigration that "takes in mind first and foremost the family, that recognizes that this is not a nameless composition." Hmm, I wonder what that means. [Steele talks immigration policy in meeting with Hispanic activists, Peter Hamby, CNN Political Ticker, April 26, 2010]
Steele spoke at Al Sharpton's National Action Network conference earlier this month. The RNC was listed as a sponsor, which NAN's program listed required a contribution of at least 5,000 dollars.
(When the National Legal and Policy Center highlighted this, RNC spokesman Doug Heye told National Review Online, "The committee did no such thing. Chairman Steele was asked to speak and accepted—as former speaker Gingrich did last year—and a committee staffer participated in a roundtable. The RNC did not contribute any monies to the conference." I find this believable as Sharpton understands that having the RNC listed as a sponsor gives him more credibility as a national leader rather than the unscrupulous race hustler that he is. [Did the RNC Pay Money to Al Sharpton's National Action Network, Kathryn Jean Lopez, National Review Online, April 19, 2010])
Steele justified his appearance as means for doing outreach to African Americans, which he claimed was his main goal upon assuming chairmanship.
But if Steele really cared about outreach, restricting immigration would be far a better way to attract black voters than giving the GOP an "off the hook…hip hop makeover." According to a February 2010 Center for Immigration Studies/Zogby poll, 68% of black voters said we had too much immigration, and just 4% said we did not have enough. When asked if they supported "granting legal status and a pathway to citizenship" or "enforcing the law and causing them to go home over time" 50% supported enforcement while only 30% supported legalization. [An Examination of Minority Voters' Views on Immigration, Steven A. Camarota, Center for Immigration Studies, February 2010]
But just like Sharpton, Michael Steele is more concerned about whining about racism than taking concrete steps to help African Americans.
Instead of talking about the negative effects immigration poses to the black community, Steele repeated the usual canards about racial disparities. There is no transcript of his talk, but Tucker Carlson's new news site the Daily Caller gave a detailed summary,
"Civil rights, equality on paper, the familiar story. But, of course, dreams do not reflect reality. When you were growing up, he asks the audience, did the American Dream feel like part of you, like it was your birthright? For many it did, he says. For many more it did not, 'and as you and I know, that dream has often been delayed and sometimes denied—and until our children are born thinking the American dream is their birthright, it will remain that way.' Moreover, he adds, it will remain that way until the children have access to fair and affordable housing, access to credit and capital, and voting machines that work. ('You didn't think I knew about that, huh')…
"By god, it could be Reverend Al up there at this point—and then Steele commits outright GOP treason and quotes, at length, from a litany of depressing statistics about the racial achievement gap—first delivered, he reveals at the end, on June 11, 1963, by John F. Kennedy himself. '[Radio and Television Report to the American People on Civil Rights, Video]Not much has changed,' he concludes, dropping the words slow and hard as an axe-head, 'In forty. Seven. Years.' Don't even ask about his follow-up statement on pervasive Justice Department bias."
In addition, Steele made jokes insulting to both the Republican Party ("Now, I don't know if any of you have ever had to turn an elephant, but the end you have to start with is not necessarily the best place to start") and Thomas Jefferson ("Thomas Jefferson must be saying to himself, 'How did a brother wind up in my office? [referring to the Maryland Lt. Governor's office where Jefferson may have occupied prior to full construction of DC]...Well, Sally Hemings knows how I wound up in that office!" [Michael Steele visits Al Sharpton at the NAN's National Convention, by Tim Heffernan, The Daily Caller, April 15, 2010]
The next week Steele spoke at DePaul University on April 20. When asked why African Americans should vote Republican, he responded "You really don't have a reason to, to be honest—we haven't done a very good job of really giving you one. True? True."
"We have lost sight of the historic, integral link between the party and African-Americans, This party was co-founded by blacks, among them Frederick Douglass. The Republican Party had a hand in forming the NAACP, and yet we have mistreated that relationship. People don't walk away from parties, their parties walk away from them.
For the last 40-plus years we had a 'Southern Strategy' that alienated many minority voters by focusing on the white male vote in the South. Well, guess what happened in 1992, folks, 'Bubba' went back home to the Democratic Party and voted for Bill Clinton." [African-Americans not given good reason to vote GOP, by Abdon M. Pallasch, Chicago Sun Times, April 20, 2010]
Almost every single word here is factually incorrect. Frederick Douglass had no role in founding the Republican Party. One of the founders of the NAACP was a Republican, but the rest were Democrats or socialists. As for the Republican Party "walking away" from blacks, the policies they pursued under Nixon, Reagan, and Bush were certainly more liberal than the views of Lincoln or Eisenhower. (Affirmative Action began under Nixon, after all). They just were not as radical as the Democrats.
As for "Bubba", white men gave more votes to George Bush than Clinton in every Southern state but his home state of Arkansas. It was largely due to Ross Perot that Clinton had the edge in a grand total of four of the eleven states of the Confederacy. But I digress.
If Steele's open borders agenda, insults to his own party, and complaints about disparate racial impact are not enough, Steele has been incompetent in his running of the RNC. The most publicized example: the expenditure of $2,000 in a bondage themed strip club.
But rather than taking responsibility for these missteps, Steele blamed his problems on his race, simultaneously undercutting opposition to Obama. When George Stephanopoulos asked him whether "as an African American, you have a slimmer margin for error than another chairman would", Steele replied, "The honest answer is yes. It just is. Barack Obama has a slimmer margin." [New Troubles for RNC Chair Michael Steele?, by Jonathan Karl and Huma Khan, ABC Good Morning America, April 6, 2010]
Last year, when Roland Martin claimed "White Republicans have been afraid of black folks," Steele agreed, "You're absolutely right. I've been in the room and they've been scared of me. [Michael Steele: Some white GOP 'scared of me', Andy Barr, Politico, November 9, 2009]
Of course, nobody (except for maybe Michael Steele) has any illusions but that his race is the main reason why he became RNC chairman to begin with. Ever eager to pander, most Republicans who supported him thought that his race would help attract minorities into the party and/or deflect accusations of racism from the party, especially when opposing a black president.
Needless to say, Steele has completely failed at attracting blacks to the GOP. According Washington Post-ABC News polls issued after Steele became the RNC's first black chairman, 78% of blacks had negative opinion of the party, the same as it had been two years earlier. In 2008, 28% of all non whites had favorable opinions of the GOP. That number is down to 23% since Steele took office. [Steele falling behind on pledge to woo more minority voters to GOP, Perry Bacon Jr. and Krissah Thompson, Washington Post, April 14, 2010]
But what is truly amazing is that instead, of mitigating accusations of Republican racism, Michael Steele is stating publicly that he (and Barack Obama!) are victims of it.
Most Republicans still at least nominally oppose race preferences. So their tendency to practice Affirmative Action by promoting grossly under-qualified blacks to leadership positions is hypocritical, as well as irritating.
That said, most of these blacks at least do not bite the Republican hand that feeds them. Sometimes they are strong voices for the conservative side.
Thus there is no way that Clarence Thomas would have been nominated for the Supreme Court after only one year on the Appeals Court were it not for his race—anymore than Obama could have been nominated for President without even finishing his first Senate term. However, with a few exceptions such as Virginia vs. Black, Thomas has proved himself to be one of the strongest opponents of anti-white judicial activism in the Court. I may not like the fact that the GOP made him an affirmative action hire, but all things being equal, I'm glad he's there.
In contrast, GOP Chairman Michael Steele is acting like an underqualified student who is admitted into college because of Affirmative Action, gets the school to fund his various pro-black causes, and then accuses them of racism when he receives poor grades.
We've all heard that Diversity Is Strength. But the GOP Establishment actually believed it.
"Washington Watcher" [email him] is an anonymous source Inside The Beltway.