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Republicans have a history of dissin' Democratic presidents

This is the sad fact. Republicans have only been interested in pushing their corporate agenda and nothing else. They aren’t interested in working with anyone who isn’t pushing the corporate message. Period. There is no in-between for the Republicans. Democratic presidents are in the way and they are not to be tolerated.

Glenn has the details:

Several people objected in comments, emails and other places to my argument yesterday that what Rep. Joe Wilson did — though dumb and juvenile — was hardly some grave threat to the Republic or even a substantial deviation from standard right-wing political behavior.  Some argued that Obama’s race has caused the Right’s hostility towards him to be both unique and unprecedentedly intense.  That some people react with particular animus towards the first black President is obvious.  But there is nothing new about the character of the American Right or their concerted efforts to destroy the legitimacy of Obama’s presidency.

To see that, just look at what that movement’s leading figures said and did during the Clinton years.  In 1994, Jesse Helms, then-Chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, claimed that “just about every military man” believes Clinton is unqualified to be Commander-in-Chief and then warned/threatened him not to venture onto military bases in the South:  “Mr. Clinton better watch out if he comes down here. He better have a bodyguard.”  The Wall St. Journal called for a Special Prosecutor to investigate the possible “murder” of Vince Foster.  Clinton was relentlessly accused by leading right-wing voices of being a murderer, a serial rapist, and a drug trafficker.  Tens of millions of dollars and barrels of media ink were expended investigating “Whitewater,” a “scandal” which, to this day, virtually nobody can even define.  When Clinton tried to kill Osama bin Laden, they accused him of “wagging the dog” — trying to distract the country from the truly important matters at hand (his sex scandal).  And, of course, the GOP ultimately impeached him over that sex scandal — in the process issuing a lengthy legal brief with footnotes detailing his sex acts (cigars and sex talk), publicly speculating about (and demanding examinations of) the unique “distinguishing” spots on his penis, and using leading right-wing organs to disseminate innuendo that he had an abandoned, out-of-wedlock child.  More intense and constant attacks on a President’s “legitimacy” are difficult to imagine.

This is why I have very mixed feelings about the protests of conservatives such as David Frum or Andrew Sullivan that the conservative movement has been supposedly “hijacked” by extremists and crazies.  On the one hand, this is true.  But when was it different?  Rush Limbaugh didn’t just magically appear in the last twelve months.  He — along with people like James Dobson, Pat Robertson, Bill Kristol and Jesse Helms — have been leaders of that party for decades.  Republicans spent the 1990s wallowing in Ken Starr’s sex report, “Angry White Male” militias, black U.N. helicopters, Vince Foster’s murder, Clinton’s Mena drug runway, Monica’s semen-stained dress, Hillary’s lesbianism, “wag the dog” theories, and all sorts of efforts to personally humiliate Clinton and destroy the legitimacy of his presidency using the most paranoid, reality-detached, and scurrilous attacks.  And the crazed conspiracy-mongers in that movement became even more prominent during the Bush years.  Frum himself — now parading around as the Serious Adult conservative — wrote, along with uber-extremist Richard Perle, one of the most deranged and reality-detached books of the last two decades, and before that, celebrated George W. Bush, his former boss, as “The Right Man.” (more… )

By |2009-09-12T19:24:16-04:00September 12th, 2009|Obama administration, Party Politics|Comments Off on Republicans have a history of dissin' Democratic presidents

Jesse Helms

Evil-doer Jesse Helms died a few days ago at age 86. Senator Helms worked as hard and as long as he could to make life even more difficult for black folks, gay folks, the poor, and anybody else he did not like. Despite this, I find no satisfaction in his passing.

For one thing, Mr. Helms got the best of his foes. He served five terms in the United States Senate and left this position on his own terms. He was never defeated for election. He lived a long life and yet he never paid any price for his misdeeds.

When somebody like former South Carolina Senator Strom Thurmond lives to be 100, you realize that “what goes around comes around” is only true if good people work to make it happen. Otherwise, evil goes unpunished.

I also think there are deeper reasons to simply move on from the death of somebody like Helms. If you react to the death of a Helms in the same hateful way he conducted his life, you’ve allowed wrongdoers to define your actions. Aren’t things lousy enough already?

While it’s a lot to ask one to completely discipline personal thoughts, it is our public actions and reactions that will be observed and judged by others. Being glad someone is dead is simply the wrong course. It does nothing to harm the person who has passed. It only alters our own character.

I rarely criticize Republicans and people on the far-right in my blogging. I feel doing so would serve little purpose for what I want to accomplish. When I write as “Texas Liberal” you can guess what I think of Helms.

There are always going to be wrongdoers. I have only so much time for blog posts. I don’t want bad folks to take up all my time. The issue is the words and deeds of people open to taking the right course in life. It is these people I want to concern myself with.

By |2008-07-08T12:27:09-04:00July 8th, 2008|Other Political Thoughts|2 Comments

Jessie Helms Dies

I will have a lot more to say about Senator Jessie Helms later on this afternoon. Right now, I can say that Helms should be admired by all. Whether you believe in his politics or not, he did stand by his convictions. He also showed everyone what a determined senator can do.

Think Progress points out that the former mayor of Charlotte, North Carolina, Harvey Gantt, who ran against Helms in 1990, was defeated in part by a racially based advertisement which reinforced North Carolinians worst racial fears.

From New York Times:

Jesse Helms, the former North Carolina senator whose courtly manner and mossy drawl barely masked a hard-edged conservatism that opposed civil rights, gay rights, foreign aid and modern art, died early Friday. He was 86.

Mr. Helms’s former chief of staff, Jimmy Broughton, told The Associated Press that the former senator died of natural causes in Raleigh.

In a 52-year political career that ended with his retirement from the Senate in 2002, Mr. Helms became a beacon for the right wing of American politics, a lightning rod for the left, and, often, a mighty pain for Presidents whatever their political leaning. (more… )

Update: From TCR

The WaPo’s David Broder wrote a column in August 2001, shortly after Helms announced he would not seek re-election. Broder, who would hardly qualify as a reflexive liberal ideologue, did a fine job explaining exactly what made Helms politically significant, and precisely why he’ll be remembered.

What really sets Jesse Helms apart is that he is the last prominent unabashed white racist politician in this country — a title that one hopes will now be permanently retired. A few editorials and columns came close to saying that. But the squeamishness of much of the press in characterizing Helms for what he is suggests an unwillingness to confront the reality of race in our national life. […]

What is unique about Helms — and from my viewpoint, unforgivable — is his willingness to pick at the scab of the great wound of American history: the legacy of slavery and segregation. He inflamed racial resentment against African Americans.

Many of the accounts of Helms’s retirement linked him with another prospective retiree, Sen. Strom Thurmond of South Carolina. Both these Senate veterans switched from the Democratic to the Republican Party when the Democrats began pressing for civil rights legislation in the 1960s. But there is a great difference between them. Thurmond, who holds the record for the longest anti-civil rights filibuster, accepted change. For three decades he has treated African Americans and black institutions as respectfully as he treats all his other constituents.

To the best of my knowledge, Helms has never done what the late George Wallace did well before his death — recant and apologize for his use of racial issues. And that use was blatant.

In 1984, when Helms faced his toughest opponent in Democratic Gov. Jim Hunt, the late Bill Peterson, one of the most evenhanded reporters I have ever known, summed up what “some said was the meanest Senate campaign in history.”

“Racial epithets and standing in school doors are no longer fashionable,” Peterson wrote, “but 1984 proved that the ugly politics of race are alive and well. Helms is their master.”

A year before the election, when public polls showed Helms trailing by 20 points, he launched a Senate filibuster against the bill making the birthday of Martin Luther King Jr. a national holiday. Thurmond and the Senate majority were on the other side, but the next poll showed Helms had halved his deficit.

All year, Peterson reported, “Helms campaign literature sounded a drumbeat of warnings about black voter-registration drives…. On election eve, he accused Hunt of being supported by ‘homosexuals, the labor union bosses and the crooks’ and said he feared a large ‘bloc vote.’ What did he mean? ‘The black vote,’ Helms said.” He won, 52 percent to 48 percent.

In 1990, locked in a tight race with an African American Democrat, former Charlotte mayor Harvey Gantt, Helms aired a final-week TV ad that showed a pair of white hands crumpling a rejection letter, while an announcer said, “You needed that job and you were the best qualified. But they had to give it to a minority because of a racial quota.” Once again, he pulled through.

That is not a history to be sanitized.

Helms wasn’t a nice guy or even a good guy. He was a cornerstone of the Republican party for decades. I think that this says something about the Republican party, North Carolina (the state in which I live) and the United States. Unfortunately, what it says isn’t good.

At the risk of sounding heartless, the same is true on the day of Helms’ death.

By |2008-07-04T14:16:57-04:00July 4th, 2008|Domestic Issues, Senate|2 Comments
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