I believe that this is known as “triangulation”:
The national anthem should be sung in English–not Spanish–President Bush declared Friday, amid growing restlessness over whether to grant legal status to immigrants who are in the United States illegally.
“One of the important things here is that we not lose our national soul,” the president exclaimed…
“I think people who want to be citizens of this country ought to learn English,” Bush said.
Disturbing, obviously. What’s even more disturbing is that this xenophobic trend has a counter-trend on the left, a vicious assault on multiculturalism by people like Michael Tomasky and Todd Gitlin who view minorities and the dispossessed as a whole as little more than “special interests”. Max Sawicky gets this exactly right. The difference between Democratic “special interests” and Republican “special interests” is that Republican “special interests” are multinationals, defense contractors, and oilmen, while Democratic “special interests” are the environment, women, blacks, immigrants, and the poor. In short, the Republicans represent those who already have a voice, and the Democrats represent those who don’t. If Tomasky and Gitlin are willing to deny those segments of society their legitimate representation in government, that says something very, very sad about the left.
I respectfully disagree with John McCain. I disagree even more with Mitt Romney, but still would be comfortable with a Romney presidency. George Allen is different. Allen disturbs me for the same reasons the Duke defendants disturb me. He emanates a frat-boy air – the sports similes, the origins as an ’80s college republican – that just makes him seem like the kind of guy I was born to hate. So when I heard he was considering running for president in 2008, I really hoped something would bring him down, quick. My guess was that it would be a date rape. It turns out it’s racism:
But, while Allen may have genuflected in the direction of Gingrich, he also showed a touch of Strom Thurmond. Campaigning for governor in 1993, he admitted to prominently displaying a Confederate flag in his living room. He said it was part of a flag collection–and had been removed at the start of his gubernatorial bid. When it was learned that he kept a noose hanging on a ficus tree in his law office, he said it was part of a Western memorabilia collection. These explanations may be sincere. But, as a chief executive, he also compiled a controversial record on race. In 1994, he said he would accept an honorary membership at a Richmond social club with a well-known history of discrimination–an invitation that the three previous governors had refused. After an outcry, Allen rejected the offer. He replaced the only black member of the University of Virginia (UVA) Board of Visitors with a white one. He issued a proclamation drafted by the Sons of Confederate Veterans declaring April Confederate History and Heritage Month. The text celebrated Dixie’s “four-year struggle for independence and sovereign rights.” There was no mention of slavery. After some of the early flaps, a headline in The Washington Post read, “governor seen leading va. back in time.”
Allen has described those early years as a learning experience. Indeed, he sanded off the rough edges and began molding himself to the Bush era, when conservatives began abandoning the crudeness of their old Southern strategy. During the second half of his gubernatorial term, Allen began positioning himself as the next cool thing in Republican politics, a governor more interested in results than partisanship. Indeed, at the Stafford Airport stump speech, there are no confederate flags or coded racial appeals. Instead, Allen talks about energy independence and the competitive challenge from rising economies like China’s and India’s. If it weren’t for some of the rhetoric about “tax commissars,” one might mistake Allen’s stump speech for a Tom Friedman column.
Even if the moderate turn leads voters to remember the governor of fiscal responsibility rather than the Confederate history booster, there’s still a problem. Before there was a Governor Allen, there was a state legislator Allen. Allen became active in Virginia politics in the mid-’70s, when state Republicans were first learning how to assemble a new political coalition by wooing white Democrats with appeals to states’ rights and respect for Dixie heritage.
Allen was a quick study. In his first race in 1979–according to Larry Sabato, a UVA professor and college classmate of Allen’s–he ran a radio ad decrying a congressional redistricting plan whose main purpose was to elect Virginia’s first post-Reconstruction black congressman. Allen lost that race but was back in 1982 and won the seat by 25 votes. He spent the next nine years in Richmond, where his pet issues, judging by the bills he personally sponsored, were crime and welfare. But he also found himself repeatedly voting in the minority on a series of racial issues that he seems embarrassed by today. In 1984, he was one of 27 House members to vote against a state holiday commemorating Martin Luther King Jr. The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported, “Allen said the state shouldn’t honor a non-Virginian with his own holiday.” He was also bothered by the fact that the proposed holiday would fall on the day set aside in Virginia to honor Robert E. Lee and Stonewall Jackson. That same year, he did feel the urge to honor one of Virginia’s own. He co-sponsored a resolution expressing “regret and sorrow upon the loss” of William Munford Tuck, a politician who opposed every piece of civil rights legislation while in Congress during the 1950s and 1960s and promised “massive resistance” to the Supreme Court’s 1954 decision banning segregation.
None of this means Allen is a racist, of course. He is certainly not the same guy today that he was in the ’80s. But his interest in Southern heritage and his fetish for country culture goes back even further. And what’s truly improbable is how someone with his upbringing ever acquired such backwoods tastes.
Read the whole thing. Despite that last qualifying paragraph, the author (Ryan Lizza) proves beyond all reasonable doubt that George Allen is not just a proud Southerner – indeed, he isn’t even a real southerner. No, Allen is a dyed-in-the-wool racist, well-versed in the Southern strategy and a dedicated opponent of civil rights. Let’s hope this derails his campaign before he has the chance to take us back to the 1950s.
I’m not a big fan of Bob Reich; I’m more of a Bob Rubin kind of guy, and think Reich is a little too pessimistic about economic globalization. But this shows some scruples:
WASHINGTON, April 27 — A public relations firm has apologized to General Motors after acknowledging that it may have offered money to former Labor Secretary Robert B. Reich in exchange for public comments supporting the automaker’s employee buyout program. The offer would violate General Motors’s policy against payments to opinion makers.
Mr. Reich, who was labor secretary under President Bill Clinton and is now a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, had complained publicly about the incident, which he said occurred three weeks ago. He described the offer of payment as a new instance of how “corporate America is paying pundits to shill for them.”
Well, at least he’s above Maggie Gallagher and Armstrong Williams, if only in principles (c’mon, you knew I was going to do a short joke).
It seems that Pat Fitzgerald’s decision on Rove will come sooner than I expected:
Patrick J. Fitzgerald, the special prosecutor in the C.I.A. leak case, is expected to decide in the next two to three weeks whether to bring perjury charges against Karl Rove, the powerful adviser to President Bush, lawyers involved in the case said Thursday.
The article says nothing about other charges, but I’d understand if perjury was the most we could get him for. Let’s just say that I’ll be checking nytimes.com a lot more often from now until May 17th.
If you thought the collective xenophobic hissy-fit nativists threw about Dubai Ports World’s expected acquisitions of American ports was bad, just you wait:
President Bush is expected on Friday to announce his approval of a deal under which a Dubai-owned company would take control of nine plants in the United States that manufacture parts for American military vehicles and aircraft, say two administration officials familiar with the terms of the deal.
The officials, who were granted anonymity so they could speak freely about something the president had not yet announced, said that the final details had not yet been set and that Mr. Bush might put conditions on the transaction to keep military technology in the United States.
In the last Dubai debate, the main argument used by defenders of the deal was that DPW would have exactly nothing to do with port security. That’s true; but we can’t avoid the security issue here. It’d be best to just come right out and say it: there is something very unsavory about opposing the business plans of a Middle Eastern company because it’s Middle Eastern. It’s anti-globalist and borderline racist. Though I doubt Bush has the chutzpah to pull the race card, if he’s honest he will.
I just saw Gary Sick, a retired Navy captain who was an NSC advisor to both Carter and Reagan, speak at Dartmouth. He’s remarkably sober and rational, not rushing to conclusions, caring more about getting the facts right, and getting all the facts right, than about crafting an argument. He’s cautiously optimistic about the prospects of the Iranian reform movement, and sees an overthrow of the mullahs as somewhat likely, especially considering the Iranian propensity toward revolution, but also acknowledges that, for all of Ahmadinejad’s fighting with Khameini and the fundamentalist old guard, fundamentalism is getting further entrenched in government. As for Iran’s nuclear program, he gives them 5-10 years, but says that there’s considerable disagreement within Iran, and that American certainty about the end result of the program is not helping, but instead convincing Iran of the benefits of nuclear weapons. And as for what we should do, he has one word: talk.
In other Iran-related news, I starting reading (again) Ken Pollack’s The Persian Puzzle in order to make sense of the current mess. It’s good, and, like Sick’s talk, balanced and reasonable. However, Pollack is a bit harder on the Iranians, and more sympathetic to the militaristic among us. But ultimately, they have the very same conclusion: talk.
It’s impossible to prove these things after the fact, but I swear that the idea of hiring mercenaries to fight genocide currently being kicked around by Rebecca Weiner (and Patrick Porter, and Alex Tabarrok, and Matt Yglesias…) was tossed around by yours truly a few months ago. Not in this blog; in my head. Damn my momentary lapses in the motivation to blog. But anyway, the idea, or some variation thereof, goes back even further, to Cryptonomicon by Neal Stephenson, in which some characters propose arming genocide victims.
As for the idea’s actual merits, I think they’re great. For one thing, the force would be more reliable than the U.N., N.A.T.O., or regional organizations like A.S.E.A.N. or the A.U., because of its monomanical focus on genocide, and lack of a need for consensus decisions. Also, the use of mercenaries prevents the cause from getting too emotional, and creating a counter-genocide, as has happened to some degree along the Rwanda/Congo border.
Not that the plan would be easy to implement. Mercenaries aren’t cheap, and we’d need a wealthy benefactor to fund the organization, and many (Bill Gates?) may not view helping mercenaries as philanthropy. Also, the international controversy would be tremendous, which could drive off donors and pressure the mercenaries to refuse supporting the group. But on the other hand, the lucky bastard who gets to head the group could do cool things like wield a revolver on the G.A. floor. Wait, that was Arafat. Still cool though.