(From the diaries. SusanG)

Here in Tennessee, our politicians (Republican and Democrat) still have not yet figured out that anything they do or say will be subject to scrutiny in the blogosphere, and that nothing they put online is private anymore.

Further adding to the tragicomedy that is Tennessee politics, we are forced to deal with some of the most vicious racism you'll ever see without a white hood.  Whether it's implying that African-American Senate candidate is "going to steal all the white women," or implying that your African-American Presidential candidate is an anti-Semitic Muslim (whose middle name, by the way, is "Hussein"), Tennessee Republicans have truly mastered the art of the dogwhistle.

But this new one takes the cake.

Earlier today, a legislative staffer forwarded well-known West Tennessee blogger Newscoma a picture they had been sent from another staffer.  It's supposed to be an "historical keepsake photo" of the Presidents.  But no picture of President Obama--instead, just a "spook."

Because, haha, in addition to being another word for a ghost, "spook" is also a racial slur against African-Americans!  Funny!  Not.

The staffer who originally sent around the picture has now been revealed to be Sherri Goforth, an executive assistant for Republican State Senator Diane Black of Gallatin (a suburb of Nashville).  When contacted by Nashville Is Talking/WKRN Channel 2 (our ABC affiliate) blogger Christian Grantham, not only did Goforth refuse to apologize, all she could do was claim that she had simply sent it "from the wrong email address.  In other words, not sorry that she sent out a blatantly racist email, only sorry that she got caught.

Well, yes, she did get caught.  And now it's all over the TN blogosphere, and will be on the news tonight.

For those of you not familiar with her boss, Senator Diane Black, she's a Republican who was the main Senate sponsor of S.J.R. 127, a trigger amendment passed this year that, if passed in one more legislative vote and by a ballot initiative, will allow abortion to quickly be banned in Tennessee should Roe v. Wade ever be overturned.  She also rudely cancelled a meeting with GLBT activists from her own district (you know, people she was elected to represent) at the last second by saying that they "wouldn't change her mind" and therefore she didn't even need to hear from them.  So in other words, a really charming individual who's doing SO MUCH for the people of her district.

Honestly, everytime I think my capacity to be shocked over the dogwhistle tactics the Tennessee GOP uses to appeal to the worst instincts of their based has been diminished, I quickly realize how wrong I am.  What truly pisses me off is not even the racism, it's that this sort of racism is being spread on my taxpayer dime.  I'm sure the conservatives are gearing up now to say, "Oh, come on you ultra-PC lib'ruls, it's just a JOKE, lighten up!"  But even if this were "just a joke" (which it's obviously not), we the taxpayers are paying you to do the state's business, not to send around racist "jokes."

If you're in Tennessee and want Senator Black to know exactly what you think of what her office is doing on your dime, consider dropping her a line:

5 Legislative Plaza.
Nashville, TN 37243-0218
Phone (615) 741-1999

UPDATE 1:  This story is starting to go national, with The Atlantic and Wonkette both on it.  Once again, the TNGOP has made us the laughingstock of the whole country.

UPDATE 2:  Tennessee Democratic Party chairman Chip Forrester calls on Diane Black to fire Goforth.  Also, visit here to learn about the training sessions the TNDP is planning to conduct around Tennessee to Save Our State from the GOP.

Originally posted to Daily Kos on Mon Jun 15, 2009 at 02:35 PM PDT.

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