Allow me to start off by saying that as a Democratic resident of Nashville, I have never known quite what to make of my state's Republican Party. On the one hand, I resent them for basically confirming some of the worst stereotypes of Tennesseans as backwards racists. On the other hand, as a blogger, they have provided me with an endless source of amusement as I watch them implode on themselves.
Today we have a two-fer, courtesy of TNGOP spokesman Bill Hobbs and Tennessee Federation of Republican Women president Shirley Ward. Racism, anti-Semitism, and a Presidential campaign that has officially lost control of its message--we provide all that and so much more here in the Volunteer State.
First up, Bill Hobbs and the TNGOP. I think that working for the TNGOP must be a cool job, since they apparently do nothing except make disturbing YouTube videos all day long. In today's entry, the TNGOP attempts to link Barack Obama to disgraced Detroit mayor Kwame Kilpatrick:
(I especially liked the "And assault!" graphic. Nice comic book touch there)
Let's recap the ad. Obama praised Kilpatrick last year. Kilpatrick is in jail. Therefore, Obama must be unfit to be President.
Oh, and one more thing...Obama and Kilpatrick both happen to be African-American. So therefore, Obama must be just like Kilpatrick, right? Just another corrupt big-city black politician?
But wait! Just because the TNGOP EXPLICITLY ties one African-American politician to a disgraced one DOES NOT MAKE THEM RACIST!
Asked if they're really just trying to connect an allegedly corrupt big-city black politician to Obama, Tennessee GOP spokesman Bill Hobbs denied that was the case.
"We categorically reject the suggestion — the Web ad focuses on yet another example of Obama’s lousy character judgment, a growing list of examples that includes folks like the unrepentant terrorist William Ayers, the race-baiting Rev. Jeremiah Wright, the other race-baiting preacher, Father Phleger; and the corrupt real-estate wheeler-dealer, Tony Rezko," Hobbs said.
As for what the mayor Detroit has to do with the Tennessee state party, Hobbs said; "The mayor of Detroit has nothing to do with Tennessee. But Obama is running for president, which does of course have something to do with Tennessee."
Hmm....aside from the fact that Hobbs basically admitted that this ad is irrelevant to anyone in Tennessee, I guess I must have missed the part in the ad that says anything about Wright, Ayers, Rezko, et al. I've watched it a few times, and all I see are two African-American politicians, one of whom is now in jail. Maybe I'm just missing something.
But look at the Politico article again. The last bit tells you quite a bit about the current state of the McCain campaign:
The RNC and McCain rebuked the Tennessee GOP in February when they referred to Obama's middle name. Since then, McCain has taken a more hands-off posture to outside attacks, saying he won't play "referee."
Neither the RNC or campaign responded to an e-mail for comment on this latest video.
Back in February, the TNGOP issued a press release basically calling Obama supporters anti-Semites, a tactic that drew rebukes not only from John McCain but from our Republican Senators Lamar! Alexander and Bob Corker as well.
But now, it seems that the McCain campaign is either giving up on trying to control their own message or is implicitly allowing race-baiting tactics. My guess is that it's a little of both.
However, if race-baiting and dog-whistles weren't enough for you, here in Tennessee we also provide you with religious bigotry! Tennessee Federation of Republican Women president Shirley Ward, at a function in East Tennessee:
Ward said it was a little known fact, ignored by the mainstream media, that McCain's wife, Cindy, had been on numerous missions trips around the world.
"Christianity is the only religion that changes the heart," Ward said. "We're a party that cares for each and every person. I'm proud that I am a God-fearing American," she added.
Therefore, if you are not Christian, you have a heart of stone and don't care about anyone but yourself. It's nice to see that John McCain's outreach to Jewish voters is going so well.
I suppose, however, that it's not entirely fair to play the guilt-by-association game the way the Republicans always do. This doesn't necessarily have anything to do with John McCain, does it?
The Tennessee Republican Party announces the appointment of accomplished Nashville business executive Kathryn Mahoney as chairman of the Tennessee Women for McCain Coalition, and three area chairs for each of the three grand divisions of Tennessee.
The area chairs are Peggy Lambert for East Tennessee, Beth Campbell for Middle Tennessee and Paula Sedgewick for West Tennessee. They are in the process of recruiting regional chairs and finding county chairs to get women involved on all levels of this campaign. In addition, Shirley Ward, President of the Tennessee Federation of Republican Woman will be working with the Women for McCain to get the TFRW directly involved in the statewide women’s coalition effort.
But it's still not like she's acting as a McCain surrogate...
Ward said she "insisted" that every woman present at Monday's meeting not leave before filling out political forms she held in her hand and signed up for the political action group, "Women For McCain." She asked them to campaign actively for McCain.
I hope these women do out and campaign just as Ms. Ward has. In fact, I hope they go around preaching their Christianity-exclusive message just as McCain keeps trotting out Joe Lieberman and Eric Cantor in his attempts to sway Jewish voters.
So, as a final recap...We've got racism, religious bigotry, and a whole host of other ills down here in Tennessee. And John McCain is perfectly content to let it all slide.
And all that for a state that probably isn't even going to be in play in the election. Quite amazing.