From the Los Angeles Times, yesterday (registration required), we learn of the Republican's new push to "recast" their party as the party of civil rights. No, seriously...
Recasting Republicans as the Party of Civil Rights
By Peter Wallsten, Times Staff Writer
... Bush, who keeps a bust of Lincoln prominently displayed in the Oval Office, is making Civil War references a staple of his speeches promoting democracy overseas and policy changes at home. And a glossy, GOP-produced "2005 Republican Freedom Calendar," spotlighting key moments in the party's civil rights history, has been distributed to party officials nationwide.
"We started our party with the express intent of protecting the American people from the Democrats' pro-slavery policies that expressly made people inferior to the state," Rep. Christopher Cox (R-Newport Beach) wrote in a letter printed on the calendar.
I'm trying hard to think up "analysis" of this strategy, but it just... defies description. How do you even make fun of it?
As Wallsten notes...
[T]he Democrats gained a virtual lock on the black vote in the mid-1960s, as President Lyndon B. Johnson pushed several civil rights bills through Congress while the GOP pursued a "Southern strategy" aimed at courting white voters.
In the years that followed, Republicans led the fights against affirmative action and the creation of a national holiday honoring slain civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr.
Referring to the GOP's new efforts to promote its civil rights record, Yale University history professor David Blight said, "It's appalling to me as a historian and as an American citizen. It necessitates ignoring and avoiding at least 80 years of the history of the Republican Party, that the Republican Party became the bastion of white solidarity, white comfort."
Republicans, however, insist their true history has been obscured -- an argument encapsulated by a slogan on their new calendar.
"Celebrating a century and a half of civil rights achievement by the Party of Lincoln," proclaims its cover, which features a large image of the 16th president.
Each date contains a blurb linking the GOP to advances in civil rights. On March 18, for instance, the calendar notes that in 1877, Republican President Rutherford B. Hayes appointed the abolitionist Douglass to be a U.S. marshal.
The article notes that Republican strategists "are aiming to win as much as 30% of the nation's black vote" in 2008 (last year black voters went nearly 90% for Kerry.)
Yeah, there's still that whole ongoing Jim Crow thing. Yeah, we've seen even as recently as three months ago the Republican strategies of stationing law enforcement officers outside polling places in order to intimidate minority voters, and of stationing Republican "challengers" inside heavily-minority polling places to "verify" the identification of black voters. And yeah, Jeb Bush himself has been instrumental in pushing hard, both in 2000 and 2004, for a known-bogus "felon's list" with the primary purpose of simply removing Democratic-leaning black voters from the voting rolls.
But the Republicans are now the party of civil rights. You can tell because they're distributing a calendar.
Republican strategists concede that recasting the GOP as the party of civil rights is a challenge. The party, for example, boasts no black members of Congress, compared with 43 Democrats.
You know, at some point, this might get funny, but so far it ain't. Here we have Karl Rove and associates riding the decaying corpse of Orwell, at an altitude high enough to require oxygen masks, over the biggest shark tank you or I have ever seen.
The Republican Party has devolved into advertising standards that would make a beer company blush. Stay tuned for the 2008 Republican National Convention, at which the entire slogan and message will be Republicans! Fuck Yeah!