The dark arts of race-baiting

We’ve heard this sad song before.


Race-baiting is an ugly art. But a struggling candidate is often tempted to practice the dark arts. We’re doomed to see a lot of those dark arts between here and November.

Barack Obama and his friends in the mainstream media, so called, can’t believe that anyone could vote against someone as wonderful as he is (and as they are). Only a bigot would vote against such a wonderful president. We’re getting a scary preview of the wrath to come in the reaction to this week’s presidential primary results in Arkansas and Kentucky. No one has ever suggested that “as Arkansas goes, so goes the nation,” but you might think the 42 percent of the Arkansas primary vote that Mr. Obama didn’t get has rocked the foundations of the republic. That 42 percent in Arkansas is similar — indeed, almost identical — to the vote against Mr. Obama in Kentucky and earlier in West Virginia. Donna Brazile, a Democratic strategist, says it’s the result of “race, resentment and fear.” The Klan is coming! The Klan is coming! With tar, feathers and rope.

The anybody-but-Obama voters had a real-live alternative in Arkansas in the person of a Tennessee lawyer named John Wolfe. He actually carried nearly half of the state’s 75 counties. Unhappy Kentuckians settled for an apparition named “Uncommitted.” Earlier in West Virginia the anybody-but-Obama candidate was a convicted felon in a federal pokey in Texas. So it must be about race when voters prefer a lawyer to a man of color. It’s an article of Democratic faith that such bigots have to be Republicans, despite the inconvenient fact that so far the only voters who have voted against the president are Democrats.

Sixteen states have offered Democratic voters an alternative to Mr. Obama, either an actual candidate, “Uncommitted,” or an opportunity to write in someone’s name. So far 15 percent of those Democratic voters have done so. In five states where there has been an actual opponent, 27 percent voted against the president. In New Hampshire, 1 Democrat in 10 wrote in an alternative. Twenty percent of North Carolina Democrats voted for “Uncommitted.” That’s a lot of “bigots.”

Tuesday’s vote against Mr. Obama is actually a protest against the party’s further slide to the left. Not so long ago Arkansas was the most loyal Democratic state, having never voted Republican. Then came the likes of George McGovern, Michael Dukakis and John Kerry, white men all. Loyal Democrats swallowed hard, voted Republican, and waited for Grandpa to climb out of his grave, dusting off his Confederate uniform and looking for a hickory switch. But silence reigned in the graveyards, and old-line Democrats continued to swallow hard and vote Republican.

Some Democrats understand this. “It’s just that [some] voters are down on national Democrats generally,” Martin Frost, a former Texas congressman, tells The Washington Post, “and I don’t believe it’s due to race.”

The Chattanooga lawyer who won the 42 percent in Arkansas with no mention of race goes Tuesday to Texas and another primary. He’s likely to get enough votes to inflict further heartburn at the White House. Unless you’re an FDR or a Ronald Reagan this is what unpopular incumbent president, black or white, can expect. Lyndon B. Johnson was driven out of his bid for re-election in 1968 when Gene McCarthy won 42 percent of the vote in the New Hampshire primary.

No one doubts that a candidate’s race influences voters, probably more so in the South than elsewhere. But not always. Mr. Obama got his strongest Arkansas endorsement in Little Rock, where the 101st Airborne Division was dispatched by a Republican president to enforce desegregation a half-century ago. In several Little Rock precincts where poor whites and blacks can’t afford to live, Mr. Obama won margins of 90 percent or more. One newspaper columnist called these precincts “a warm liberal echo chamber against the increasingly cold world in much of the rest of Arkansas.” John Wolfe polled his majorities ranging to 75 percent in largely rural counties.

The most pronounced “race-based” voting, in fact, was in predominantly black precincts. One such precinct voted 100 percent for Mr. Obama; percentages in the high 90s were commonplace in black neighborhoods across the state.

Maybe these voters just can’t vote for someone of another race. Or maybe they’re just taking pride in helping a black man do well. Maybe the white vote against Mr. Obama isn’t about race, but reflects rage against an incompetent president who promised to change the old ways and now reveals himself to be just another pol with a Harvard degree and a hustler’s scheme to divide and conquer with the race card. We’ve heard this sad song before.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.


14 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. jk
    May 29, 2012 @ 13:27:53

    Wesley Pruden (former editor of the Moonie Times) is far, far from the pinnacle of ethical journalism.

    As for his argument, let’s just say there are still an aweful lot of confederate flags still flying in our southern state (yes, I’ve witnessed them myself). Of course not all Obama opponents are racist, but a lot of them are.


    • martha
      May 29, 2012 @ 18:16:03

      Ha, ha, ha:

      The Reverend Sun Myung Moon, leader of the Unification Church and King of Peace, owns the Washington Times, along with the UPI wire service, the New Yorker Hotel, a gun manufacturer, a large segment of the American sushi industry, and a couple members of congress.

      Moon has always treasured the attention of American politicians, and he spent a lot of the ’80s sucking up to Republicans. The Times was kinda like his New York Post, only if Rupert Murdoch literally thought he was Jesus.

      But now, Moon is very old. And so he is handing over various bits of his church and his businesses to his many children. Apparently, a war between Moon’s Harvard-educated sons Hyung-jin Moon (whom Moon appointed to run the church) and Hyun-jin “Preston” Moon (who controls the Times) led to Preston firing a bunch of Times executives (including the publisher) last Sunday, because they refused to back him in his fight with his brother.

      The paper loses millions of dollars a year, but Moon never minded, as long as it fought communism and homosexuality in American society. But now Moon seems to think that maybe it is not serving its purpose:
      “The Washington Times has to take responsibility for people going to hell in America,” he declared, referring to, among other sins, “homosexuality and lesbianism.” And yet, at the same event at the church’s East Garden estate in Westchester County, NY, Rev. Moon appeared to come back to his belief that the newspaper was a worthwhile endeavor.

      The sermon, titled “Western People Are Different From Eastern People,” is not entirely coherent. At one point Rev. Moon boasted that he is the “original ancestor” of the Times, asking “Did the CIA help with making the Washington Times? Did George Bush help with making the Washington Times?”

      Times employees have no idea what is going on. There were armed guards at the offices the day the firings happened. The editor is expected to be fired any minute now. And soon there might not be a money-losing ultra-conservative crazy-person second daily newspaper in America’s Capital, which would be a real shame.


  2. Darklady
    May 29, 2012 @ 15:12:23

    I don’t suppose Pruden is aware that the president is a lawyer?


  3. majiir
    May 29, 2012 @ 15:13:09

    I’m a Black American, and I’m always insulted by the attitude and reasoning of people like Durden. I was born, raised, and still live in GA. Durden and others like him never questioned the motives of Black voters when we voted for white politicians in the past. I’ve voted for republicans in the past, but the GOP was a very different party then than it is today. Tying Black Americans’ vote for President Obama to race is an insult. I voted for Obama for the same reason I vote for white politicians–imo, he was the better candidate and I identified with his vision for the country. This is something that people like Durden need to realize if they want more Black Americans to vote for GOP politicians. They must offer a vision of the nation that includes all of its citizens, stop war mongering, and stop neglecting the poor and middle classes to reward the rich and corporations. Durden’s narrow view of the reason he thinks most Black Americans voted for Obama shows that he has a lot to learn.


    • dragonpuff
      May 29, 2012 @ 20:40:33

      Thank you.

      The African American vote has always been one of the strongest bases for the
      democrats since I was born. I personally have only voted for democratic presidential candidates and before President Obama–THEY WERE ALL WHITE.
      Yet in 2008 when I voted for President Obama—suddenly I only voted
      for him because he was African American. It is insulting. And I have to
      say all this birther crap and other name calling of our President comes down to
      ONE thing—and I don’t care who disputes it.

      Racism. The heinous man in this article called the President a hustler. Get it? And calling out racism and derangement of our current President isn’t playing racial politics. How many photos of watermelons growing on the WH
      lawn, Michelle Obama pictured as an ape, the president with bones in his nose and even federal judges forwarding racist screeds about President Obama
      does anyone need to get this? And please tell me why the day of the president’s inauguration would the GOP get together and pledge not to work with him–ever?
      Has that ever happened?

      The man has been called everything but a child of god these last three and a half
      years. His wife disrespected, his accomplishments mitigated and his actual American citizenship disputed even though his mother was born in the heartland and he was raised by her parents.

      Syrin–I’m a bit disappointed with you that you posted this tripe. I thought you were a bit more broadminded. Basically you have repeated idiocy and just dismissed
      the African American base of the democratic party as if we are monolithic idiots.

      You are an evangelical—aren’t you? Evangelicals are the base of the GOP. Would you repost an article about how the evangelical vote is ONLY tied to white conservative republicans and how they would never vote for anyone of another racial identity–cause let’s face it, haven’t ALL the republican presidents been white? Also, the last republican president– that evangelicals loved— destroyed the economy, got us into two wars, shrugged when warned terrorists would strike, let an American city drown, tortured prisoners and then hid while his party blamed his eight years of incompetence on the next president; while refusing to meet that president part way to fix a country their party plundered? And with the mother of all hubris, then complained he didn’t change things like he said he would?

      Just saying . . . .


      • Sammy
        May 29, 2012 @ 21:15:21

        Thank you, dragonpuff. I too, find it amazing that after 50 years of voting for mostly candidates, because in my early days, black people could not run for many offices, I am suddenly voting on the basis of race because I voted for a black man.

        We know, in spite of all of the denials and excuses, that many white people, especially in the South, would never vote for a black man, even if he were Jesus Christ. Mitt is telling everyone that he is going to destroy Medicare, Medicai, Social Security, the education system, unions and just about everything else that might benefit working and middle class people but yet so many are lining up to vote for him, especially seniors receiving Medicare and SS.

        Why else would you vote for some who is planning to destroy you unless the other guy is BLACK.

    • Sammy
      May 29, 2012 @ 21:16:40

      Thank you too, majiir.


  4. Sammy
    May 29, 2012 @ 21:02:31

    Good God, Syrin. What is happening to this site? And you? You can be republican and still not allow such clap trap as Sowell and this guy on your site.


    • Syrin
      May 29, 2012 @ 22:31:42

      Whats wrong with me? I found valid points in this piece. It’s topic worth exploring. OK a Clap trap? Disappointed? I think some of you need to understand that not everyone believes the way you do. But, yes, you can still read what you don’t agree with, and respectful others who express a differing opinion, I try to. But, its not the same with you. Oh, I see you’re ok with me only if I don’t dare post from really Conservative authors or topics. I appreciate each of you and your likeminded opinions. Your comments are very welcome here. I have a interest in putting forth opinion on worthy topics from lots of different authors. I see no willingness to debate anything here. Everyobe seems to know it all. Why the disrespect to the author? Why the disappointment in the very idea that I’d post such an opinion? I or this article have not dismissed the African American base of the democratic party! Perhaps some of the Dems African base has dismissed the fact that the key to the Republican party’s past success was its position on slavery. Back in 1860 it was the Republican party who opposed the expansion of slavery and called upon Congress to take measures, whenever necessary, to prevent its extension when the other half who called themselves Democrats fought it every step of the way..

      Curious, isn’t it?


      • Lidia17
        Jun 01, 2012 @ 03:04:17

        Syrin, today’s Republican Party is not the Republican Party of 1860, or even that of 1960!! They would consider Eisenhower and Nixon dirty commies.

        Wasn’t MLK a Republican? Can you IMAGINE what Fox News would do to Dr. King, were he alive today?

        President Lincoln said: “Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration.”

        President Lincoln said: “Whenever there is a conflict between human rights and property rights, human rights must prevail”

        President Lincoln said: “The land, the earth that God gave to man for his home, his sustenance, and support, should never be the possession of any man, corporation, society, or unfriendly Government, any more than the air or the water, if as much.”

        The Washington Times is a paper run by religious lunatics (The Moonies). Here’s some of Moon’s paid political lackies CORONATING him and his wife INSIDE the United States Senate!! King and Queen of the Universe, or some god-dam thing…

        See a very interesting explication of the North’s opposition to the expansion of slavery here:

        I don’t have enough energy to address the so-called “race-baiting” in the posted article, but I will contest this tired RW talking point that President Obama or Democrats in general are somehow “sliding to the left”, or are “far-left”.

        Taking the public health-care option off the table before beginning to negotiate is not a “far left” position. Expanding the “War on Terror” is not a far-left position. Taking a hands-off approach to the thieving and fraud on Wall Street, especially the horror that is MERS having destroyed the chain of title for hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of American homes—is not a “far left” position. The far left sees Obama for who he is: just another corporate politician.

        I keep looking around for something “left-ish” that Obama has done, and I can’t find it. The ACA was based on models proposed by the Heritage Foundation, and on Romneycare, and is a giveaway to big corporate health insurers just like Bush’s Plan D was a giveaway to Big Pharma. O. is just going down the Republican path of enforcing the wealth pump shunting public monies into private pockets.

        More to the point of this article, though, it seems like Rs are mad that Obama is a likeable and generally sane fellow. So they have to think of sinister and nefarious reasons (“race-baiting”!! “voter fraud”!!) why anyone would vote for O. over, say, old McNasty or the Mormon who likes firing people and thinks physically assaulting them is funny.

        The fact of the matter is, the Right has been riding the crazy train ever rightward for decades now (trees cause pollution; HFCS ketchup is a vegetable), and they’re so flippin’ crazy they think it’s the rest of the world whut’s movin’!!!

  5. SarahSick
    May 30, 2012 @ 02:55:20

    Syrin, you found an article to satisfy your beliefs and in doing so, revealed them.

    If you had simply wanted to show that there are others out there who have a different viewpoint, you should have accompanied this with some sort of personal editorial.

    The Washington Times, despite its confusing and venerable-sounding name, is a journalistic rag whose clearest counterpart is the New York Post.

    You really could have done better all the way around.


  6. martha
    May 30, 2012 @ 06:06:07

    Oh brother………This is not a conservative point of view it is a ~~racist~~ point of view.

    Why the disrespect to the author?

    The author IS a well known racist, and the Times has been known as a rag for decades.

    It seems everyone here has not simply disrespected racism, but flat out rejected racist ideas….. why would you expect anything different?

    The “debate” is long over on that.

    Pruden is well known to the Southern Poverty Law Centre.

    Pruden used to post a full page article every week glorifying the Civil War!

    And it’s no wonder, in as much as Arkansas history is steeped in racism, so is Pruden.

    His father, the Rev. Wesley Pruden Sr., was a leading spokesperson for Little Rock’s racist Capital Citizens Council, which fought bitterly against school desegregation in the 1950s and 1960s.

    Pruden served as chaplain and then president of the CCC. White “citizens’ councils” had become a common tool to battle integration throughout the South by the mid-1950s. Moreover, along with other CCC leaders, Pruden pressured Governor Orval Faubus to stay the course of segregation. He gave support to those who made up the mob in front of Central High School—verbally encouraging them, according to Reed, “to fight niggers, communists, and cops!” He also placed ads supporting segregation in local newspapers and led the fundraising activities to pay the bail bond of those whites arrested for demonstrating at Central.

    The old trope:

    “Republican party’s past success was its position on slavery. Back in 1860 it was the Republican party who opposed the expansion of slavery and called upon Congress to take measures, whenever necessary, to prevent its extension when the other half who called themselves Democrats fought it every step of the way..”

    is even more disappointing.

    THAT Republican Party is long dead.

    The republican party hasn’t represented ANY minorities at all since the civil rights movement in the 1960’s.

    Democracy is a process and not a static condition. It is not being but becoming. It can be easily lost and never fully won. Its essence is eternal struggle.
    -Judge William Hastie


  7. Kate (@AKRNHSNC)
    May 30, 2012 @ 11:25:47

    Syrin, if this is article is representative of your way of thinking, you’ve sure had a lot of us fooled. I know you’re conservative and respect your views but anything from the Washington Times is not just conservative, IMO. We’re entering the far RWNJ territory.

    As SarahSick said above, if you wanted to open up a discussion, why not include your own personal viewpoint. While I don’t have my own blog, if I did, I’d be of the belief that anything I posted without any personal input is a form of affirmation in the same.


    • jk
      May 31, 2012 @ 14:27:10

      And Pruden is a particularly vile representative. He has made it clear he is anti-gay and anti-non traditional women. He’s also said that the President isn’t American in his heart and that the President’s mother has a thing for third world men (yes he actually wrote that). That’s in addition to his own race-baiting.

      I know it might feel like we’re attacking you, Syrin, but it’s hard to keep my mouth shut when it comes to something like this. I’m not afraid of views different from mine, but I am offended by Pruden and his latest screed.


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