Tuesday, October 02, 2007


Pat Buchanan Is Right

This topic came up a couple weeks ago during an NPR discussion, but it bears repeating.

He may not have said it delicately enough, but Pat Buchanan was essentially right in pointing out saying that it's not necessarily in a Republican candidate's best interest to attend last week's "black" debate.
Talking Points Memo called Buchanan's argument "offensive".

Few people are surprised that Republicans don't attend an organized labor candidate forum -- or that there won't be a "Values Debate" where conservatives entertain the Democratic presidential candidates.

Why weren't the Democrats invited to speak to the NRA? For that matter, why did the Democrats choose to skip the Fox News debate?

The answer is that the different parties, during the primary season, are busy wooing the different parts of their "base." It is unfortunate, but African Americans have become a locked-up constituency of the Democratic base: No Republican president has gotten more than 11 percent of the black vote since Richard Nixon received 30 percent in 1960. While one can certainly blame the GOP for various mis-steps (beginning with Barry Goldwater's declaration that he was "going where the ducks" were -- Southern white voters -- and writing off the black vote in '64), the fact is that black leadership has chosen to declare demonstrate its power solely within the context of the Democratic Party.

Even when a Republican has tried to reach out to the black community -- as George W. Bush did in 2000 -- that overture is rebuffed. Bush went to the NAACP convention, trying to salve hurt feelings derived from Bob Dole's bumbling campaign in 1996. What was the result? The NAACP ran anti-Bush radio ads based on a fake issue (his decision to veto a "hate crimes" bill in Texas). The ads featured Renee Mullins, daughter of James Byrd, a black man dragged to his death by three white rednecks. The woman said that she felt as if she had "lost" her father all over again when Bush vetoed the bill (for reasons that had nothing to do with race). Bush pointed out in a later debate that, under Texas law, two of the men were sentenced to death, so

Because of the NAACP's decision, Bush skipped the annual convention for the first six years of his term. In 2004, Bush ended up being re-elected (and received a small uptick in his percentage of the black vote -- which turned out to be crucial in Ohio).

The point is that, as Buchanan noted, Republicans see going to a venue of a constituency that has chosen to be fully in the pocket of the Democratic Party as a high risk/low reward bet. It makes far more sense for the major candidates to devote more time in the primary season to appear in front of groups that represent parts of their own base. There's no reason for Republicans to change their presidential campaigning behavior until they see a change in black voting patterns.

It doesn't help, by the way, that the moderator was Tavis Smiley: He is perceived by many Republicans to be biased against the GOP -- in much the same way as Democrats see Fox News journalists to be biased against their party.

The full video of Buchanan can be found

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