After Sen. Tommy Tuberville (R-AL) made remarks that seemed to suggest he is comfortable having white supremacists in the military, and his office "clarified" that was not his meaning, we wrote that we weren't buying the clarification. Turns out we were right to be skeptical, because the Senator was asked yesterday to "clarify" on his own behalf, and he pretty much doubled down.
Again, we shall allow the Senator to speak for himself; here is the exchange he had with NBC reporter Julie Tsirkin:
TSIRKIN: Do you want to clarify your comments?
TUBERVILLE: The Democrats characterize all MAGA Republicans in the military as white nationalists. Wrong. Okay, we can't get politics in the military. This has nothing to do with extremists and all this, you know, my first day here was January 6, had several senators stand up on the Senate floor saying to me we got too many white nationalists, I mean, what the heck is that? We all got different beliefs. You know I'm a Church of Christ, Catholics, we got different people. And we all have to make one military. We can't start distinguishing different types of people. OK. That's all I say.
The full exchange actually lasted for quite a while; at one point Tuberville also added this: "I look at a white nationalist as a Trump Republican." Undoubtedly, quite a few Democrats could get behind the notion that "Trump Republican" and "white nationalist" are synonyms. But that's not the exact idea the Senator is trying to get across. What he's really trying to say is: (1) there are no white nationalists, and (2) the people who claim there are white nationalists are just using that as a slur to denigrate Trump voters. Both notions are, to be blunt, stupid, and it does not help that Tuberville expresses himself like someone who has a perpetual concussion. Still, he will pay no political price for any of this, of course.
On the other hand, since we're on the subject, there is a politician who may well pay a price for his retrograde views on racism. That would be Tuberville's almost-neighbor, Lt. Gov. Mark Robinson (R-NC), the Black fellow who looks to be the frontrunner for his party's gubernatorial nod next year. As it turns out, Robinson is not much of a fan of the Civil Rights Movement. Or the "so-called Civil Rights Movement," as he describes it. He thinks, for example, that the gentlemen who staged a sit-in at the Woolworth's lunch counter did not do it because they were anti-racism, but because they were anti-capitalism. Specifically, Robinson says they pulled "the rug out from underneath capitalism and free choice and the free market." He is also saddened that "so many freedoms were lost during the Civil Rights Movement."
As we have written many times, many Republicans have this fantasy that if the Party nominates a Black candidate, then Black voters will flock to the GOP banner. This is, on the whole, nonsense. It is true that Black voters, like many other groups of voters, will use group identification to help guide their voting when they don't otherwise know much about a candidate. But even on downballot races, policy (and, thus, the D or R next to the name) matters a lot more to them, just as it does with all other voters. And once we get to the top-of-the-ticket races, the candidates are well known, and things like skin color, religion, gender, etc., matter little, except to the extent that they imply policy positions (e.g., a woman candidate is more likely to attract pro-choice voters).
If Robinson does indeed end up as his party's candidate next year, he's going to get very few Black votes. He's also going to persuade many Black voters to get themselves to the polls to vote against him and his deeply offensive views. And so, while denigrating the Civil Rights Movement might be an excellent primary strategy, it's a disastrous choice for the general election. (Z)