After weeks of conservative protest against the race-baiting ads in the Mississippi Senate race, ads financed by a PAC controlled by Republican National Committeeman Henry Barbour, the Republican National Committee met last week, spent well over an hour talking about the nasty Mississippi race… and gave Barbour two ovations, at least one of them a standing ovation!
Sources confirm that not a single soul stood up and spoke publicly to rebuke Barbour, to ask for some sort of apology, or even to make it clear that the RNC should formally disassociate itself from such activity even without making it personal to Barbour.
This is mind-boggling.
Missouri Republican Chairman Ed Martin had proposed two resolutions for the RNC that would have censured Barbour or otherwise criticized the Mississippi shenanigans. The resolutions committee refused even to consider those proposals for review (as reported by Jeffrey Lord at The American Spectator). Then, at a members-only meeting, Mississippi State Chairman Joe Nosef took quite a long time explaining the status of losing candidate Chris McDaniel’s legal challenge to the primary results. Then Barbour was given a long time to defend himself and to criticize Martin for not having called him on the phone before sending out e-mails questioning his actions. Barbour got very emotional, and was described as wiping away some tears. At his display of emotion, he received an ovation. When he finished, he received another ovation. The two Mississippians together had spoken for over an hour.
North Carolina committeewoman Ada Fisher spoke, saying that she supported any and all efforts to attract black citizens to vote for Republicans. Then Martin got a chance to speak. He had already sent a summary of his complaints to all the members. So he just offered a prayer. He took less than five minutes.
And nobody, not a single member, then stood up to make the point that the ads were unacceptable. Nobody spoke up on behalf of all the outside conservative heavyweights who had complained. Everybody just moved on. And race-baiting thus went uncriticized at the meeting, while the source of some of the ads was strongly applauded.
Outrageous. Pathetic. Inexcusable.
Look, I can understand a desire to avoid a formal censure of Barbour. I can give Barbour credit, of sorts, for having acted in some way from an admirable conviction, very wrongly applied, to bring black voters into the Republican fold. But the ads he financed were wrong. Dead wrong. I cannot understand why nobody pressed him for an apology, why nobody pushed him at least to say that maybe, in the heat of the battle, he (or his money) went too far. And I absolutely cannot understand why he was applauded.
As I’ve written before, paraphrasing Justice John Roberts, the way to stop making race-baiting appeals is to stop making appeals on the basis of race.
If the RNC wants to thumb its nose entirely at major conservative leaders, it is asking for trouble. If its members are so disconnected from grassroots activists that it ignores their demands for accountability, they are not doing their jobs.
And if, as has been its habit, the RNC or the Republican National Senatorial Committee blow a chance to make big gains in this fall’s elections, there should be Hades to pay.