My article from the March 23, 2015 issue of FrontPage magazine:
Durbin’s ‘Racism’ Smear Infuriates Republicans
By Matthew Vadum
Republicans were angered last week when the Senate’s second highest ranking Democrat accused them of racism for delaying a confirmation vote for leftist radical Loretta Lynch’s nomination as U.S. attorney general.
“Loretta Lynch, the first African-American woman nominated to be attorney general, is asked to sit in the back of the bus when it comes to the Senate calendar,” said Sen. Richard Durbin (D-Ill.), in an unsubtle reference to the civil rights movement’s campaign to desegregate public transit. “That is unfair. It’s unjust. It is beneath the decorum and dignity of the United States Senate. This woman deserves fairness.”
It has long been axiomatic that when liberals and progressives are fretting about possibly losing a political fight they scream “racist!” repeatedly at the top of their lungs as if sheer repetition of the smear will somehow make it true.
It was the mark of desperation. No more. Now it is standard operating procedure for the Left. When in doubt, call Republicans racists. It works almost every time as the last few decades have shown — and is an especially powerful weapon in the Obama era.
Durbin made the scurrilous racism allegation while Democrats held a press conference in an attempt to reinvigorate the Left’s dishonest “war on women” campaign against the GOP.
“This egregious delay is all in the name of scoring political points by catering to the extreme right wing of the Republican party,” said Sen. Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.). “We are not even three months into this new Congress, and the new majority has done nothing but play partisan politics with some of our nation’s most critical issues.”
Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina, the first black Southern Republican elected to the Senate since Reconstruction, said Durbin’s remarks about the Lynch confirmation process were “factually and patently false. Period.”
“It is helpful to have a long memory and to remember that Durbin voted against Condoleezza Rice during the 40th anniversary of the March [on Selma]. So I think, in context, it’s just offensive that we have folks who are willing to race bait on such an important issue as human trafficking,” said Scott. “Sometimes people use race as an issue that is hopefully going to motivate folks for their fight. But what it does, is it infuriates people.”
Even the occasional left-winger took umbrage at Durbin’s remarks.
Progressive pundit Jonathan Capehart, who is normally happy to throw his lot in with the racial-grievance complex, condemned Durbin’s slander.
“What the hell is Dick Durbin doing?!” Capehart asked on MSNBC’s “Hardball.” He is “mak[ing] himself a distraction to the real issue.”
On the same show, former Republican National Committee chairman Michael Steele added:
I just totally think this is out of bounds and it just takes it to a place it doesn’t need to go. I’m just tired of liberals thinking they can play the civil rights card and just throw around these phrases, you know, back of the bus, and church bombings, and all the other stuff that they tend, the invectives they bring up from the past that this is somehow tragic beyond words that this is happening.
As anyone who has been following the Lynch nomination knows, the months-long delay has to do with Republicans’ well-founded belief that she is manifestly unqualified to serve as the nation’s top law enforcement official.
The Senate Conservatives Fund succinctly summed up why Lynch should not become attorney general:
In her confirmation hearings, Lynch could not identify any limits on the president’s executive power and said she believes executive amnesty is legal and constitutional. The only difference between Loretta Lynch and [current Attorney General] Eric Holder is that Lynch has told everyone that she will ignore the law BEFORE her confirmation vote. Voting to confirm Lynch now would be a clear violation of a senator’s oath to support and defend the Constitution. [block capitals in original]
Lynch also said at her confirmation hearing that she believes illegal aliens possess the same legal right to work in the U.S. as American citizens. This is tantamount to a promise to refuse to enforce the immigration laws of the United States and an in-your-face demonstration that Lynch isn’t qualified to carry out parking ticket prosecutions in Flatbush, let alone head up the U.S. justice system.
The only thing Lynch’s repugnant views might entitle her to is disbarment. Someone who rejects the rule of law and vows not to enforce the nation’s laws is unfit to be attorney general of the United States or even to hold her current position as U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York.
The confirmation vote has also been stalled because Senate Democrats refuse to advance unrelated legislation that would combat human sexual trafficking, Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and other Republicans have said.
“This has nothing to do with race,” McCain said Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” The 2008 presidential candidate added, “I will not vote for her because she has said she would uphold the president’s unconstitutional executive orders concerning immigration.”
Don Stewart, an aide to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), said the confirmation vote will happen as soon as the Senate disposes of the trafficking bill.
“The only thing holding up that vote is the Democrats’ filibuster of a bill that would help prevent kids from being sold into sex slavery,” Stewart said. “The sooner they allow the Senate to pass that bipartisan bill, the sooner the Senate can move to the Lynch nomination.”
Some say Democrats are holding up that measure in order to protect the abortion industry. A bloc of Democratic senators withdrew their support for the trafficking bill when NARAL and Planned Parenthood told them it would cut off taxpayer funding of abortions.
Guy Benson reports that Democrats’ “alleged newfound opposition to the bill stems from unremarkable language barring the use of taxpayer dollars to fund abortions within a fund created by the legislation. Not only is such a provision standard procedure (reflecting strong opposition to using public dollars to pay for abortions), Democrats unanimously supported the bill — abortion language included — in a committee vote weeks ago.”
It needs to be pointed out that Durbin has a long history of selective outrage when it comes race and presidential nominations.
During George W. Bush’s administration, Durbin, who a decade ago also compared American soldiers to “Nazis,” asked Condoleezza Rice to sit in the back of the bus.
At the time the habitual libeler was more interested in grandstanding over why the country went to war in Iraq than in helping an eminently qualified member of a minority group become U.S. secretary of state.
The justifications for war were “just plain wrong, and repeated,” Durbin whined even though Democratic colleagues like then-Sen. Hillary Clinton (D-N.Y.) supported going to war. “Dr. Condoleezza Rice was in the room, at the table, when decisions were made, and she has to accept responsibility for what she said.”
Durbin ended up voting against confirming Rice. She was ultimately confirmed and became the first female African-American secretary of state. Yet no Republicans called Durbin out at the time for being racist.
He fought against the nomination of the brilliant constitutionalist Janice Rogers Brown, the first black woman to be nominated to the powerful U.S. Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia. At the time he said she was “one of President [George W.] Bush’s most ideological and extreme judicial nominees.” She won confirmation.
Durbin admitted in a secret memo that he was blocking Bush’s nomination of Miguel Estrada to the federal bench in part because of his race. Estrada, who eventually withdrew after a two-year confirmation battle, was “especially dangerous, because he has a minimal paper trail, he is Latino, and the White House seems to be grooming him for a Supreme Court appointment.”
Got it. Only Democrats are allowed to play the race card.
The explosion of self-congratulatory self-righteousness that accompanies doing something unprecedented like breaking a so-called glass ceiling for black women only applies when the Left benefits.
The Left already gave away its playbook on race.
Matthew “Mudcat” Arnold, national campaign manager for the hard-left Credo Super PAC, told supporters in 2012 that Credo realized “policy did not move voters.” Smearing conservatives is more effective, he said, according to the Daily Caller.
“When we said that [Iowa Republican Congressman] Steve King … is pro-life and believes in cutting Social Security and voted for the [Congressman Paul] Ryan budget, no one cared,” said Arnold. “When we said Steve King’s a racist, Steve King believes that immigrants ought to be put in electric fences, people moved.”
“When you talk about the substance of a man’s character, people respond,” Arnold added. “Believe it or not, that is not something politicians knew.”
Nowadays congressmen attend lectures on how to smear Republicans. In fact community organizers provide training sessions for Democratic lawmakers at which they learn how to inject race into every issue.
One of these sessions in 2012 was run by Maya Wiley, then-president of the radical, left-wing, racial spoils group known as the Center for Social Inclusion.
As the Washington Examiner reported at the time, the Alinskyite group was brought in “to address the issue of race to defend government programs.”
“The prepared content of a Tuesday presentation to the House Democratic Caucus and staff indicates that Democrats will seek to portray apparently neutral free-market rhetoric as being charged with racial bias, conscious or unconscious.”
Wiley lectured the assembled lawmakers that “conservative messages” are “racially ‘coded,’ ” and suggested ways to combat these imaginary outbursts of racism.
Facts don’t matter. “It’s emotional connection, not rational connection that we need,” she said.
Wiley argued that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) labeling President Obama a “food stamp president,” cannot possibly be “a race-neutral statement, even if Newt Gingrich did not intend racism.” In other words, even though the federal food stamp program has ballooned under the Obama administration, all criticism of Obama for that increased welfare spending — however seemingly legitimate — is rooted in racism. In other words, all criticism of Obama is racism.
The Center for Social Inclusion embraces the toxic brew of Marxism coupled with identity politics. This pabulum that passes for serious thought on the nation’s university campuses holds that America is a morally depraved, structurally racist country that systematically oppresses everyone who is not Caucasian.
Radical America-hating billionaire George Soros is behind this push to teach sitting representatives of the people whose salaries are paid by the taxpayers how to deploy malicious slanders to shut down open debate over government spending.
Soros has donated to the Center for Social Inclusion through his Foundation to Promote Open Society ($275,000 since 2012) and his Open Society Institute ($75,000 since 2002). The Soros-funded Tides Foundation has given the group $1,086,300 since 2005.
Wiley was also a consultant for Soros’s philanthropies and is past chairman of the board of the Tides Network. Not surprisingly, Wiley has moved on to what may be her dream job. She now works as counsel to New York’s Marxist mayor, Bill de Blasio.
The examples of mud-slingers Arnold and Wiley ought to convince Americans that we have come to the point in U.S. politics that whenever left-wingers scream “racist” that the accusation needs to be subject to a rebuttable presumption that it is a lie.
They are crying wolf and deserve to be ridiculed and marginalized for it.