This week in racism: The GOP appeal to minorities.

I really don’t need to say anything more than what’s in this summary of a Conservative Political Action Conference panel on race relations held this week:

A panel at the Conservative Political Action Committee on Republican minority outreach exploded into controversy on Friday afternoon, after an audience member defended slavery as good for African-Americans.

The exchange occurred after an audience member from North Carolina, 30-year-old Scott Terry, asked whether Republicans could endorse races remaining separate but equal. After the presenter, K. Carl Smith of Frederick Douglass Republicans, answered by referencing a letter by Frederick Douglass forgiving his former master, the audience member said “For what? For feeding him and housing him?” Several people in the audience cheered and applauded Terry’s outburst.

After the exchange, Terry muttered under his breath, “why can’t we just have segregation?” noting the Constitution’s protections for freedom of association.

Oh yeah, and the Tea Baggers blamed the whole bad vibe from this panel on a black woman who asked a question.

And this, ladies and gentlemen, is what Republicans lovingly refer to as outreach.

 

A disheartened base

Just another reminder that while the GOP presidential candidates are bending over backwards to satisfy the extremes of their base, the Democratic presidential candidate has managed to alienate his base in the unreasonable desire for bipartisan cooperation. (From Crooks and Liars and the Washington Post):

New cracks have begun to show in President Obama’s support amongst African Americans, who have been his strongest supporters. Five months ago, 83 percent of African Americans held “strongly favorable” views of Obama, but in a new Washington Post-ABC news poll that number has dropped to 58 percent. That drop is similar to slipping support for Obama among all groups.

Cornell West and Tavis Smiley have been on Obama’s case over this for months. But their complaints aren’t really the focus here. They just enjoy providing good soundbites. What’s relevant is that the country’s economic problems have hit the black population harder than any other American demographic. When a black president garners less than a 60 percent favorable view from African Americans, the only thing you can say is that he’s completely screwed it up.

Obama will win the black vote in 2012. But with Republican state legislatures passing laws specifically geared to cutting into black turnout and with a devastating economy that’s going to damp any enthusiasm, he’s got to do more to make the base want to fight for him.