The Republicans in exile have been an ugly and ill-tempered crew, even before the election of Barack Obama as president, that mismatch most everyday Republicans have since reconciled themselves to: First it was the right wing of the punditburo (Noonan, Krauthammer, Brooks) weighing in, heavily against him. Then Sean Hannity brought forth trash talk and fabrications. Further along, radio Doberman Rush Limbaugh did away with civility altogether (“I hope he fails!”). Then came the nakedly partisan voting against the president’s stimulus bill.
That was all bad enough. But two recent statements from two different Republicans brought home just how strangely, frighteningly desperate the GOP is today — desperate enough to impugn the character and insult the race of the president of the United States. This is Gotterdammerung for dummies, a twilight of the dim bulbs.
Live from Orange County, the conservative sliver of Southern California that brought you the John Birch Society, and State Senator John Briggs, father of a failed bid to ban gay and lesbian teachers (Proposition 6) ; where bloggers patly trumpet ADAM AND EVE NOT ADAM AND STEVE in response to just about any issue related to gay and lesbian civil rights … here’s Dean Grose!
He’s not yet a household name yet, but Grose, the mayor of tiny Los Alamitos, is well on his way to a spot in some idiot hall of fame for an e-mail he sent to a friend from a personal account — a panoramic photo-illustration of the White House with the lawn lined with rows of watermelons, under the title “No Easter egg hunt this year.” Cue the hoop skirts and antebellum banjoes.
Keyanus Price, a black local businesswoman and volunteer, said she got the e-mail from Grose's personal account. "I have had plenty of my share of chicken and watermelon and all those kinds of jokes," Price told The Associated Press. "I honestly don't even understand where he was coming from, sending this to me."
The Orange County Register first reported the e-mail late Tuesday.
Retreating to a breathtakingly brazen display of social ignorance, Grose told the AP said he was unaware of the racial stereotype connecting black people and watermelons.
He said he and Price are friends, or were. “Bottom line is, we laugh at things and I didn't see this in the same light that she did,” Grose said. “I'm sorry. It wasn't sent to offend her personally — or anyone — from the standpoint of the African-American race.”
Price is not so sure. “Now I am like, ‘wow, is this really how he feels?’” she said.
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Alan Keyes, that reliable voice in the wilderness of a party in the wilderness, had laced up the gloves against the president days earlier. On Feb. 20, in an interview with a reporter in Hastings, Neb., the veteran firebrand Republican iconoclast came to the conclusion that President Obama “is a radical communist. He’s going to destroy this country, and either we’re going to stop him or the United States of America is going to cease to exist.”
“The man is an abomination. He is someone who has actually advocated infanticide … I can’t understand why anyone in their right mind would consider him worthy of political support.”
And Keyes, who ran against Obama for the Senate seat in 2004, and lost, revived the controversy over the Obama birth certificate — the controversy that’s not a controversy. “Is he? Is he president of the United States? … He has refused to provide proof that he is a natural-born citizen … At the moment he is somebody who is kind of an alleged usurper …”
You’re left to wonder if there’s something — a strain of rampant cell-destroying virus, bacteria in the water — that’s visited the brains of some in the Grand Old Party. With a broad tactic of character assassinations, innuendo and opposition seen as less based on principle than on politics, the GOP has adopted that crouch of utter desperation, a determination to fight off an enemy it sees everywhere, like a cornered animal with nothing left to fight with but its claws and sheer nerve.
This is the party of Lincoln today. This is the Republican Party 2009. This is not the way back to the White House.
Image credit: White House image: Orange County Register. Grose: Smartvoter.org
'Vox Update: Feb. 28: Dean Grose has resigned as mayor of Los Alamitos effective March 2. He has reportedly accepted a position with a watermelon PAC in Washington.