A Democratic consultant’s racist tweet is just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to racism in Kentucky politics, and the Republican Party of Kentucky should be more careful casting stones — unless, of course, they have an ulterior motive.
A former candidate for State Senate who six years later continues to claim that her 2008 loss was due to voter fraud, conspiracy and scandal is a perhaps odd person to hire as a “Democratic consultant” but that’s Kathy Groob and over the weekend as the Fancy Farm festivities got underway, Groob took to Twitter to attack Mitch McConnell’s wife for being “Asian.”
After sending the obviously racist tweet and receiving an obvious, unanimous and scornful backlash from literally everyone, Groob demonstrated her “consultant” skills and went into crisis management mode in which she consulted herself and then based on the advice of her consultant tweeted out an idiotic non-apology “for a poor choice of words” which is not in any way the same as expressing remorse or sincerity. Then she promptly deleted her twitter account.
Republicans ever since — including the Republican Party of Kentucky and that national GOP – have been latching onto this sad and stupid event to show that all Kentucky Democrats are racist and to wonder wonderingly when Kentucky Dems will condemn what Groob said — which is moronic since Groob was condemned by all sides immediately.
The whole saga is a shame. What Groob said was shameful and the Republican response is shameful — Republicans who push this story as though anyone is backing or defending Groob or that her sentiments are shared by anyone of any standing should be ashamed of themselves for spending what’s apparently valuable time peddling so stupid a story.
To be clear, there are lots of things one could say against Elaine Chao. She was the Secretary of Labor under George W. Bush over an 8 year period that — even before the collapse of the economy — saw middle class wages plunge and middle class savings hit lows they hadn’t seen since right after the Great Depression. Her tenure as Secretary of Labor is like a Rick Astley greatest hits album, each highlight more awful than the last, all of them a simple variation on one really terrible song.
The fact that Elaine Chao is “Asian” is completely irrelevant to whatever positions she may hold on free trade, just as it is with Mitch McConnell. Mitch has been lobbying for and protecting trade and currency policies that are deferential to the Chinese for over two decades, since before he was married to Elaine. Mitch isn’t Asian, he’s from Alabama. Being Asian isn’t a prerequisite for being wrong about a China policy that systematically ships US jobs overseas (hell, over half the world’s population is “Asian” and the vast majority of them live in abject poverty and are being wildly exploited by the very people who push the style of free trade McConnell has spent the past twenty years advocating).
Mitch McConnell’s deeply held convictions on trade with China aren’t a product of his relationship with his second wife, they’re just something the two of them have in common, something they can discuss over candlelit dinners when the glow of two decades of marriage dims just a bit and they want to re-ignite that fire. Mitch McConnell simply believes that the bleeding out of American jobs to China (and other places) is good policy — “it’s not a huge problem,” he told the Kentucky Post.
And the fact that he’s Alabamian has nothing to do with his activist approach to blocking US action on China’s currency manipulation and protecting China’s trade interests at the expense of Kentucky workers. It would obviously be unfair to suggest that all Alabamians think exporting US jobs is good policy.
With that said… the Kentucky Republican Party is delighting in the chance to say Democrats are racist. They’re demanding that people denounce Kathy Groob (which again, has already been done), but where is there outrage for their own kind?
Who among the Kentucky Republican Party is denouncing the members of the Kentucky Republican Party?
Let’s start with Mitch McConnell. At Fancy Farm on Saturday, around the same time Groob was on twitter, Mitch McConnell referred to the small, young, helpless children who have been sent fleeing from their violence-torn small towns in Central America as “hordes.”
— Phillip M. Bailey (@phillipmbailey) August 2, 2014
— Joe Sonka (@joesonka) August 2, 2014
Now, you might think that using the term “horde” to describe a group of helpless children is totally fine… but if you do, you’re probably a racist. That is a racist, demeaning, xenophobic and fear-mongering way for Mitch McConnell to refer to helpless children. Does it rile up the Republican base? Yes! Does it play to their fears, their anger, and their racism? Yes it does. Sure, you may say, a horde is just a large group of people and that’s true but its meaning by any reputable dictionary is derogatory.
Who is admonishing Mitch McConnell for his derogatory attack on a group of helpless children? Or was it just a poor choice of words?
And then there’s this — does this quote seem an overly broad generalization of a group of people based on their nationality:
“American employees must be punctual, dress appropriately and have good personal hygiene. They need anger-management and conflict-resolution skills, and they have to be able to accept direction. Too many young people bristle when a supervisor asks them to do something.”
American workers are poorly dressed, unshowered and really angry. And they don’t follow directions. Got it.
Will the Kentucky Republican Party disavow those sentiments? Or were they just a poor choice of words?
Or… hey, what about Hal Rogers.
Congressman Rogers gave a speech at a dinner in 2011 which made news because of Hal’s racist joke about Chinese people:
The Appropriations Committee chairman went on to describe a dinner with “the Chinese ambassador, who spoke broken English but was trying to impress his staff with his knowledge of the U.S.” (Rogers didn’t specify which ambassador; China has sent three different envoys to D.C. over the past decade.)
The diplomat told his staff that they needed to know how to pronouce the name of the city where the Kentucky Derby is held, said Rogers:“‘It’s not Roo-ee-ville, it’s Roo-uh-ville.’”
Get it? It’s funny because Chinese people are stupid and don’t speak our language! Very funny, Hal Rogers. Very funny.
Rogers’ spokesman called it “an unfortunate attempt at humor” which is a nice way of saying “That was really racist, Hal regrets his poor choice of words.”
Or… you know what, what about Garland H. Barr IV? Yes, dear old Congressman Andy Barr and his family are members of the Idle Hour Country Club which until 2010 — TWO THOUSAND AND TEN!!!! — was a WHITES ONLY establishment. Black people, Asians and Hispanics… all excluded.
“My family has been a member for a long time,” Barr said. “It’s not an issue. It should not be an issue. I’m a member of a lot of organizations in Central Kentucky. I was born and raised in Central Kentucky. And I love my community.”
It’s not an issue? Yeah, right. Maybe not to you, Garland. And since when is “loving your community” an acceptable cover for belonging to a racist organization?
When will the Kentucky Republican Party admonish Andy? When will they disavow him? When Andy said that his membership in a racist organization “should not be an issue” was that just a poor choice of words?
The list could go on. For G-d’s sake, Rand Paul opposes the Civil Rights Act and employed a guy nicknamed the “Southern Avenger” who paraded around in a confederate flag mask!
So it’s more than a little ridiculous for the Republican Party of Kentucky to harp on this Kathy Groob incident. The more they do, the more they are asking for any of the above issues to be raised, and they probably don’t want to fight those fights. (Perhaps it’s too late.)
And in fact, that’s possibly what this is all about. The Kentucky Republican Party is rich with racism (see above; would rather not continue) so Groob’s idiotic, racist and reprehensible tweet was a great event for the RPK. It allows them a rare opportunity to be on the other end of “cultural sensitivity.” It has less to do with any particular opposition to racism (again, see above), and more to do with a chance to feel better about their own entrenched racism… because, see, the other side is racist, too!
And it’s true. There’s a lot of racism out there, there’s a lot of stupidity. The Kentucky Republican Party highlighting the propensity for racism within Kentucky politics does neither the state nor their Party any favors, but perhaps it does do a public service in reminded us all how far we still have to go.