The Monday Morning Teaser

The featured post this week is a reaction to the controversy over Steve Scalise having spoken to a white supremacist group in 2002. I’ll skip over points well-covered elsewhere and the opportunity to accuse a member of the House Republican leadership of racism, and go straight to the point I think this incident illustrates: not that Republicans are all racists, but that racists are a big enough part of the Republican base (especially in the South) that a rising politician needs to court them. Scalise foolishly courted them in person rather than through hints made elsewhere, but that was a mis-step in what (for conservatives) is a gray area.

The question this incident raises for me is the title of the article: “Will Republicans Ever Have a Sister Souljah Moment?” In other words, will a major Republican candidate ever intentionally and visibly offend the more extreme parts of his base in order to gain credibility with the center? Liberal Democrats often face the question of whether they should (or why they don’t) stage a Sister Souljah moment with some liberal constituency. But conservative Republicans never do. Instead, they compete to be the “true conservative” in the race.

So by all means, Republican candidates should speak to white supremacist groups — to explain why they support renewing the Voting Rights Act or passing immigration reform — and get themselves booed off the stage. But they won’t.

That post should be out in an hour or two. The weekly summary will talk about the weird implications of NYPD’s “slowdown”, some best-of-2014 stuff I found, interesting economic observations from Joseph Stiglitz, the Ducks’ unique post-Rose-Bowl taunting, and the sky-diving elephants from France. I’m not sure how long that will take to finish, but I’m aiming to post by noon.

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Comments

  • Rocjard Drewna  On January 7, 2015 at 11:36 pm

    Thomas Edsall in the NYTimes claims Cory Gardner in Colorado won by repudiating extremism (http://nyti.ms/1xHR58B). Does that count?

    • weeklysift  On January 9, 2015 at 5:45 am

      Not unless there’s more to the story than Edsall tells us. It looks like Gardner shifted to the center. But a Sister Souljah moment is when a politician intentionally picks a fight with his party’s extremists, not just when s/he expresses a more moderate position.

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