Monday, August 21, 2006

A Tale of Two Standards by Charles Badger

The blogosphere is abuzz with the story of Senator George Allen's off-the-cuff remark at a campaign stop in Virginia. Is it racist? In my mind, the jury is still out; but put me down as being skeptical. Like Jay Bush, I too, had no idea what a "macaca" was. Jay says it sounds like a nut. I think it sounds like some kid of primate or marsupial (I'm still not entirely convinced it's not).

At any rate, I have chosen to write this post not to make a judgment call about the appropriateness of Allen's remark, but to note a hypocrisy. Once again, liberal Democrats are labeling a Republican as racist. Pardon my sense of deja vu, but haven't we been down this road before?

We hear this same tired line time and again from liberals. Most recently, the Trent Lott controversy comes to mind. Liberals are so quick to point these things out when it involves a Republican, yet they are conveniently silent when it's one of their own.

Prime example?...Robert C. Byrd. The Senior Citizen...I mean, Senior Senator from West Virginia is a former Ku Klux Klan member. Byrd filibustered the 1964 Civil Rights Act for 14 hours! And once declared in a letter that he'd rather "die a thousand times" than serve side-by-side with a black soldier, whom he called "race mongrels, a throwback to the blackest specimen from the wilds." He voted against both black nominees to the Supreme Court--Thurgood Marshall and Clarence Thomas. He accused Thomas of "injecting race" into the Senate hearings during Thomas's 1991 confirmation hearings. To top it all off, in 2001, Byrd sat for an interview with then-FOX news report Tony Snow. In which, Byrd used the "N-word" not once, but twice!

Now of course, one would expect that Democrats have roundly condemned Byrd, his racist past, and use of the "N-word." Certainly if liberals get all riled up about some obscure word that people of above average intelligence need a dictionary to define, surely they would be equally sensitive to the most inflammatory racial slur in America, right? Uhm, not exactly.

How have Democrats treated Sen. Byrd?...the man they call the "conscience of the Senate?" The man whom a particular Democrat--Senate colleague Chris Dodd of Connecticut--recently declared should have been a sitting Senator "during the time of the Civil War." How has the Democratic Party treated Byrd?

Certainty they immediately rushed to hold a press conference and repudiate him after his 2001 "N-word" comment? Surely, they gave him a firm slap on the wrist? Sent him to the "Time Out" chair? How about a stern finger-waging? Well, not quite.

In 1967 Democrats made Byrd secretary of the Senate Democrat Caucus. In 1971 they made him Senate Democrat Whip. They elected the former Klansman to lead the Senate as Majority Leader when they were in control from 1977-1980. And Senate Minority Leader again from 1981-1986. They elected him to lead their party when they were out of power from 1987-1988. They made Byrd the chairman of the powerful Appropriations Committee and President Pro Tempore of the Senate from 1989 until the 1994 GOP takeover. And as if Byrd had not been rewarded enough for his stellar record of commitment to freedom and justice for all, the Democrats saw fit to give him another promotion. (Hecka ova job, Byrdie!) In 2001, when they briefly gained a majority in the Senate due to Jim Jefford's defection, Senate Democrats again elected him to the highest ranking office in the Senate--President Pro Tempore, putting the former Klansman forth in line for the presidency of the United States.

But of course, Democrats see no hypocrisy between their current treatment of George Allen and past treatment of Trent Lott compared to their treatment of Robert Byrd. Few Americans have heard the word "macaca" (much less know what it is); but all have heard the N-word. Yet the Democrats, see fit to denounce he who speaks the former but not the later? There's a word for that...Double Standard. Actually, that's two words. My first word was so powerful if deserved a sidekick.

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