If this campaign against TBE was ever about anything other than 2016 GOP intra-party contests, that veil is now lifted.
Readers of Bearing Drift have recently been treated to a seemingly endless stream of invective aimed at fellow Republicans in general, and this website in particular. The most prominent thing they have been harping on with respect to TBE has been the ill-advised (and out-of-context) remarks of my colleague Jeanine Martin, which I wrote about here and for which Jeanine has apologized.
My old friend Shaun Kenney was pretty transparent about what’s been motivating him when he linked his criticism to the man who terminated his employment at RPV, Chairman John Whitbeck, and made the silly accusation that The Bull Elephant was founded to be the mouthpiece for the conservatives on the RPV State Central Committee who backed Whitbeck. The grievance mongering, demonization, push for purity-enhancing purges–they are all, as Shaun hints, about intra-party elections in 2016.
Confirmation of this came last night when RPV First Vice Chairman Mike Thomas sent out a letter to the Sate Central Committee asking them to publicly condemn Martin’s remark. Predictably, Kenney posted the letter on his website this morning.
Thomas is a key figure in the VCN, an organization formed to retake the State Central Committee for the “establishment.” (See here, “Reclaiming the Elephant,” for more on VCN).
Thomas justifies his call to publicly condemn Martin’s remark on the basis that we should not tolerate debate that alienates minority communities or otherwise hampers efforts to be more inclusive. I completely agree with this sentiment.
However, if the interest is in advancing the Party’s outreach to all communities, highlighting an ill-advised but out-of-context quote from blogger that originally appeared deep in the comments section of a post that is now two weeks old is probably counterproductive. Promoting this letter now, when the blogger (a blogger! Not a party official) in question has already acknowledged the issue and apologized, accomplishes little beyond perhaps elevating this tempest in a teapot to the pages of the Washington Post.
Ahh…but wait. That’s the point, isn’t it? This issue is being revived not as a means of enhancing the unprecedented inclusion efforts of Whitbeck’s RPV, but as a means of sidelining it to score points in the upcoming 2016 contests for seats on the State Central Committee.
With all due respect to Jeanine, she’s just a blogger and not only is promoting this controversy harmful to the Party, it’s bizarre to single out someone with such an attenuated connection to official Party position. While I appreciate that Mike Thomas has the RPV Creed in mind with his critique, I wonder if he would have thought it productive for members of the SCC nine years ago to have issued a letter condemning George Allen (far more relevant than Jeanine) for his “macaca” remarks? Or for his remarks about his Jewish heritage? I think not.
This summer we’ve seen a lot of posts at BD aimed at us (7? 8? 9? I lose count). Some have had valid critiques, but for most we won’t dignify the accusations and silly mischaracterizations they contain by rebutting them one by one. Why engage with an “argument” that begins with calling you racist, falsely linking you with white supremacists, and referring to you as “scum” who purge the Republican Party of anyone who disagrees?
It’s worth noting the psychological projection on that last bit…although we’ve been accused of this by BD, no one here calls for those that disagree with us to be run out of the party. But that leftist zeal to run people out of the Party has become commonplace at “Virginia’s Conservative Voice.”
The urge to purge has been particularly strong in Kenney, and especially on the issue of immigration. Anyone remember this charming gem (“GOP official says his party’s full of bigots!“)??
As Mickey Kaus noted at The Daily Caller around the time Shaun became Executive Director at RPV**, Kenney wrote some pretty alarming things for a GOP official.
In [Kenney’s post at Bearing Drift] he argues that ‘Conservatives have a moral duty to drive out nativism once and for all.’ It becomes clear by the end of the post that when he says ‘nativist’ he’s including more or less everyone in the party who opposes ‘comprehensive immigration reform.’
So is this conclusion valid? Judge for yourself. Here’s what Mr. Kenney wrote:
“There are 12 million people in the United States today who want a better lives for themselves and their families, whose only crime was that they came to America to do it.
The nativists have a very simple solution: apprehend all 12 million of them, boxcar them back to their point of origin, and drive them out as so many locusts. …
The American conservative movement has driven out ideologies from our camp once before. We drove out the progressives and the America First movement in the 1940s. We did it again with the John Birch Society in the 1960s. We did it once again with the anarchists in the 1980s. Every time we have purged the ranks of poison, we have emerged stronger …
It’s time to clean house.
You will hear a lot of talk in the coming months about immigration reform. In it will be included guest worker programs, documented worker status, real border enforcement that doesn’t require walls, and a sound program that takes an antiquated immigration system and brings it into the 21st century. That’s not amnesty, that’s reform.
Conservatives embrace the idea of more Americans coming into this country to work hard and prosper.
Nativists reject Pedro. …
Drive em out, ladies and gentlemen.“
So, if you oppose amnesty you must favor rounding up people and shipping them off in boxcars (you know, like Hitler did to the Jews), and you’re racist “poison” who should be driven from the ranks of respectable conservatives.
As I wrote previously, the tactic at work here is to demonize opponents. If those on the other side of an argument can be made to seem evil, ugly, and racist, people become less likely to associate with those people and their arguments…an ugly, debate-stifling way to get what you want. It’s the “expressive choice” playbook Shaun has lectured on for years.
Last year Shaun employed that tactic against Dave Brat and opponents of the amnesty plan backed by Eric Cantor. This year he’s employing it in service of the same folks. If my friends want to focus on building the Party, I suggest they start by getting hold of their own instinct to shrink it.
** For the record, I supported and applauded Shaun’s appointment as Executive Director and his performance in the job, the out-of-the-mainstream thinking above notwithstanding. And, as far as I know, I was the last member of State Central to defend him before his termination. I truly believe there is a place in our Party for a wide range of beliefs and ideologies, and said at the time that Shaun brought an admirable level of professionalism to RPV that we hadn’t seen in some time. I’m glad to see he’s landed on his feet.