The GOP is throwing spaghetti at the wall to see if one of their ridiculous objections to the rather moderate, careful Elena Kagan’s nomination to the Supreme Court. They made a major misstep in criticizing her admiration of Thurgood Marshall. A misstep for which we will make them pay, hopefully, in the continuing decline of American citizens who are willing to call themselves Republicans in public. There’s been, as George Constanza would say, a little shrinkage.

While the GOP may have double-downed on this line of argument, RNC chief Michael Steele is looking for the exit. From’s attempted clarification of their defense of slavery and the denial of women’s right to vote (emphasis mine):

The statements come from a speech by Justice Thurgood Marshall, in which he says:

The government they devised was defective from the start, requiring several amendments, a civil war, and momentous social transformation to attain the system of constitutional government, and its respect for the individual freedoms and human rights, we hold as fundamental today.

Yet while Marshall pointed to constitutional amendments as redressing the wrongs of slavery, Kagan moves beyond that, contending that, “The credit, in other words, belongs to people like Justice Marshall. As the many thousands who waited on the Supreme Court steps well knew, our modern Constitution is his.”

As much as Liberals want to make the concern Chairman Steele raised about Marshall and slavery, it isn’t (and if it was, I’d note the Chairman admires Justice Marshall breaking barriers both as a lawyer and a justice, and helped rename BWI airport after him). It’s about how Elena Kagan, who is being nominated for a lifetime appointment to the highest court in the land, views the role of the courts in our society.

Um…ok. Look Steele, you can’t have it both ways. You can’t go after Elena Kagan using Thurgood Marshall’s work as a weapon and then hide behind a shield of admiration for the man. You also can’t sic GOP attack dogs using inflammatory racial language, code words and dogwhistles without looking like a slave catcher yourself. You’re in charge. The buck stops with you. If the GOP has any hope of surviving this century of rapid demographic change in America, it will be because responsible leaders stood up and pushed back when it was appropriate.

One of those people was John McCain during his gracious 2008 election concession speech. When members of his audience began cat-calling and hooting like an angry mob, he shut them down and expressed support & admiration for his rival, Barack Obama — the next President of the United States. I’ve said repeatedly in private and now I say it publicly — that man probably saved lives through not allowing racialized rhetoric that re-inforces a sick nostalgia for an America in which legalized inequality reigned. He didn’t allow Sarah Palin to speak either which also probably kept America calm in the midst of an earth-shaking, seismic political shift — the first black president had just been elected. Choices were made on election night 2008. Different ones could have been made. I don’t think I’m overstating the concept that McCain’s actions prevented certain people from killing their black and brown neighbors that night.

I’m not a fan of John McCain — let’s not get excited, folks. What I am saying is that I’m grateful that he acted responsibly for the benefit of the nation. I’m asking Michael Steele to do the same — use your power to tamp down on hateful rhetoric & positions and focus on legitimate issues. Let’s try and keep the bigotry to a minimum, shall we?

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