Friday, April 14, 2006

Race Games in Maryland

The NY Post tells us: a strategist hired by the Democratic National Committee who polled black Maryland voters has issued a stern warning to the party: "Steele's messaging to the African-American community has clearly had a positive effect - with many voters reciting his campaign slogans and his advertising.

"Democrats must be aggressive. Steele is a unique challenge. Democrats can not afford to wait until after the primary election to knock Steele down. A persuasion campaign should start as soon as possible to discredit Steele as a viable candidate for the community." (Emphasis in original.)

For "persuasion," read smear Steele before he gets any more traction.

Rather than remain focused on their own multi-candidate primary, Maryland Democrats want to turn Steele into a dirty word in the eyes of black voters.

What's fascinating in this news is how little attention this report has generated among white Democrats: Sarbanes, for one, hasn't said a word.

But Steele's been on the Democrats' radar screen for some time. Last fall, the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee - Charles Schumer, proprietor - illegally obtained a copy of Steele's financial records. When it was found out, two low-level staffers had to resign (one pleaded guilty to computer fraud).

So it's not like Schumer's acolytes don't know how to play hardball.

Still, there are - or should be - certain lines in politics, and the Howard Dean-led DNC has crossed one of them. This sort of racially-motivated attack politics is outrageous and offensive.

Schumer may not be responsible for the DNC memo, but he needs to explicitly repudiate both it and the tactics it is encouraging.

And he needs to make clear that whoever carries his party's banner in the fall must reject a racialist campaign against a black man who just happens to be a Republican.

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