The Campaign Spot

Election-driven news and views . . . by Jim Geraghty.

Time for Dick Harpootlian to Go


If we had a press that had even the vaguest sense of even-handedness, there would be loud cries for the resignation for either of the TWO Democratic state-party chairs who comparing their opposition to Nazis.

Today’s comment, in case you missed it:

S.C. Democratic Chairman Dick Harpootlian, never a loss for a quick quip, tossed a few stinging one-liners at the Wednesday delegation breakfast.

On Gov. Nikki Haley participating in daily news briefings in a basement studio at the NASCAR Hall of Fame: “She was down in the bunker a la Eva Braun.”

Earlier this week, California state Democratic-party chairman John Burton invoked Goebbels’s “Big Lie” in denouncing what he insisted were lies on the part of Paul Ryan. Most of the time, when a public figure makes the Gobbels comparison, it represents a speaker wanting to say something like, “Hey, that guy is really, really lying,” but who also finds it convenient to implicitly suggest that the opponent’s agenda is genocidal.

The comment from Harpootlian is much worse, because the only thing Haley did that he can compare to Hitler’s mistress is be in a basement. Thus, in Harpootlian’s mind, anyone who has ever been in a basement can be fairly compared to a woman who slept with Hitler. I suppose we should be thankful that he didn’t say Haley was in the basement . . . just like Hitler himself.

This doesn’t even get into the fact that we’ve got a white male party chairman comparing the country’s second Indian-American governor to a member of a movement that advocated the genetic superiority of the Aryan race. There’s no policy criticism, no criticism of her agenda or ideas within that remark; he just wanted to associate the governor with a Nazi figure and so he charged right ahead.

Sometimes a racially charged comment will have dire consequences for one’s career: Trent Lott and Don Imus come to mind. Other times, the media and public just shrug their shoulders and move on. Harry Reid can marvel at Barack Obama’s lack of a “negro accent” with no real consequence. Bill Clinton can describe Obama to Ted Kennedy as a “guy [who] would have been getting us coffee” not long ago with no real consequence. Hillary Clinton faced accusations of racism for appearing to diminish the accomplishments of Martin Luther King in comparison to Lyndon Johnson — until the Democratic primary ended, and then no liberal had much reason to stir the controversy further. Joe Biden can utter awful stereotypical jokes about Indians running 7-11s and Dunkin’ Donuts with no major repercussion. The president’s mentor trafficked in explicit racial insults — referring to Italians as “garlic noses” — and the topic was deemed irrelevant by many. And of course, there is the former recruiter of the Ku Klux Klan who used the n-word on national television with little major repercussion.

The ability of Democratic officials to make racial remarks, or to use incendiary rhetoric, and avoid consequence is entirely a conscious decision on the collective national news media to find little or nothing newsworthy in these remarks — compared to a week of, say, Todd Akin coverage.

Tags: Dick Harpootlian , Nikki Haley , South Carolina


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