Jan 302005

It hasn’t taken long for the Bushies to take up and start trying to play the race card. Interesting, as its something the right continuously criticizes Democrats for doing.

They are playing the card in two ways. On the one hand, they are trying to gain support for the President’s Social Security elimination program. They are trying to convince African-Americans they get short shrift from Social Security because they don’t live as long as White’s.

In a column in the New York Times, Paul Krugman eviscerates this argument. At the heart of the right’s contention is that high mortality rates prevent many African Americans from receiving benefits. Krugman writes,

It’s true that the current life expectancy for black males at birth is only 68.8 years – but that doesn’t mean that a black man who has worked all his life can expect to die after collecting only a few years’ worth of Social Security benefits. Blacks’ low life expectancy is largely due to high death rates in childhood and young adulthood. African-American men who make it to age 65 can expect to live, and collect benefits, for an additional 14.6 years – not that far short of the 16.6-year figure for white men…

The persistent gap in life expectancy between African-Americans and whites is one measure of the deep inequalities that remain in our society – including highly unequal access to good-quality health care. We ought to be trying to diminish that gap, especially given the fact that black infants are two and half times as likely as white babies to die in their first year.

So, not unexpectedly, the Bushies are using statistics in a context to support their attempt to eliminate one of the few working federal programs in favor of enriching their Wall Street supporters. And because of the current budget deficits, which Bush seems unconcerned about, he is attempting to freeze all but defense spending, meaning young African-Americans will have even less access of the healthcare and programs that would help them overcome this life-expectancy deficit. Instead, W is more concerned about ending Social Security.

The other way the Republicans are attempting to play the race card is even more obvious. As the Democrats in the Senate are examining the records of two Bush nominations (Gonzales and Rice), the Republicans are attempting to paint the Democratic opposition as racial. Sadly, I supposed a few people will buy into this ridiculous argument. I can?t believe they haven?t tried the gender card yet to attempt to defend Condi.

It should be obvious to anyone that Gonzales involvement in drafting the torture memos, his assertion that the President, as Commander-in-Chief is somehow above the law, and his dishonesty about his involvement in helping W avoid answering questions about his DUI arrest merit examination and review by the Senate under the Constitutionally mandated advice and consent.

Condi Rice was clearly involved in providing the American public with inaccurate information about Saddam’s threat to the United States. Its obvious she mislead American’s about the situation in regard to the situation in Iraq, and I believe her actions were deliberate?again, actions that merit legitimate and complete examination. There is no reason to believe there is anything remotely related to race at work here.

Beyond the obvious lack of evidence to support this sort of theory, Republicans accusing Democrats of racism is, on its face, a bit ridiculous. Consider that the Republicans are the party of Trent Lott and Strom Thurmond (maybe the ultimate hypocrite).

I must hand it to the Republicans though. They have successfully played this game before. Witness the Clarence Thomas nomination to the Supreme Court. Here again, a person of color is nominated for a high office. Many believe Mr. Thomas is not qualified by training, experience and temperament. When the information began to surface that he might be unsuited for the job, the race card was played remember the famous high tech lynching line. The result is that Democrats caved, and now there is a totally unqualified person on the Supreme Court.

Let’s hope Americans are now too sophisticated for this sort of race-baiting, but a lot of Americans have certainly fallen for the Bush lies time and again, so my optimism is tempered.

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