Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Plantation Politics

Some of my fellow Republicans are trying to raise a ruckus about Senator Clinton's comment that ""when you look at the way the House of Representatives has been run, it has been run like a plantation - and you know what I am talking about." As I have argued elsewhere, Democrats have indeed played some very nasty racial politics. But this time, Republicans are on shaky ground. Not so long ago, they frequently used the word to describe Democratic control of the House:
  • The 1992 Republican platform: "But every part of that opportunity agenda has been thwarted by landlord Democrats in Congress. We ask the electorate: End the strangulation of divided government. Give Republicans the chance to move housing policy off the Democratic Party plantation into the mainstream of American life. "
  • Rep. Bill Thomas, debating Steny Hoyer (D-MD) on congressional reform : "His party had 40 years to pass this kind of legislation. They never did. They talked a lot about it. They made innuendos at that time that it was a fair system. In fact, it was a plantation run totally by patronage" (Congressional Record, December 19, 1995, H15113).
  • Rep. Bob Walker: "Then to have people come to the floor and to describe it as fair to the minority, "We gave you amendments, these are something that we have given you," let me tell the Members, giving us this as they strip us of our rights is nothing. It is like when the people in the South some years ago, I would say to the gentleman from South Carolina [Mr. Derrick], were stripped of their rights but were told how nice it was that `We give you a hovel to live down behind the plantation house'" (Congressional Record, June 24, 1992, H5105).
  • Rep. Newt Gingrich: "I clearly fascinate them," Gingrich said of the Democrats. "I'm much more intense, much more persistent, much more willing to take risks to get it done. Since they think it is their job to run the plantation, it shocks them that I'm actually willing to lead the slave rebellion" (Washington Post, October 20, 1994).

Come on, guys, it's Opposition Research 101: Don't make charges that the other side can so easily throw back in your face.

1 comment:

joel margolis said...

You miss the central point; Hillary Clinton was talking to a black audience and made reference to the audience who would understand the term "plantation" in a southern context.
Democrats, as you well know, controlled those plantations for many centuries and voted to ensure that blacks had few or no opportunities.