PEEK

The Role of Race in Rove's Resignation

Andre Banks: Did Rove's push to woo Latino voters make him an outcast amongst the Republican base?
This post, written by Andre Banks, originally appeared on Race Wire

If you haven't heard, Karl Rove, whom the NY Times had the courage to describe as President Bush's "strategist" (rather than his "chief thug" or "head goon") resigned today.

While bounding through the InterWeb following the story this morning, I happened upon this unexpected gem hypothesizing about Rove's decision to leave his White House post at this particular moment. Among other more defensible reasons (like staying ahead of likely implications in no less than three high-profile Republican scandals), I was bemused to see an IN-tolerance for racism listed as one of his reasons for vacating a top job on Pennsylvania Avenue:
I said there was one exception to the rule that Rove simply "creates his own reality" and makes policy promises without delivering on those promises. The exception was supposed to be Latino voters. That is, Rove really did want to court the Latino vote, rather than just claiming Republicans had Latino support. The reason is obvious: if Republicans don't get Latino voters, they're sunk.
Of course, this conflicts (and has, in noticeable ways) with the nativist instincts of the base of the Republican party. About the only thing, at this point, that could mobilize the Republican base (and save some Congressional seats, if not the White House) is to give in to these nativist instincts, and start attacking brown people with gusto. But I doubt Rove would stick around for that--he knows the numbers too well. So it's possible that Rove is out so the Republicans can turn into the full-fledged racist party they've always been.
This is well intended, but wrong. In fact, I don't see any conflict for Rove or anyone else in the Bush administration around recruiting Latino votes AND moving racist policies, that is, policies that do disproportionate harm to communities of color. This is how the Bush camp works: create one reality that disenfranchises people in general and along the color line, then spin a tale of plausible deniability that the mainstream media won't challenge and the American public will consume.
Andre Banks is the Director of Media and Public Affairs at the Applied Research Center and Associate Publisher of ColorLines magazine.
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