Now That Ralph Washington Has Switched, Let’s Talk About Lord Bob

guillory bryant @largeI said yesterday I was going to hold my fire on that atrocious column Lord Bob Mann, who parlayed two decades of partisan Democrat spin-doctoring into a sinecure as the Manship Chair of the Manship School of Mass Communications at LSU and is a newly-minted lefty screedster at the Times-Picayune on Sundays, belched forth into cyberspace over the weekend.

I wanted to hold it for a reason. Namely, that today at lunch Ralph Washington, the mayor pro-tem of the city of Central here in East Baton Rouge Parish, has switched parties to Republican. Washington’s switch makes him the second holder of elected office in Louisiana in as many weeks to switch from being a black Democrat to a black Republican, and his switch comes as a direct consequence of the @large conference at which the first party-switcher, Elbert Guillory, made his announcement.

There are other party-switchers coming. In fact, Darrell Glasper, a former Baton Rouge Metro Councilman, has also switched parties to Republican after attending @large. Glasper’s switch wasn’t big news largely because he’s not a current office-holder, but he’s a name player in the political game in this town. And I know of two other elected officials who are contemplating a switch and could go public at any time.

I know this because I was on the scene at @large and helped to organize it.

Take a guess who never darkened the door at that conference. If you guessed “Lord Bob Mann,” you guessed correctly.

Bob Mann didn’t hear a single speaker at that conference, Bob Mann didn’t see the festivities or talk to anybody involved with it and Bob Mann has less knowledge of what we were trying to accomplish with it and how far along we are than any homeless guy under an overpass.

All Bob Mann knows is that it’s inconvenient for the Louisiana Democrat Party to lose black officeholders to the Republicans, as that’s a good indication of how dead that party really is. And Bob Mann knows that a dead Louisiana Democrat Party doesn’t reflect too well on his legacy, since he’s one of the people whose mendacity and incompetence helped to kill it. Let’s not forget that Bob Mann was Kathleen Blanco’s chief media flack, and we still don’t know exactly what his role was in crafting that attempt at a media narrative blaming George W. Bush for his boss’ complete – and admitted – failure to respond adequately to the storm. That party has never recovered from Blanco’s incompetence and Mann’s blamecasting, which is why he’s no longer working in politics and is instead bloviating from a comfortable perch in academia.

Such bloviations, as it happens, include a steady diet of calumnies along the “Republicans are racist” line.

So that’s why you get an idiotic declamation from him on Sunday, which opens with his claim that Elbert Guillory is a friend of his before spending the rest of the column essentially calling Guillory an Uncle Tom for becoming a Republican.

That’s why you get Mann quoting this paragraph from a post I wrote here at the Hayride explaining the rationale for @large, with the bolded part being what he actually quoted…

“But because the GOP doesn’t know how to fix this problem we think maybe an independent approach might prove effective. Our theory is, we want to empower and inspire black conservatives to fix it from the ground up. We think that if we spend some time training folks who recognize the damage Democrat policies and governance do to the black community – their community – and giving them some resources to question the establishment, we might begin to move the needle.”

Maybe it’s me, but it didn’t quite appear as though Mann wanted the full context of that paragraph to be in front of his readers.

That’s why you get Mann saying conservatives are wasting our time engaging in a real outreach to the black community and trying to help black conservatives challenge what is by any measure a failed status quo set up to benefit white Democrat politicians like the ones Bob Mann spent most of his adult life flacking for.

Why does Bob Mann care if conservatives and Republicans are wasting our time? He’s not one of us and he certainly doesn’t have our best interests at heart; if we’re wasting our time in an activity, he should be encouraging us to keep it up rather than letting fly with the name-calling invective he launched on Sunday.

This was the heart of Mann’s case for why black people will never vote Republican…

African-Americans are actually pretty keen at figuring out which party truly respects them.

They know that former House Speaker Newt Gingrich last year invited himself to speak to the NAACP, saying he would discuss “why the African-American community should demand pay checks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

Black unemployment is higher than that of any other major demographic group. Why is it racist for Newt Gingrich to challenge the NAACP’s failure to advocate for economic empowerment and increased prosperity rather than free stuff from the government per subsistence programs designed by white lefties like Bob Mann? Gingrich isn’t allowed to believe black people can do better?

They’ve seen racist signs waved at Tea Party events.

A calumny. Has Bob Mann bothered to ask C.L. Bryant, K. Carl Smith, Alonzo Rachel, Herman Cain, Allen West or any of the other prominent Tea Party figures who happen to be of African descent whether they think the Tea Party is racist? He hasn’t. Instead, he offers up something from the Hard Left site Mother Jones showing one guy holding a sign which rather indelicately equates the plight of modern taxpaying Americans with that of slaves in a prior era and declares that to be evidence of Tea Party racism.

They’ve heard then-Gov. Haley Barbour of Mississippi whitewash the racist White Citizens Councils of the 1950s and 1960s.

Naturally, Lord Bob neglects to mention that the racist White Citizens Councils of the 1950’s and 1960’s were all Democrats like Bob Mann is. He also neglects to mention that the Ku Klux Klan which ultimately served as the muscle behind the White Citizens Councils was often throughout its history just as unpleasant toward Republicans as it was toward blacks. Haley Barbour being one of the first organizers of the Republican Party in Mississippi at a time when Democrats there were still engaging in openly racist activity, and serving two highly successful terms as governor of that state during the least racist period of its history, obviously aren’t circumstances Lord Bob has any interest in.

They know that Texas Gov. Rick Perry had a hunting camp called “Niggerhead.

Which has been debunked as evidence of Perry’s racism even by liberal academics, and Bob Mann is either a shameful ignoramus or possessed with such a pronounced lack of ethics as to render him, er, perfectly suited as a spin doctor for crooked Democrat politicians for most of his adult life, to bring it out as evidence of racism among Republicans or conservatives. Perhaps we have our answer.

You know what’s funny about that charge? When Rick Perry and his father first acquired that hunting lease and for a long time afterward, Rick Perry was a Democrat like Bob Mann. And yes, Bob Mann knows that, because he was working in Democrat politics just across the Sabine River at the time.

They’ve heard a leading GOP member of the U.S. House, Don Young of Alaska, blithely refer to migrant workers as “wetbacks.”

As you can tell, Mann is running out of material here.

They also heard Mitt Romney’s 47 percent remarks.

The list goes on.

Sure it does. That the final two “examples” in Mann’s diarrhea-of-the-brain expose’ of Republican “racism” accounting for poor electoral performance among blacks don’t actually involve (1) black people or (2) any racial minority wouldn’t serve as evidence that Mann can’t think of anything else to support his position at all, right?

What to do when you run out of material to support the charge that the GOP and the conservative movement is a bunch of Klansmen in business suits? Why, the Southern Strategy of course. Hacks like Mann have been swinging away at that equine carcass for two generations. Thankfully, Rich Lowry did us the favor yesterday of dragging it off to the glue factory

Republicans began to win the South when it began to change. Republicans steadily gained strength there in the 1980s and 1990s at the same time that the region shed its racism. In fact, the party didn’t win more than half of congressional seats in the South until 1994, when Jim Crow was a distant memory and the Republican platform was the “Contract for America” that, needless to say, had nothing to do with race. In Alabama, the Republicans didn’t take over the state legislature for the first time since Reconstruction until 2010.

The Republicans are winning in a South that is diverse and attractive to immigrants; that honors civil rights; that is economically vibrant and features, in the likes of Houston, Charlotte, and Dallas-Ft. Worth, “the next wave of great American cities,” in the words of the urbanist Joel Kotkin; that is increasingly attractive to manufacturers.

In other words, they are winning in a South that exemplifies Lincoln’s life-long commitment to equality of opportunity and economic dynamism. In the grand sweep of the last century or so, this is the scorecard: the Democrats thrived in the South when it was backwards and bigoted relative to the rest of the country; the Republicans won it when it became vibrant and open. For this they are the party of Jefferson Davis?

And just a little more…

Political scientist Gerard Alexander has written persuasively in opposition to this charge. The Republicans made their first breakthrough in the South at the presidential level not in 1964, but in 1952. That’s when Dwight Eisenhower took states on the periphery of the South (Virginia, Florida, Tennessee, and Texas) and won over middle- and upper-income voters associated with the “New South.”

In 1964, Goldwater prevailed only in the states of the more racially polarized Deep South (and his native Arizona), but this was an exception that didn’t represent the pattern of the Republican growth in the region. Over the years, the party tended to overperform among transplants to the South and younger voters, both groups presumably with more tolerant racial views.

“In sum,” Alexander writes, “the GOP’s Southern electorate was not rural, nativist, less educated, afraid of change, or concentrated in the most stagnant parts of the Deep South. It was disproportionately suburban, middle-class, educated, younger, non-native-Southern, and concentrated in the growth-points that were, so to speak, the least ‘Southern’ parts of the South. This is a very strange way to reincarnate George Wallace’s movement.”

Mann finishes with the supreme flourish of equating Republican attempts to enact Voter ID laws, something that is not only overwhelmingly popular with the general public but as it happens is quite often supported by a clear majority of voters in the black community, as evidence of racism in the conservative movement. He alleges that it was Republican attempts to pass Voter ID which fired up black voters to turn out in big numbers and uses a laughable piece of Democrat propaganda as evidence without any empirical data to back that claim; Mitt Romney actually won a significant majority of the states which have strong Voter ID laws on the books last year, which would give the lie to his offerings on Voter ID.

And it apparently doesn’t bother him that equating reforms aimed at preserving the integrity of the ballot box with racism is evidence of his own paternalistic contempt for blacks. How offensive to suggest, as Mann does, that black people aren’t capable of obtaining a photo ID required to open a bank account, get on an airplane or even to enroll in programs like Medicaid or food stamps!

The fact is that those of us who have committed to engaging the black community in an effort to convince some portion of it to embrace conservative politics are finding it not only possible to make a difference but a little easier than we thought. With little in terms of fanfare or resources, we put on a very successful conference last month and in doing so we’ve already managed to set the stage for two relatively prominent conversions of black elected officials to the GOP in a fortnight. And there is more to come, not only in terms of party switches but an increase in black conservatives running for office and a much larger @large conference next year.

Roger Villere, the chairman of the Louisiana GOP who was on hand for @large and who helped make it happen, had a pretty good quote in response to Mann’s foolish piece…

“If Bob Mann is complaining, we must be doing something right. Last time I checked, he was not looking out for conservatives’ best interests. We will continue to spread the conservative message in every community.”

So Lord Bob will have to excuse us if from this vantage point his screed is the sad, desperate harangue of an inadequate has-been spin doctor. Thankfully for him he has his sinecure at LSU on the taxpayers’ dime and a Sunday column at a declining shambles of a newspaper, but for the rest of us it’s pretty clear Bob Mann has little of value to say on the issue of race, or anything else.

Bob Mann wasn’t at Ralph Washington’s announcement today. He was out to lunch somewhere else and missed it. Try not to be surprised.

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