The other day, I ruminated here about how there were no Republican former presidents -- or even former GOP presidential candidates -- at the tribute honoring the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King's "I have a dream..." speech. I wondered whether there were any high-ranking Republican officials there.
It turns out that there weren't. But the story is worse. Because it turns out that pretty much every Republican official in Washington -- and most major ones elsewhere -- were invited. And none showed up. Zero.
Let's repeat that number, since "zero" is easy to slip by. It was -- zero.
Speaker of the House John Boehner (R-OH) was invited, but didn't attend. He was in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, giving a -- well, no, he didn't have any public speeches that day, though he'd been doing fundraising, so perhaps he was occupied with that. House Minority Leader Eric Cantor (R-VA) was invited, too, but he didn't attend either, though he had an excuse -- he was in North Dakota, meeting with oil lobbyists. The last two standard-bearers of the Republican Party, Mitt Romney and John McCain, weren't there either.
In fact, all 233 Republicans in the House of Representatives were invited. So were all 46 Republican U.S. Senators. And every one of the 30 Republican governors. And not a single one of them found it worth their time to help commemorate what is widely considered one of the great civil rights events and one of the great speeches, period, in United States history.
So much for Republicans showing their support for minorities. So much for that whole "outreach thing" that the Republicans acknowledged in their Growth and Opportunity Project report that the Party had to do.
And how did Fox News cover their total absence? How do you think? With total, outraged inaccuracy.
On his show, the ever-angry Bill O'Reilly cried pointedly and emphatically and All Knowingly to his ever-believing viewers that " "No Republican or conservative was invited."
Except for the 281+ who were.
And now you understand why a study by Fairleigh Dickinson University's PublicMind Poll showed here that "People who watch No news know more than Fox viewers"
(By the way, this raises the question. If Bill O'Reilly and the various far right news media around the country were so outraged that Republicans supposedly hadn't been invited to the March on Washington commemoration -- will these same conservatives media now be equally outraged AT all the Republicans who didn't attend?? By sheer, rational logic, you'd sure think so. And by sheer understanding of recent reality that there is no depth to which far right hypocrisy won't sink, you'd sure know that's not likely to happen. "We just vociferously demanded (!) they should be invited. We never for a moment thought they should ever actually attend...)
Forget the horrible message this shows to minorities -- and to majorities, for that matter -- about what the Republican Party feels about civil rights, human rights, and the downtrodden and needy. Forget how this shows the galling hypocrisy of that Growth and Opportunity Project the Republican Party put together. (The report was beautifully typed and packaged, at least.)
Forget all that. Just purely on a human level, on an American level, it is reprehensible that not a single ranking Republican official out of 281+ invited showed up to honor the 50th anniversary of perhaps the most iconic moment in the struggle for civil rights this nation has seen. The Democrats showed up -- three presidents and numerous lawmakers. But zero on the Republican side of the aisle.
If any number could encapsulate the Republican Party's support of those in need, you have it right there. And this isn't about just some racist sense of ignoring black people or Hispanics or whatever minority might be uncomfortable or inconvenient. But that 50th anniversary event was about sort of the core concept of this nation. You know, the American Dream. The whole "Give me, your tired, your poor. The huddled masses yearning to breathe free" thingee on the Statue of Liberty. And the other Dream -- the "I have a ..." one.
Not one Republican official showed up. That's intentional. That's planned. That's sending a message. That's, "Let's go out of our way to ignore honoring civil rights."
And that's the Republican dream. Welcome to their nightmare.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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