Monday, November 24, 2008

RNC candidate in racially exclusive club? --I'm shocked

Recall, the collaborationist French head of the local police, Captain Renault in "Casablanca," with his disingenuous "I'm shocked, shocked to find that gambling is going on in here"?
My sarcastic shock arrives to this case of Katon Dawson, a candidate for the Republican National Committee. Talking Points Memo reports that he has an unsavory past, particularly, membership in a whites-only country club. As the author, Greg Sargent notes, this kind of information does nothing to dispel the association of the GOP with insensitive, small-minded racism of the past, rather than a modern expansive posture, welcoming people of diverse backgrounds.
Now here's a good way for the GOP to make the case that it hasn't been reduced to a southern regional rump party that's held hostage by intolerant crackpots: Elect as the new chairman of the Republican National Committee a southerner who just resigned a longtime membership in a whites-only country club.

Katon Dawson, the South Carolina GOP chairman, announced his candidacy for RNC chair yesterday.

And guess what: Back in September, when Dawson was first quietly laying the groundwork for his RNC run, The State newspaper [of Columbia, South Carolina] reported that he resigned his membership in the nearly 80-year-old Forest Lake Club. Members told the newspaper at the time that the club's deed has a whites-only restriction and has no black members.

Dawson claimed to the paper that he'd actually been working since August to change the club's admission practices after reading about them in the press. Nonetheless, his membership could become an issue in the RNC chair race.

After all, the paper says he was a member for 12 years, so it seems like a pretty fair question to ask whether he started working to change the club's rules this summer, and then resigned, in preparation for his RNC chair candidacy.

That seems like a particularly relevant question when you recall that the case some GOPers made against Obama over his ties to Reverend Wright was that his supposed silence in the face of Wright's rantings should raise questions about Obama's patriotism.

What's more, The State said that Dawson resigned the club after it became known that the paper was getting ready to report his membership.

Either way, it's hard to see how it sends a winning message for the GOP to pick as its chief strategist and public face someone who was a member of a club where the first African American president in history apparently need not apply. Ah, those good old Repubs.

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