Writer, Havard professor Laurence Bobo recently penned an article for The Root wondering why Republicans were sitting on their hands in regards to former presidential candidate Alan Keyes' latest inflammatory words about President Barack Obama.
In "The GOP's Nutty Negro" Bobo opines:
The absence of Republican voices denouncing the irresponsible remarks is as disconcerting as Keyes’ crazy rant. Where are the voices of responsible Republican leadership disassociating the party from such poisonous accusations? The silence is telling.
There is a viciously insidious strain of racism just beneath the surface of these vile allegations about President Obama’s citizenship that bears focusing on, even if the initial impulse is to dismiss them as the ravings of a nut job. It is little surprise that Alabama Republican Sen. Richard Shelby would be among those helping to stoke such insipid rumblings, or that former Republican Party chair and Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour would be among those suggesting that his state might not accept stimulus-package funds. Recall that over 90 percent of white voters in Alabama voted against Obama.
Bobo makes a good point, but there's only one quibble I have.
Keyes, despite being a prominent black conservative, isn't a Republican. Hell, I would argue that a lot of Republicans would cross the street if they saw Keyes trotting down it.
While he was still calling himself a Republican as recently as early 2008, one could argue Keyes checked out the mainstream Republican Party not long after his carpet bagging experience in Illinois when the Illinois Republicans set him up as a comic foil to crash and burn against then senate candidate Barack Obama.
One could argue Keyes is just as frustrated with the Republicans as they are with him. He is to the far, far right of even the most ardent of righties (his biggest fan is nihilist, performance shock artist and "comedian"Ann Coulter). Keyes has repeatedly been unsuccessful at gaining any respect or success within the party since his heyday as an ambassador to the Economic and Social Council of the United Nations under the Reagan Administration. He also once served as Assistant Secretary of State for International Organization Affairs from 1985 to 1987.
Since then, it's been a whole lotta fighting. From getting banned from presidential debates, to being used until they couldn't use him anymore, Keyes left the Republican Party last year a bitter, jaded man. He has since bounced around, flirting with multiple third parties, including the Constitutional Party (which also kicked him to the curb) and is currently affiliated with the America's Independent Party.
He is a marginal figure in the conservative movement, at best, and I think most Republicans washed their hands of him after his failure to even put a dent in Obama in 2004.
While he was once a Republican, as an rogue conservative, he seriously isn't beholding to anyone but himself and no one, not even the most right of the right is responsible for Keyes. His statements are largely mocked. He has little credibility in the mainstream. He is on his own.
It's more disturbing in the quasi-silence over Alabama Sen. Richard Shelby who is currently in office, has power and who's words carry more weight. Since the news broke on his "doubting Thomas" routine over Obama's citizenship, he has since back-peddled. Claiming his words were misinterpreted to misquoted. And by and large, the RNC wants little to do with the meme. Sen. John McCain wouldn't touch it during his presidential run., still scarred by "illegitimate black baby PTSD." Many party members are fine if some rogues want to do the dirty work, but I doubt Michael Steele is going to work "PROVE YOU'RE AN AMERICAN, MR. PRESIDENT!" into the party's talking points.
You know? Unless he wants to get laughed out of D.C. And he doesn't.
Keyes is his own man. He speaks for Keyes and Keyes alone. While his words are hateful, hurtful and can be interpreted as unpatriotic and insensitive, he has the right to spout all the nutbar rhetoric his heart desires. But he can only spout it on his and his latest fringe right-wing party's behalf.
Keyes isn't in office. Can't even get on a mainstream news program. He is truly a man operating outside of the system using the internet and ardent supporters to get his message out there. Keyes doesn't have power.
The only real concern is that his hateful rants could influence those who do have some cache, like sitting US Senators. But those are the individuals who need the chin checking by the party bigwigs.
It's pointless to try to reign in the rantings of a mad, mad man.