The Great White “Republican” Hope?

Don’t you just hate it when you say something you really mean, but then it comes out kinds of funky and everyone looks at you and points, then screams “bigot!” That’s what kind of day Kansas Rep. Lynn Jenkins was having. In yet another episode of “When Keepin’ It Real Goes Wrong,” Jenkins made the faux pas of saying that the Republicans “are struggling right now to find the great white hope. I suggest to any of you who are concerned about that, who are Republican, there are some great young Republican minds in Washington.”

She then went on to name some potentials she liked, all white of course. Oopsie daisy! Bring on the “See? What I had meant was” in 1 … 2 … 3 …

More after the jump.

From The Topeka Capitol-Journal:

Mary Geiger, a spokeswoman for Jenkins, said the reference to a great white hope wasn’t meant to denote a preference by Jenkins for politicians of a particular “race, creed or any background.” Jenkins was expressing faith fellow GOP representatives in the House would be key players in returning Republicans to a leadership role in Washington, Geiger said.

“There may be some misunderstanding there when she talked about the great white hope,” Geiger said. “What she meant by it is they have a bright future. They’re bright lights within the party.”

See? All good. We’re all good! The article is kind enough to educate those who don’t know about the history of the phrase “Great White Hope,” pointing out that it dates back to legendary black boxer Jack Johnson who dominated the sport to the point that white sportscasters bemoaned the need of a “great white hope” to take back the championship title. It’s also a marvelous film starring James Earl Jones (which he should have got an Oscar for) that makes me cry like a baby every time.

Of course, I wonder has anyone asked RNC Chairman Michael Steele what he thinks of this yet, you know? Because I enjoy listening to him find the silver lining in these situations rather than going with “no comment.” I’m predicting something bizarre rather than the rote “she was just misusing a common phrase to say something positive.” That would be too simple. Too not Michael Steele. I’m thinking, “Well, we ARE looking for the Great White Hope! And the great black hope! And the great purple hope! We Republicans will take any brand of non-Obama flavored Hope-Aid that we can get!”

32 thoughts on “The Great White “Republican” Hope?

  1. Maybe she misunderstood the phrase??? I find it really hard to believe any politician would say something this silly into a mic.

  2. Had to do a double take after reading this….Is it just me or does Rep. Lynn Jenkins look like a black woman?

  3. Sometimes we read too much in to what people say, and sometimes folks are showing their true colors. I think she falls in to that group that is racist, and is only surrounded by her own kind and thus never gets a reality check.I think she just got her reality check. She isn’t black – but Gerry Cooney may be her dad.

  4. I’ll track this one up to a simple poor choice of words. The fact that she went on to mention 3 white guys is merely coincidental. Seriously, what people of color in the GOP was she supposed to mention?Much ado. Nothing. Shake hands.

  5. I know all about the history of the phrase. Still, the racial overtones are too hard to ignore. The Republicans stepped into it again. BTW, I wouldn’t be surprised if she had some black blood in her family tree. Many whites have it and don’t realize it. That’s the irony.

  6. It’s an old expression and I’m sure if you asked most people, they wouldn’t know the derivation. How do people expect the US to get to a post racial society if some people always assume everything is always racial?

  7. I thought the origin of the "The Great White Hope" was a call for a white person to beat Black boxer Jack Johnson in the early 1900’ quote wikipedia"called out for a "Great White Hope" to take the title away from Johnson — who was crudely caricatured as a subhuman "ape" — and return it to where it supposedly belonged, with the "superior" white race." etymology of the phrase just reinforces what I inferred from her statement.

  8. The Great White "Republican" Hope?Yeah, that’s right … hell, that’s all they got LEFT at this point.The only "people" conservatives trust aren’t people, in the plural, but a person (singular): An older,white, rich, church-going, socially regressive, closeted bigot who’s a man.They are so out of touch with a majority of the American public at this moment, and will only keep getting more out of touch, because of the now-unavoidable demographic trends.If they don’t find a cross between Ronald Regan & Ayn Rand by this time next year he (cause it will have to be a man, or someone all the conservative men want to have sex with (e.g. Sarah Palin)), will be as pointless as Kerensky.

  9. How do people expect the US to get to a post racial society if some people always assume everything is always racial?Earth to Scott:Yes, just like everyone would have embraced the idea of any Black politician being considered the Great Black Hope. And whoever coined the ‘post-racial’ phrase should be flogged.

  10. the utopia that is "post racial" is a pipe dream. some white people will never admit that racism exists, and some people of color will think that there’s racism in every act. both are delusion. and will never go away.

  11. To be honest, as a life-long political observer and historian, I have to say that I have never seen a political party so dedicated to destroying itself. It seems as if the Republicans have their fingers in their ears yelling "NANANANA" and honestly believe that if they can just get white enough, male enough, straight enough, and "Christian" enough, they can somehow win a national election in a nation that is rapidly outgrowing their small minded bigotry. I say let the hate train jump the tracks. I prophesize a blatant "N Word" incident by the end of September.Love and HugsHomo

  12. @ HomoSuperior – I agree. It seems like they are doing all they can to antagonize anyone who isn’t white+Christian+straight+male+crazy. Can’t say I’m sorry to see it though.Definitely not a great choice of words on her part, but probably true for the GOP. I doubt they are looking for any "great non-white hope"

  13. @ ScottThat’s a shame, but I’m not sure how this sole incident equals the end of the dream of a post racial society, especially since the attainment of a "post-racial" America (whatever that means) is IMPOSSIBLE. I wish someone will just bury this stupid phrase and be done with it.

  14. the utopia that is "post racial" is a pipe dream. some white people will never admit that racism exists, and some people of color will think that there’s racism in every act. both are delusion. and will never go away.^^^cosign – one group is just as bad as the other. Not every thing is racial and crying the racial wolf does nothing but lend credence to those who deny that racism exists. Because I try to always give the benefit of doubt (I believed Marion Jones – I know gullable), I’d like to say that this woman was just ignorant about the phrase’s origination. I get so sick of this political double speak. Her PR team’s response/explaination was just plain irritating. "There may be some misunderstanding there…" Talk about a seriously passive statement. Who misunderstood, her or us? If you say something, own it. How about "Ms. Jenkins was unfamiliar with the origin of this phrase and regrets using it." Heck, be accountable, that’s how you earn respect.

  15. Yeah, I agree with what others have said about her appearance in this picture. I had to google her name to find other photos of her ’cause she looks like a Black woman in the above photo.

  16. Being an Iraq war vet, and a minority, to say that I would be oversensitive about one remark is ignorant and offensive. It has not just been one remark, but countless. People like Rush and Glenn Beck, who invoke the Constitution at whim, never really took time to truly understand the intent of that document. The 13th, the first paragraph of the 14th, the 15th and the 19th Amendments were all paid for in blood. That they selectively interpret the Constitution at their leisure, when their skewed political view requires it, is a slap in the face to me, and my brothers who fought to defend it. Yes, I say brothers, because when you are being shot at, lead and copper know no color. We are all the same. By their interpretations, what the 54th Regiment in the Civil War, the 100th Combat Team, the 442nd (with which my father fought), and the Code Talkers of WWII did was insignificant, or unimportant altogether. I would have hoped that we, as a people, could overcome this sort of thing. That statements like Rep. Jenkins’ are still being regurgitated in the 21st century just tells me that racism is STILL alive and apparently well. It makes me truly sad.

  17. While the GOP as a whole has some serious self-examination to do, I’m willing to give her a pass on this. Seems like she didn’t know or think about the origin of the phrase (and given that the word "white" connotes . Like someone else commented before, I wish her PR flack had said that instead of waffling because that would have been far more respectable.

  18. Now that you all have mentioned it, a White southerner told me once there are a LOT of Black families named Jenkins in the south and midwest, some of them pigment challenged-i don’t know how true that is, but whenever I have seen that name it’s been a Black person. It would be interesting if someone shook Lynn’s family tree to see what falls out.

  19. Meg, Though I agree with the first part of your statement, I would have liked it better if Rep. Jenkins would have made the apology in person. This sort of thing, I believe, requires it. To leave it up to aides, or others who do not share culpability for this ridiculous analogy, makes the second-hand reply disingenuous, at best. There is altogether too much of this kind of thing happening now for it to be something that can be passed over, and people like Glenn Beck, Bill O’Reilly (who should absolutely know better, considering the crap the Irish took just coming here) and Rush belittle folk like me as being "oversensitive". People have died because of statements like that. My brothers-in-arms were not racist in the slightest, and they were, to a man, all white! They, like me, judge a person on their integrity, not color, race, creed, religion, or any other distinction, large or small. They truly understood the intent of the Constitution.That this woman holds a congressional seat is evidence enough that racism lives, to the detriment of us all.

  20. Ms. Jenkins had recently signed a request to President Obama that Jack Johnson be officially pardoned for the legal crimes against him when he was heavy weight champion–about a month before her ‘great white hope comment.’ IMO, she meant what she said and and fully understood what she meant.

  21. Or y’all could just calm the frak down. Despite the origins of the phrase, despite the WORDS of the phrase, is it not possible to exercise some intelligence and divine the INTENT of her words? I’m not going to spell it out for you, since either you’re intelligent enough to understand or too ignorant to try. Either way, put your hypersensitivity on the shelf and just breathe. That’s right, in through the nose, out through the mouth. Isn’t that better?

  22. Historically speaking, John Jeffries was the great white hope against Jack Johnson on July 4, 1910. Jeffries was anihilated in the fight. Johnson didn’t just beat him up, but he took his time doing it. Which makes me ask? Are the Republicans realy looking for a "bright light" that will get the crap kicked out of him?

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