Notes on the Atrocities
Like a 100-watt radio station, broadcasting to the dozens...

Monday, August 11, 2003  

This was a clever move. The Texas Dems (now Cheneying in Albuquerque) wrote to President Bush and asked for him to intervene in the state's redistricting battle. Knowing that he's a buck-passer, they knew they'd have a chance to accuse him of dirty partisan politics if he did anything but support them.

In their letter to Bush, the 11 Democratic senators said the GOP redistricting plan "smacks of blatant racism by Republican leaders" because of its likely impact on minority voters. Democrats charge that the plan would dilute the votes of about 1.4 million black and Hispanic voters by "packing" them into a handful of congressional districts. "Clearly you recognize the increasing significance of the Hispanic and African American vote in national elections because you sought our help in Texas," the senators said. "Early on, you vowed to unite, not divide. Today your Texas successors threaten to divide us as never before in our state's history. This flies in the face of your national Latino outreach programs. With all due respect, Mr. President, you cannot have it both ways...."

"Your continued silence [on the Texas dispute] is being interpreted by thoughtful Americans as complicity or as tacit approval," the senators wrote on special stationery bearing the title "The Texas 11."

Of course it worked: the President was forced to play the "ain't-my-bidnez" card.

A White House spokesman said in reply yesterday: "While the president always maintains an interest in Texas, he currently is concentrating on governing all of America." When White House spokesman Scott McClellan was asked about the dispute last Monday, he called it "a matter that the state of Texas is addressing."

But in fact, with the House Majority Leader and federal agencies directly involved, the President can't really call it a Texas issue. His own party has made it a national issue. Demanding the President get involved sheds some light on Republican tactics and keeps the heat on. In California, piqued Republicans used the recall technique to accomplish what they could not do through the ballot box. (It takes 51% of Californians to elect a Governor, but it only takes 2.3% to demand a recall--and then possibly as little as 25% to elect a Republican.) Republicans in the House recently called the cops on their Democratic colleagues because the Dems were unruly--that is to say, not dancing to the right goose step. This is not a party particularly charmed by the virtue of democratic process.

Oh, and let's not forget that the President himself was elected by a margin of just a single vote--when a different group of Republicans decided they liked him better than Al Gore.

posted by Jeff | 8:42 AM |
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