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You wouldn't think calling for the removal of the Confederate flag from the grounds of South Carolina's state capitol would be a difficult thing to do, especially for those who believe they are bold and brave enough to be this nation's next president. We're not in the habit of honoring our enemies by flying their flags or building memorials to their fallen, after all, so it stands to reason that state-sanctioned deference to the traitors who declared war on the United States would be easily recognized as, well, un-American.


Hell, even Mitt Romney -- the guy who has never met an issue he hasn't tried to hedge his way around, only to flip-flop on it later -- knows that:

And it didn't take the murder of nine African Americans in their church last Wednesday for Romney to recognize the blatant immorality of flying the Confederate flag. He's been calling for its removal since the first time he ran for president in 2008. It is, perhaps, the one and only consistent position he's ever held.

So how is the current crop of Republican presidential candidates demonstrating their brave moral leadership? If Romney can express a clear message on South Carolina's still-flying Confederate flag, then certainly the moral scolds running in this election must have even more to say. Let us marvel at the moral clarity and courage of the Republican Party's contenders for leader of the free world.

From Coward To Really Big Coward

Jeb! Bush:

My position on how to address the Confederate flag is clear. In Florida, we acted, moving the flag from the state grounds to a museum where it belonged. This is obviously a very sensitive time in South Carolina and our prayers are with the families, the AME church community and the entire state. Following a period of mourning, there will rightly be a discussion among leaders in the state about how South Carolina should move forward and I'm confident they will do the right thing.

Did you miss the part where Jeb! actually says what the right thing is? Yeah, that's because he didn't. He's certainly no Romney. Still, it's the clearest message from the presidential candidates that it might be a good idea for South Carolina to remove the flag, so congratulations, Jeb, you are the least cowardly of all the Republican cowards. Molotov!

John Kasich:

The Republican governor of Ohio hasn't officially announced he's running yet, but obviously he's thinking seriously enough about it that he doesn't want to offend the states' rights sensibilities of South Carolina, just in case.

Carly Fiorina:

"I think it's clearly a symbol that is very offensive to many, but my personal opinion is not what's relevant here," she told reporters at the Faith and Freedom Coalition's "Road to Majority" conference in D.C. "What's relevant here is what the people of South Carolina choose to do next."

Fiorina later said she "personally" agrees with Mitt Romney that South Carolina should take down its flag, except -- in the very same sentence -- she added, "I think it is up to the people of South Carolina, however." So her personal opinion is that South Carolina clearly must remove its flag, but, like, only if it wants to. She also personally believes she did a kick-ass job running Hewlett-Packard, and that's why she should be president, even though she was told by the board of directors to get the hell out, after nearly destroying the company. Her personal beliefs don't count for much.

Marco Rubio:

Q: Should South Carolina move its rebel flag from the state Capitol grounds?

Rubio: What's important to remember, because this is coming in the aftermath of a horrible tragedy, is you have one individual with hate in his heart, who carried out an act motivated by racial hatred. And it's an atrocity. It's a horrifying instance. What I do think is important to remember is that the people of South Carolina have dealt with this issue before. They have found a bipartisan consensus over a decade ago on moving that flag to a new location. And I have confidence in their ability to deal with that issue again. I think it's important to let the people of South Carolina move forward on it. They've shown an incredible ability to respond to these issues in the past -- as they've responded to recent events, not just this tragic murder that occurred but also the murder of a civilian by a police officer just a few months ago. And those communities were able to come together and deal with it. I've been very impressed with the leadership of the state and the capacity of people to come together to take collective action. So this is an issue that they should debate and work through and not have a bunch of outsiders going and telling them what to do about it.

Q: Agree or disagree with Romney that they should take it down?

Rubio: In Florida it's not up to our -- it was moved to a museum. I support that decision. And I think ultimately the people of South Carolina will make the right decision for South Carolina. And I believe in their capacity to make that decision. The next president of the United States will not make that decision. That's up to the people of South Carolina to make. And I think they'll make the right one like they've made them in the past.

Q: So you think the right decision is to take the flag down or moved to a new location?

Rubio: The state of South Carolina has dealt with this issue in the past, they've done so in a way that brought people together. The current location was the result of a bipartisan agreement that that state came to over 15-20 years ago. And in fact, if they take up that issue now, I'm very confident that they're going to make the right choice for the people of South Carolina in a way that all of their people are comfortable with. They've shown a capacity to do that in the past.

So basically, what Jeb! said. But with a lot more awkward hemming and hawing. Oh, but fun fact:

Rubio said he now supports Bush's decision to remove the Confederate flag from the Florida capitol and place it in a museum. But as a state legislator, Rubio co-sponsored a war monuments preservation bill that would have preserved the Confederate flag's placement on Capitol grounds.

So, huh. If Rubio was cool with letting the Confederate flag fly in Florida, does he think that's the right decision for South Carolina too? Or maybe we're supposed to give him credit for his evolution, not that he believes there is such a thing.

Rick Perry:

“I think a governor’s job should be one to bring people together, not to divide them, and I think the Confederate battle flag is clearly one of those that divides people,” Perry said Saturday in an interview with RealClearPolitics. [...]

“I think it’s up to the people of South Carolina.” But he made a point of adding: “The people of the state of Texas, we dealt with those issues.”

Yeah, Texas has even refused to issue license plates with the Confederate flag on them. Thanks to the former governor, Texas is a real model of racial transcendence.

Rick Santorum:

Q: Do you not have a position on this at all?

Santorum: I’m not a South Carolinian. And I think this is a decision --

Q: It’s beyond South Carolina, don’t you think?

Santorum: I would say that these are decisions that should be made by people. I don’t think the federal government or federal candidates should be making decisions on everything, and opining on everything. This is a decision that needs to be made here in South Carolina.

Last we'd heard, Santorum wasn't a Hoosier either, but that didn't prevent him from opining on Indiana's Religious Freedom Restoration Act, to protect bigoted business owners who invoke their "religious beliefs" to discriminate against homosexuals and whores. Guess this is different ... somehow.

Ted Cruz:

“I understand the passions that this debate evokes on both sides,” the GOP presidential hopeful said. “Both those who see a history of racial oppression and a history of slavery, which is the original sin of our nation, and we fought a bloody civil war to expunge that sin.”

He added: “But I also understand those who want to remember the sacrifices of their ancestors and the traditions of their states, not the racial oppression, but the historical traditions, and I think often this issue is used as a wedge to try to divide people.”

Oh yeah, wouldn't want to turn the nation's most recognizable symbol of slavery into a wedge issue. But certainly Ted Cruz -- who's always running around calling his fellow Republicans a bunch of pussies for not standing up and speaking out for their causes, and also, like Santorum, had had plenty of opinions on Indiana -- must have a clear and concise position on South Carolina's flag:

“I think that’s a question for South Carolina, and the last thing they need is people from outside the state coming in and dictating how they should resolve that issue,” Cruz said.

Or not.

Lindsey Graham:

“That compromise was widely accepted,” said Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina. “But in light of what has happened, that has to be revisited because the shooter is so associated with the flag.”

Mr. Graham, himself a presidential hopeful, said of his state’s leaders: “This is something we need to deal with and we will. Give us a chance to come together and deal with this in a responsible way.”

This is actually progress for Graham, who spoke last week of the "compromise" -- to let white people have their flag, and black people have their own memorial too -- and insisted that it worked just fine for South Carolina. Guess maybe it should at least be revisited, considering that in addition to being associated with traitors declaring war on the United States to maintain their racist economic system of slavery, it's now also associated with Dylann Roof, who murdered nine African Americans in their church.

Bobby Jindal:

"Look, we'll let the states decide that. But again, just like with the gun issue, let's have that debate at the right time. I mean, right now, we should all be in mourning," Jindal said in a brief interview.

Ah, so while the governor of Louisiana has no opinion at all about the Confederate flag, and certainly not what South Carolina does with it, because that's not his business, he knows we shouldn't even be talking about it right now. We'll update you as soon as we get the memo from him about the appropriate time for that conversation, which, as is always the case with Republicans, later. Meanwhile, the victims' families can continue to grieve under the flag that is now also a cruel reminder of the man who killed their loved ones.

Scott Walker:

"I think they're going to have a good healthy debate and should have that debate in South Carolina amongst officials at the state level," Walker told reporters after his dinner speech at the "Road to Majority" conference.

"I just think before I or anyone else weighs in on anything to do with policy, whether it's this or any other policy decisions, we should honor the dead and the families by allowing them to bury their loved ones. And then you could perfectly ask me that question at some point in the next week or two when that's done."

Walker also deferred when asked by a reporter if he viewed the Confederate flag as a symbol of racism.

Wisconsin's governor is one tough guy. He can stand up to those evil union thugs who are just like ISIS, but when it comes to standing up to the racists who insist upon state-sanctioned honoring of their "heritage"? Well, that's not Walker's problem, so he'll be over here, once again refusing to have an opinion.

Ben Carson:

"The Confederate flag causes a lot of people angst and they are not able to see beyond that," Carson said on Fox News. "I think the people of South Carolina should sit down and have an intelligent discussion about what can they use that captures their heritage, captures the heritage of America and allows them to coexist in peace."

Is Carson suggesting that the people who want the flag taken down are incapable of seeing past their "angst"? Like, the angst of what the flag represents? The angst of a horrific act of terrorism? Give them time to mourn, and then maybe they can see more clearly? Good plan. Carson also said that the flag, while "inflammatory," has nothing to do with any future tragedies. How does he know that? How can he be certain the next Dylann Roof isn't out there, encouraged to see that there's still plenty of resistance in the South? Guess we'll just have to take his word for it.

Mike Huckabee:

“I don’t think [the American people] want us to weigh in on every little issue in all 50 states that might be an important issue to the people of that state but not on the desk of the president,” Huckabee said.

Sure, Americans might want to know a presidential candidate's every critique of Beyonce's work, but something as insignificant as the number one topic of discussion in America right now, following a heinous hate crime that left nine dead? Nahhh. Except maybe for this:

“The question underlying all of this is, that we’re asking, is South Carolina a racist state because of the flag that flies on their capitol grounds?” he said. [...]

“I don’t think you could say that the presence of one lunatic racist, who everybody in this country feels contempt for, and no one is defending, is somehow evidence of the people of South Carolina,” Huckabee said.

As to that question, Huckabee's pretty sure South Carolina is not a racist state, because it was just that one guy who did that one thing. And sure, he did so in the name of the exact same principles the Confederate flag represents, but what's that got to do with it?

George Pataki:

Former New York Gov. George Pataki, who launched his campaign last month, called the flag placement "a decision for the people of South Carolina."

It's hard to understand why the RINO former governor of New York is afraid to outright agree with Mitt Romney that the flag should be taken down. What does he have to lose? Nobody in South Carolina is going to vote for him anyway.

Chris Christie:

The loud-mouthed New Jersey governor who is so proud of offending people all of a sudden doesn't have a whole lot to say, let alone scream in people's faces. How very unlike him.

Rand Paul:

A spokesman for Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.) said he had no comment.

That's probably a first.

Donald Trump:

"________________"

That's definitely a first. Donald Trump has had nothing to say about the Confederate flag in South Carolina, but maybe that's only because no journalist takes him seriously enough to bother asking.

And there you have it, America, your profiles in Republican courage, from coward to YOOOOOOGE coward. Maybe the party really should ask Mitt Romney to run again. Turns out he's the most courageous and moral leader of the gang after all.

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