How Long Will Tim Scott Have To Remind GOP To *Try* Not To Be Racist? Oh, Just Forever
It's tough being the Senate's sole black Republican. You don't get to eat lunch and trade mix tapes with Kamala Harris and Cory Booker. You have to sit at the dork table with Lindsey Graham and Cindy Hyde-Smith. That's the plight of South Carolina's Tim Scott. He normally takes it all in stride, but maybe he's finally had enough.
Scott recently killed the nomination of Thomas Farr to the federal bench. Farr used to work for North Carolina Senator Jesse Helms, which is frankly disqualifying in itself, but Scott specifically opposed Farr because of his involvement in "ballot security" activities for Helms's 1984 and 1990 campaigns. The reason "ballot security" appears in quotes here is because it was actually a scurrilous attempt to suppress the black vote through intimidation and deceit.
"I am ready and willing to support strong candidates for our judicial vacancies that do not have lingering concerns about issues that could affect their decision-making process as a federal judge," Scott said in his statement. This seems reasonable advice for what it would take to gain Scott's consent. But it's not good enough for Bill Zuppinger from Greenville, SC. He slammed Scott's decision in a letter to the editor published in Saturday's Greenville News.
I've lost respect for Sen. Tim Scott because of his decision to align himself with progressive Arizona Sen. Jeff Flake to temporarily stop the appointment of Justice Thomas Farr as a federal judge.
In siding with Flake, Scott has taken the side of the grandstanding senator whose mantra is "Stop Trump."
We elected our senator to support the Republican agenda, not stand in its way. By agreeing with Sens. Flake and Schumer, he has done a disservice to the Republicans of South Carolina.
I know this is probably what Rush Limbaugh claims happened, but believe it or not there are a few inaccuracies here. As much as I admire
Jeff Flake's hair, I can't agree that he's in any way a "progressive." He voted with Donald Trump 84 percent of the time. That hardly makes him an ideological peer of Chuck Schumer, whose "Trump score" is just 25 percent. (Flake is currently boycotting Trump's judicial nominees until the Senate votes to prevent Trump from firing Robert Mueller.)
So, Zuppinger has "lost respect" for Scott because the senator has too much self-respect to vote for racists. If only he'd tap dance and sing "Mississippi Mud" while casting his "yes" vote for Farr, he could still be one of the "good ones." The Wall Street Journal took issue with Scott as well. In an editorial called "Democrats and Racial Division," the WSJ blamed Democrats for racial division (the title wasn't misleading). The editorial argued that Democrats "play the race card" every chance they get because it "often works" and the poor misguided negro, Scott, fell for their "underhanded and inflammatory racial tactics." Just to clarify, all the Democrats did here was point out Farr's underhanded and inflammatory racial history.
Scott fired back in a letter to the WSJ published last week. He said it "saddened" him that the WSJ editorial deflected his concern about Farr's nomination. Rather than decry "racial attacks," Republicans should just stop bringing candidates with "questionable track records on race" before the full Senate for a vote. Every Joe Schmo doesn't have some Constitutional right, despite their shady past, to a seat on the federal bench. This isn't the Supreme Court.
"We are not doing a very good job of avoiding the obvious potholes on race in America and we ought to be more sensitive when it comes to those issues."
The "we" here mostly comprises black Republicans like Scott, and because there are no other black Republicans, it's just Scott.
Scott also had to be the one to deny Ryan Bounds a seat on the Ninth US Circuit Court of Appeals. Why is he sole the racial conscience of the GOP? His Jiminy Cricket act will prove more difficult next year, when the Republican majority grows. It's possible that Trump, who's an ass that way, will just renominate Farr, who could then squeak through. The modern-day GOP loves driving straight through obvious racial potholes.
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Stephen Robinson is a writer and social kibbitzer based in Portland, Oregon. He writes reviews for the A.V. Club and make believe for Cafe Nordo, an immersive theatre space in Seattle. He's also on the board of the Portland Playhouse theatre. His son describes him as a “play typer guy."