THE BLOG

"That Boy's Finger Does Not Need to Be on the Button"

04/15/2008 07:06 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

While the putatively "liberal" media hyperventilate about a few words Barack Obama uttered in San Francisco last Sunday, lost in the din were the remarks at a fundraising dinner for Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell of Kentucky and his compatriot Representative Geoff Davis who represents the good people of Northern Kentucky. Senator McConnell called Obama "incredibly naive" and Representative Davis called him a "snake oil salesman." But the truly offensive and, yes, "elitist," statement came from Davis when he said: "I'm going to tell you something. That boy's finger does not need to be on the button."

The good news is that Davis's campaign manager, immediately recognizing the racist nature of his boss's words, delivered an unambiguous apology to Obama's Senate office. The bad news is that the reconstituted Solid South under one-party Republican rule has not shaken its old Jim Crow roots.

This incident demonstrates why Obama is a powerful candidate for the general election. I mean, when was the last time you heard a Republican "apologize" for anything that comes out of his or her mouth? The GOP's Southern wing must be careful to silence its instinctive racism. Karl Rove's voter suppression tactics targeting African Americans are well documented. Remember John McCain's "black baby?" How about the "hands" political ad for Jesse Helms or the Willie Horton ad for Bush the Elder? Allen Raymond, the turncoat Republican operative, spilled the beans on the racist tactics the GOP is now expert at deploying.

And what about the high-flying Republican governor of Mississippi Haley Barbour? He's a former chair of the Republican National Committee, and he is always yucking it up with the Council of Conservative Citizens. The C of CC is the reconstituted "White Citizens Councils" of yesteryear during the era of racial segregation, and guess what, they're all Republicans. George W. Bush campaigned for Barbour in 2003 even though the C of CC had splashed photos of Barbour attending one of their barbeques all over its web site.

I guarantee you that if Obama is the Democratic Party's nominee the C of CC types inside the Republican Party are going to be difficult to muzzle because the thought of a black man with his "finger on the button" is just too much for them to bear. Congressman Geoff Davis just exposed the tip of the iceberg.