Monday, May 24, 2010


Rock fans will recognize the title of this post -- it's a reversal of what Sam Phillips of Sun Records reportedly said before he discovered Elvis. Phillips was looking for a white singer who sang black. This year, the GOP and tea party movement are looking for black candidates who sound white and teabaggy -- there are 32 African-American candidates running for Congress this years as Republicans, many of them in tea mode.

Andrew Sullivan, appalled, posts an ad by one such candidate, Les Phillip of Alabama's Fifth District, who compares himself in the ad to Obama:


This is the story of two young men. One fell in with left wing radicals. The other immigrated to America. While one played with terrorists and allowed his America-hating pastor to baptize his children, the other joined the Navy to defend his country. I love America, but President Obama is ashamed of it. I'm going to Congress to help stop him from destroying our nation. And they’re not going to call me a racist. I'm Les Phillip and I took an oath to defend this country against enemies, foreign and domestic. And I approve this message.

I've been thinking that white Republicans want African-Americans to run only because they think it makes the party look better -- but I find myself wondering if it's more than that. I'm wondering if whites in the GOP are starting to look at electoral politics as some combination of sports, entertainment, and combat -- all areas in which whites have long been in the habit of watching blacks take the field.

We know that big-time sports (pro and especially college) frequently involves overwhelmingly white and well-heeled stadium crowds cheering on teams that include many blacks. We know whites of various ages like hip-hop and the blues and jazz and the vicarious feeling of bad-assitude they get from these styles of music. We know that well-off whites, however much they may wave the flag, expect inner-city non-whites (as well as poor rural whites) to actually fight our wars.

I start to wonder if the increased interest in having black candidates in the GOP is appealing to a similar mindset. Need somebody to be go head-to-head with an antagonist? Get a black guy -- that's what they're there for, right?

(Phillip, by the way, won a straw poll in his district recently, barely beating out a white challenger. A third candidate -- Parker Griffin, who switched from the Democratic Party late last year --finished a distant third.)

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