Friday, December 05, 2008

Indian Republican or Republican Indian? Slurpees or Casinos?

Savvy flaks in the Party of Lincoln are perpetually mindful of their historic paucity of even passably plausible minority public faces.  And, in the midst of the GOP’s post-drubbing soul searching, former Maryland Lt. Gov. – and famously failed Senate nominee – Michael Steele has stepped forward, offering himself as a reform-minded candidate of color for RNC chairman, differentiating himself from the white guys in suits/Republican Regular types who usually vie for the post. 

However, after the smoke cleared from the recent round of internecine squabbling among what’s left of the congressional Republican rump before the 111th Congress convenes, one more of those public faces has fallen by the wayside. 

Only those who follow this sort of insider skullduggery took note that when Rep. Tom Cole (Okla.) withdrew in the face of a seemingly overwhelming challenge to topple him from the head of NRCC, the House GOP campaign arm, Republican leadership lost it’s only American Indian.  Critics hounded Cole as the GOP lost previously safe seats in special elections - including shockers in rural Mississippi and fmr. Speaker Denny Hastert’s in once-rockribbed Republican Illinois – and blamed him for failing to stanch House GOP losses in November.  Tension lingered between Cole and House Minority Leader Boehner.  So, Cole’s distinctive ancestry (at least in these circles) seemed to be the last thing on Members’ minds.  

Much more attention has been lavished on Lousiana Gov. Bobby Jindal.  The Subcontinental Indian descended chief executive of a state that nearly elected a former Grand Wizard as recently as the 1990’s, is repeatedly dubbed a "GOP rising star" in the press. 

With Cole on the way out and the Jindal on the way up, it’s hard to escape hearing Lisa Lampanelli, the “Queen of Mean,” bark out her witty update on the old stereotype, “dot or feathers,” in 2005’s dirty joke biopic, “the Aristocrats.”  The GOP’s new direction?  “Slurpees not Casinos!”       

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