- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 21, 2010

Racist truck codes

MSNBC “Countdown” host Keith Olbermann is known for his over-the-top, invective rants against the Republican Party, so it wasn’t that shocking when he called Senator-elect Scott Brown a “homophobic, racist, teabagging” Republican.

What was surprising, however, is that Howard Fineman, senior editor of Newsweek, was so sympathetic to Mr. Olbermann’s accusations of racism.

The reason was even stranger. Mr. Fineman, a frequent MSNBC political analyst, said Mr. Brown’s truck could have been part of a racist code to Massachusetts voters.

Mr. Olbermann proposed Mr. Brown’s win was part of racist backlash against the black President Obama on his Tuesday evening program. Gamely, Mr. Fineman offered some supporting evidence.

“In some places, there are codes, there are images,” he told Mr. Olbermann. “You know, there are pickup trucks, you could say there was a racial aspect to it one way or another.”

Mr. Brown’s truck has particularly bothered Democrats, ranging from Mr. Brown’s opponent, Attorney General Martha Coakley, to Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to Mr. Obama.

All three of them belittled it in separate, consecutive remarks at a Sunday rally organized to increase Democratic turnout for Tuesday’s special election, although none of them indicated it was racist like Mr. Fineman.


Talking Tark

Republican Danny Tarkanian is quick to label opponent Sue Lowden as the “establishment candidate” and “party cheerleader” in the GOP primary for Nevada’s 2010 Senate election against Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, a Democrat.

Polls show Mr. Tarkanian and Mrs. Lowden would have a good shot at knocking off the powerful Democrat in November and Mr. Tarkanian considers himself to be more of an insurgent, conservative candidate because of his opposition to bailouts and earmarks.

“We need to eliminate all pork,” he told a handful of writers at a meeting in downtown Washington on Tuesday afternoon. “I will not take earmarks, you have to lead by example.”

Mr. Tarkanian has jumped on an interview Mrs. Lowden granted to the Nevada Appeal in which she said it would be “easy” to say she would have voted against bank bailouts “but I can’t do that.”

In Mr. Tarkanian’s eyes, this is proof Mrs. Lowden is a “go along to get along” candidate, as his campaign aides have described her. He said on Tuesday he hopes to make these remarks a central issue in his primary campaign.

He also took a tough stance on terrorism. When asked by The Washington Times if he supported enhanced interrogation techniques, such as waterboarding, Mr. Tarkanian firmly said, “I would be in favor of that.”

In the case of an imminent threat, “we should do what we can to get that information,” he said.

Withdrawn

The man President Obama appointed to lead the Transportation Security Administration withdrew his name on Wednesday, a day after a 2008 video surfaced of him comparing the war on terror to global warming.

Errol Southers’ nomination was stalled by Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican, who put a hold on it citing concerns Mr. Southers would give TSA collective bargaining rights. While the nomination was being held, it was also discovered that Mr. Southers gave misleading statements to Congress about a federal security database he twice accessed for personal reasons.

Another blow, however, was delivered to Mr. Southers when the conservative-leaning CNSNews.com posted a 2008 video interview that he had granted to Videojug.com, an information-sharing video Web site.

Mr. Southers was asked in the interview, “How high should the war on terror be on our list of national priorities?”

He replied, “It should be high on our list of priorities because of, speaking globally, the threat that exists.” But Mr. Southers added later, “I do think, however, it deserves to perhaps have some parity with global warming, with education, with the economy.”

That statement, and others in the video, surely would have become part of the debate over his nomination, but Mr. Southers withdrew it on Wednesday morning.

In a statement, he said his path to the job had been “obstructed by political ideology” and “the partisan climate is unacceptable.”

Amanda Carpenter can be reached at acarpenter@washingtontimes.com.