Michael Steele Charges Racism Over ‘Slavish’ Comment
I’ve gotten two emails this morning from the Republican National Committee’s eCampaign flacking the idea that Rep. Stenny Hoyer made racist remarks about Maryland Lieutenant Governor/U.S. Senate nominee Michael Steele.
Maryland Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele accused a leading Democratic congressman yesterday of racial insensitivity for saying the Republican candidate has “slavishly” followed the GOP.
Steele, an African American running for the U.S. Senate, was reacting to remarks by House Minority Whip Steny H. Hoyer, who characterized Steele this week as having had “a career of slavishly supporting the Republican Party.”
After speaking to members of the Maryland Chamber of Commerce gathered in Ocean City, Steele called the description “the height of arrogance.” “It goes to just the sheer craziness of some in the Democratic Party who think they can use racist terms and infer things about me just because I’m an African American Republican,” he said. Steele added that he expects his Democratic opponent, Benjamin L. Cardin, to “stand up and tell his team to sit down and shut up, stop the noise and apologize.”
Hoyer’s comments, first reported by MSNBC, came Sunday as he was introducing Cardin to a group of black business owners in Upper Marlboro, and his choice of words did not cause a visible reaction from the crowd. “There was absolutely no offense taken or noticed,” said event organizer Melvin Forbes, chief executive of Cool Wave Water. “It was obvious that Steny was simply talking about Steele’s constant support for the Republican agenda.”
The Rev. Anthony Evans, who heads a group called the National Black Church Initiative, released a statement last night calling Hoyer’s comment “outrageous and destructive.” “If I did not know Rep. Steny Hoyer, I would say that he is a racist,” Evans said.
“I shouldn’t have used those words,” Hoyer said yesterday, through a spokesman. “If Mr. Steele did in fact take offense let me assure him that none was intended.”
Cardin thanked Hoyer for addressing “this promptly, and we’re glad that he did.” But he also said Steele was trying to change the subject. “He’s looking for every excuse he can to avoid talking about the issues,” Cardin said.
Given the success of the Webb campaign’s flacking of the Macaca incident on the other side of the Potomac, I can understand the Steele team’s temptation here. But, geez, this is weak.
How weak? Even the gang at Power Line ain’t buying it. Paul Mirengoff observes, correctly, “This word is used all the time in politics to attack those who support a particular line. Let’s not draw any inferences from ordinary usage of the English language.”
So far, no word from Hugh Hewitt.