January 20, 2003
Andrew Sullivan Wonders

Addendum 2003-01-23: Ah! Looks like the original story wasn't true. I deserve it for relying on Andrew Sullivan for facts. Of course, he deserves it for relying on a fly-by-night outfit like Time-Warner rather than on some reputable weblogger for his facts... :-)

Andrew Sullivan wonders why--after the Republican Trent Lott debacle--George W. Bush and his administration keep trying to--nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more, say no more--send a message that the Republican Party is the party for people who don't like Black people:

www.AndrewSullivan.com - Daily Dish: AFTER THE LOTT DEBACLE: Why on earth is the Bush administration doing this?

TIME: Look Away, Dixieland: Bush may have rebuked Lott for his praise of Strom Thurmond, but the President recently revived a practice of paying homage to an even greater champion of the Confederacy: Last Memorial Day, for the second year in a row, Bush's White House sent a floral wreath to the Confederate Memorial in Arlington National Cemetery. Six days later, as the United Daughters of the Confederacy celebrated Jefferson Davis' birthday there, Washington chapter president Vicki Heilig offered a "word of gratitude to George W. Bush" for "honoring" the Old South's dead. Bush has quietly reinstated a tradition dating back to Woodrow Wilson that his father had halted in 1990. The elder Bush was weary of infighting among various Confederacy groups, so his White House quit participating altogether. The current Bush White House denies any change in policy. But John Edward Hurley, head of the Confederate Memorial Association in Washington, says, "No one saw a wreath from 1990 until George W. Bush got elected," and other participants in the annual event support his account. It's not clear why, after more than a decade's lapse, the current Bush White House resumed this symbolic tribute to the Old South. But one of the organizations connected to the ceremony is the Sons of Confederate Veterans, whose "Chief Aide-de-Camp" is Richard T. Hines, a politically active lobbyist from South Carolina. In that state's brutal 2000 Republican primary, Hines reportedly helped finance tens of thousands of letters blasting Bush rival John McCain for failing to support the flying of the Confederate flag over the state capitol...

The peculiar thing, of course, is that it is Andrew Sullivan who spends his time hanging around Republican High Politicians, political operatives, and intellectuals. He ought to have much better insight into why they do the things they do than the rest of us.

Posted by DeLong at January 20, 2003 08:45 AM | Trackback

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Remarkable comments....

"We saw Bush supporters try to win the racist vote in South Carolina by spreading word that John McCain had a black child. (He has an adopted daughter from Bangladesh.)"

Maureen Dowd - NYTimes

Posted by: on January 20, 2003 12:59 PM

I am utterly convinced that the Confederacy was first, last, and foremost, about the defense of slavery. It is objectively ridiculous to claim, as did the late M.E. Bradford, that the Confederate flag actually represents agrarian values and the manly values of courage and persistence. However, Iíve met a number of Southerners who insist that this is so! A number of years ago, I even talked to a elderly Jewish lady whose southern family roots go back before the Civil War---and she adamantly rejected the notion that the Confederate flag is a symbol of racist inequality. These folks may be living in a dream world, but sometimes itís best to humor them. After all, they will die off in a few more years. In other words: take a chill pill. There are far more serious demons requiring our attention.

Posted by: David Thomson on January 20, 2003 01:51 PM

David, you are to be commended for your optimism, but the folks who rally around the neo-confederate groups are young and willing to spread their dogma...

Posted by: Emma on January 20, 2003 05:22 PM

Indeed, I work with a 29 yr old Canadian-American from Niagara Falls, NY who drives a car with a Jeb Stuart license plate, and who enthusiastically pointed out that yesterday was "Stonewall Jackson Day." Sure enough, he believes in his heart that slavery was incidental to the Civil War.
It's certainly fair to ask, So what? But, not surprisingly, he is also racist; not a cross-burner, but exactly the kind of person who will back Bush more strongly because of the JDavis wreath, and for other Southern Strategy-style double messages.

To reiterate: traitor-loving racists have a home in the Republican Party. This is not news.

Posted by: JRoth on January 21, 2003 08:11 AM

Jefferson Davis = GOOD
John Walker Lindh = BAD.

I don't get it.

Posted by: Jon H on January 21, 2003 08:46 AM

"But, not surprisingly, he is also racist"

What is your evidence?

Posted by: David Thomson on January 21, 2003 09:14 AM

I have a debuttal (re-bunking?) of the TIME piece at my humble blog. Frankly, the piece debunks itself - the wreath is for Memorial Day; Jefferson Davis's birthday is June 3. Even the quoted speaker does not connect the wreath to Davis. Only TIME manages to do that, without presenting any evidence whatsoever.

Posted by: Tom Maguire on January 22, 2003 04:06 AM

Here's a link.


Posted by: Anarchus on January 22, 2003 07:12 AM

TIME has retracted this preposterous article, and even the TIME link to it is gone:


It's the Good Professor who plays the fool here, not the victim of his preaching, Andrew Sullivan, and not the President.

Posted by: Robert Musil on January 24, 2003 08:37 AM

TIME has retracted this preposterous article, and even the TIME link to it is gone:


It's the Good Professor who plays the fool here, not the victim of his preaching, Andrew Sullivan, and not the President.

Posted by: Robert Musil on January 24, 2003 08:41 AM

The peculiar thing, of course, is why a university professor would give so much credence to such a thinly documented story. Perhaps the insight offered by this story is the insight into Brad's politics and prejudices...

Posted by: Thomas on January 24, 2003 03:55 PM

If a mere cheerleader like Sullivan is expected to have special insight into the mentality behind the wreaths, imagine how much more we could learn from someone who was an actual White House advisor at a time when they were being sent. Don't keep us hanging, Prof. DeLong-- let's hear some of those lurid tales of racism!

Posted by: Paul Zrimsek on January 25, 2003 08:47 AM
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