Given the portrait the mainstream news media has painted of the two major political parties, please identify which of the following actions were taken by the Democrat and which by the Republican:
Scenario One: A United States Senator resigns from office just two years into a six year term. The state’s governor, whose parents immigrated to the United States from India, appoints to the office the first African-American from the South to sit in the upper chamber since the Civil War.
Scenario Two: A long-serving U.S. Senator, a war hero and an individual of Japanese-American heritage, on his death bed asks his state’s governor to appoint to fill the remainder of his term a woman of similar ethnic background. The governor, a male Caucasian, spurns the request and appoints a political ally, his Lt. Governor, who also happens to be white.
If you attributed the first set of circumstances to Democrats and the second to Republicans you would fulfill the media stereotype of the two parties.
You would also be wrong.
U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) recently announced his resignation from the Senate to assume the presidency of the Heritage Foundation, one of the nation’s leading conservative think tanks. Governor Nikki Haley, herself a rising star on the national Republican scene, appointed Congressman Tim Scott to represent the Palmetto State in the Senate. Congressman Scott, will be the first African-American from the South to serve in the U.S. Senate since the Civil War and the first Republican to do so since 1979 when Democrat Paul Tsongas defeated incumbent U.S. Senator Edward Brooke of Massachusetts.
Meanwhile, in the nation’s 50th state, Governor Neil Abercrombie named Lt. Governor Brian Schatz to fill the seat vacated by the death of long-serving U.S. Senator Daniel Inouye. On his death bed Inouye, an honored hero of the Second World War, requested the appointment of Congresswoman Colleen Hanabusa to represent Hawaii in the Senate. Abercrombie ignored the request.
Imagine if you will if the party identities of these two casts of characters had been reversed. What sort of fire storm would have ensued if a Republican governor had ignored the dying wish of a revered U.S. Senator of minority ethnicity to appoint a white party loyalist to the position?
Conversely, little mention has been made in the media about the historic nature of the Tim Scott appointment, largely because Mr. Scott is a conservative Republican. The ascendance of black conservatives does not fit the media narrative, so it was conveniently ignored.
The recent history of the Democratic Party when it comes to appointing minorities to open U.S. Senate seats is as abysmal as the current instance. Of the last seven vacancies, going back five years, only one has been a minority. That would be the 2008 appointment of Roland Burris of Illinois to replace Barack Obama who resigned to become President. That turned out to be a dubious honor. Burris immediately became mired in an ethics scandal that resulted in the seat being lost to Republican Mark Kirk in 2010. Further, the appointing governor, Rod Blagojevich, ended up jailed because of the maneuvering that took place over the appointment.
Since then, Democrats have had the opportunity to fill six unexpired U.S.
Senate terms. Five went to white men: Brian Schatz of Hawaii, Carte Goodwin of West Virginia, Paul Kirk of Massachusetts, Michael Bennett of Colorado and Edward Kaufman of Delaware. One woman was appointed, Kirsten Gillibrand of New York who replaced Hillary Rodham Clinton when she resigned to become Secretary of State. Another white male, Congressman Ed Markey is the likely replacement for U.S. Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts when he is confirmed as the new Secretary of State.
The simultaneous playing out of these two appointments dramatically underscores the hypocrisy and the double standard that exists when it comes to media coverage of the two political parties, especially when those of the conservative bent are involved.
Since the defeat of Mitt Romney on November 6th the narrative spun by the Left has been that the GOP cannot win because it fails to reach out to women and to minorities. Yet, in South Carolina you have a female governor making a historic appointment of an African-American and little note is made of the development. Meanwhile, white Democrats spurn the dying wish of a Senator of ethnic heritage and the decision, rather than being criticized, is ignored.
Clearly a double standard, but advantage to Governor Haley and to the GOP for picking Tim Scott, not because it was politically correct, but because it was the right thing to do. Perhaps someday Republicans will actually get credit for their diversity.
(Lowman S. Henry is Chairman & CEO of the Lincoln Institute and host of the weekly Lincoln Radio Journal. His e-mail address is firstname.lastname@example.org.)