The Efficacy Of Race-Baiting

Matt notes the logic behind Pat Buchanan's calls for GOP senators to more explicitly use race against Sotomayor:

At any rate, while Buchanan is being repugnant, I do think this is something conservatives are going to want to think about. Consider the case of Jeff Sessions (R-AL). We're talking about a guy who's too racist to get confirmed as a judge, but just racist enough to win a Senate seat in Alabama. And it's not because Alabama is a lilly white state. With 65 percent of its electorate white, and 29 percent of its electorate African-American, Alabama is much more demographically favorable to the Democrats than is the country at large. But while McCain pulled 55 percent of the white vote nationwide he scored 88 percent of white vote in Alabama. And this is what you tend to see in the Deep South, white Americans exhibiting the kind of high levels of racial solidarity in voting behavior that you normally associate with African-Americans in the US political context.

Consequently states with small white populations like Alabama, Louisiana, and Mississippi can be solid GOP territory. Under the circumstances, it's not entirely crazy for Republicans to believe that the right way to respond to shifting American demographics is by just trying to amp-up the level of racial anxiety in the shrinking white majority. An analogy might be to religion. When the country was overwhelmingly Christian, Christianity didn't play much of a role in our politics. But as the Christian majority shrank it became more and more viable to explicitly mobilize Christian identity for political purposes.

There are a couple problems here, I'd submit. One is that Sotomayor isn't black (except in Baltimore.)  She's a Latina. Amping up the race-baiting isn't just going to turn off black people (most of whom are already turned-off) it turns off Latinos also.

The second problem is that it likely turns a significant portion of white people also. The GOP's problem isn't that it needs to shore up Alabama--at least not yet. It's problem is, well, basically everywhere else that isn't Alabama. I don't know how bashing Sotomayor makes you more competitive in, say, Colorado or Oregon. I'd assume the opposite.

Altogether, I think this is awful political advice. But it's about what you'd expect from the guy who, as one of Matt's commenters note, told us that Sarah Palin would steal women from Obama. You don't have to be right to do Buchanan's job. Or even sincere. You just have to be very loud.