GOP Candidates: In case you somehow didn’t get it last time

There is little I can say that I have not already. The GOP continues their effort to make 2008 presidential decisions as easy as possible. Michael Roston explains:

In recent weeks, Republican presidential candidates have found time in their busy schedules to speak or debate before the Republican Jewish Coalition, “Value Voters,” conservative Floridians, even Wyoming Republicans, who hold virtually no sway in the primary race. They’ve also agreed to appear at the CNN/YouTube debate they at one point shunned.

But it appears that some GOP frontrunners are once again letting an opportunity to appear before African-American voters lapse, just as they decided to sit out a black voter forum hosted last month by Tavis Smiley.

The Congressional Black Caucus Institute announced in September that it had scheduled a debate for November 4 on Fox News for Republican presidential candidates. But a spokeswoman for the group confirmed to the Huffington Post that it has now been postponed, with no new date set.

Or Steve Benen at Carpetbagger:

Last month, PBS hosted a Republican presidential candidates’ debate at historically black college in Baltimore — and all of the top four GOP candidates decided to skip it. This followed close on the heels of a Univision-hosted Republican debate in Miami on Latino issues — which was cancelled when all but one candidate declined invitations. The National Council of La Raza asked Republican candidates to address its annual conference in July, but none showed up. The National Association of Latino Elected & Appointed Officials extended similar invitations to the entire GOP field, but only Duncan Hunter agreed to attend.

Previously, in considering the decisions by GOP front-runners to skip a September debate at Morgan State University, I had noted warnings by such figures as Newt Gingrich and Jack Kemp; they deserve credit on this because they both know how to blow prestige and political capital. I had even suggested that it was hard to argue with the warnings. Quite obviously, I was wrong.

In September, Newt Gingrich advised, “Any of them who give you that scheduling-conflict answer are disingenuous. That’s baloney.” And he was talking about his fellow Republicans. I suppose we should not be surprised that he, too, was wrong.

CBCI is right to attempt to reschedule the debate. The mere weeks between announcing and intending to hold the debate, reasonably considered, did not give the GOP enough time to come up with proper excuses. Besides, it will be interesting to see how much negotiation it will actually take to get the GOP front-runners into a debate pitching to minority voters. One wonders why they are so reluctant.

In the meantime, I happened to hear the Morgan State debate on the radio, and one of the things that struck me is that the GOP needs to trot out its favorite show poodle, Alan Keyes, a little more often. He’s a poster-child for diversity. (Maybe he should invite Mitt Romney over for tube steaks and policy discussions.) And does this not point out another problem the GOP faces? What does it mean, exactly, when you have to rustle up candidates to fill out the stage at a debate? Hell, the Democrats are actually leaving candidates out of debates, and the GOP is scrambling to field enough to make the discussion … what? Worthwhile? Entertaining? Not futile? Certain ironies swirl viciously around this whole situation, but where to start? What is important? Should I really spend three hundred words explaining the gay joke I just made a couple of lines above? Perhaps expound on the contrasts between a Democratic party that is going absolutely martial all over its own membership in an effort to–rhetorically, at least–save the country, and a GOP so divorced from, well, itself that we would be moved to pity save for the fact that it is, after all, the Republican party?

This must be an aggravating time for Republicans. Even if we pretend the average Republican holds minority communities in such disdain, it is harder still to pretend that the average Republican is too stupid to see the point. They’re watching their candidates essentially throw away the fight before it ever gets underway. Maybe the evangelical campaign should start a PUSH campaign: Pray Until Something Happens. Because it really does look like the GOP is going to need a miracle.

Of course, Karl Rove has yet to commit his first official atrocity of this campaign cycle, so maybe this whole forfeiture of the race, this early concession, this acknowledgment by the GOP front-runners that even they do not believe in themselves, is all part of an elaborate ruse.

Stay tuned. It can only get more ridiculous from here.

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