by Max Brantley
I termed his quote racial (not racist) rhetoric.
I hear you loud and clear, Barack Obama. You don't represent the country that I grew up with. And your values is not going to save us. We're going to take this country back for the Lord. We're going to try to take this country back for conservatism. And we're not going to allow minorities to run roughshod over what you people believe in!
Many other national websites picked up the quote. Rapert and his defenders responded by saying his reference to minorities was about political minorities.
So I linked the full video. Watch for yourself. Does the full context absolve Rapert from appealing to racial feelings in the all-white crowd? He knows what was in his heart and mind. I don't. But I know this. What you see is a nativist "take back this country" screed, with country inflection and fractured grammar, complete with a sneering reference to the president's birth certificate.
Why dredge it back up? I heard from Sen. Rapert this morning via e-mail. He sent a message that he declared pre-emptively off the record. No journalist accepts pre-emptive off-the-record written messages. Off the record is an agreement, not a fiat.
Rapert tells me his family received death threats because of my "fun." Whether these purported threats quoted the Arkansas Blog, versus the dozens of other places that his remarks appeared, I don't know. I certainly don't approve of threats. But I do want to emphasize one sentence in Rapert's note. I offered not to quote it if he'd retract it, but he didn't.
You know full well my comments were not about race or religion.
Oh, really? Not about religion? Let's roll the tape, as first noted by New York magazine.
"I wonder sometimes, when they invited all the Moslems to come into the White House, and have 'em a little Ramadan supper, when our president could not take the time to go attend a National Prayer Breakfast. I wonder what he stands for."
Rapert may not be a racist. But he is dishonest, here so blatantly that only the word "lie" will do. Not that dishonesty is a revelation from this ornery corner. He's refused to provide a coherent response for how his bill to make abortion illegal after five or six weeks can withstand the certain successful lawsuit against four decades of federal case law. He also has been telling me since 2011 that his "fetal hearbeat protection bill" would not require an invasive vaginal probe of women — an unnecessary act. Medical testimony has made it clear that women seeking an abortion would be forced at early stages to have a probe inserted in them for an irrelevant ultrasound test. Rapert did finally offer an off-hand defense on this to me the other day when I remarked on the invasiveness of the procedure. He said sex was invasive. Yes, really. He said that. Which I took to mean: If a woman is willing to let a man insert a penis in her vagina, how could she possibly object to having a nine-inch probe forced into her vagina against her wishes by a stranger to obtain a legal medical procedure?
Not about religion? It is ALL about religion.
And about those prayer breakfasts. Barack Obama has attended them regularly. Photo of one from 2012 below was in New York magazine, as was the photo below it of George Bush at a Ramadan observance at the White House.
Bush with Muslims: