Tuesday, February 12, 2008

Rendell: Pennsylvanians are Racist

Typically, when the governor of a state speaks to the press, he or she expounds on that state's positive qualities -- highlighting the virtues of the state's citizens.

Not so Pennsylvania Governor Ed Rendell (D). He likes to tell editorial boards that citizens in his Keystone State are racists.

Tony Norman of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (no one's idea of a pro-Republican paper) has the story:

Gov. Ed "Don't Call Me 'Fast Eddie' " Rendell met with the editorial board of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week to talk about his latest budget. But before turning the meeting over to his number-crunchers, our voluble governor weighed in on the primary fight between Hillary Rodham Clinton and Barack Obama and what the Illinois senator could expect from the good people of Pennsylvania at the polls:

"You've got conservative whites here, and I think there are some whites who are probably not ready to vote for an African-American candidate," he said bluntly. Our eyes only met briefly, perhaps because the governor wanted to spare the only black guy in the room from feeling self-conscious for backing an obvious loser. "I believe, looking at the returns in my election, that had Lynn Swann [2006 Republican gubernatorial candidate] been the identical candidate that he was --well-spoken [note: Mr. Rendell did not call the brother "articulate"], charismatic, good-looking -- but white instead of black, instead of winning by 22 points, I would have won by 17 or so."

I know I have a habit of sometimes zoning out in these meetings, but it sounded to me like Mr. Rendell had unilaterally declared Pennsylvania to be Alabama circa 1963. Was he suggesting that Pennsylvanians are uniquely racist in ways that folks in the states Mr. Obama has won so far aren't? By the way, Mr. Obama won Alabama on Super Tuesday, thank you very much!

What accounts for Mr. Rendell's overweening confidence that, no matter what, he'll always find a way to overcome the odds by at least 17 points even in a racist commonwealth, but that Mr. Obama can't?

If Mr. Rendell, a Clinton backer, is right about Pennsylvania's racial attitudes, maybe we should get a new state slogan. How about: "You've got a friend with a pointy white hood in Pennsylvania"?

With friends like these ... ?

I have never cared for Ed Rendell's style of politics or governing. Now I have a good reason.

Hat-tip: Andrew Sullivan.

1 comment:

Jeffrey Smith said...

I'm a native Pennsylvanian and spent most of my life there. While the governor's point may have been a bit off, don't underestimate just how much racism is out there. For years people have been saying Pennsylvania's Philadelphia and Pittsburgh with Alabama in the middle. I've seen far too much not to see some truth in that.