November 5, 2013

Reince Priebus engaged in some inflammatory wishful thinking on last night’s “Hannity.” To the Republican National Committee chairman, President Obama has “cultivated…a culture of dishonesty, a culture of hatred.”  Not only that, Priebus believes the president “should take ownership over this divisive culture that he has created.”

But you know, I think that the president should take ownership not just of what he’s said and what he’s promised the American people on Obamacare. But I think he should take ownership over this divisive culture that he has created, this KKK analogy you saw Trey (sic) Grayson roll out. And no Democrat is out there in any sort of organized fashion denouncing this. Now you got Harry Belafonte making the same allegation.

The perturbed party leader was responding to clips shown of Obama campaigning for Virginia Democratic gubernatorial candidate Terry McAuliffe where the president had the temerity to speak out against the Tea Party wing of the GOP. There was also video of Harry Belafonte branding the Koch brothers “white supremacists” while campaigning for New York City mayoral candidate Bill de Blasio over the weekend. The former was perfectly fine. The latter was not and de Blasio should have said so immediately.

Oh, and “Trey Grayson” refers to bombastic Rep. Alan Grayson (D-Fla.), who compared the Tea Party to the KKK in a fundraising letter last month. My MSNBC colleague Martin Bashir was absolutely right to tear into him during an interview on Oct. 25. Still, Priebus’s high dudgeon is awfully precious considering his party is littered with folks who have done nothing but coarsen this nation’s political discourse with nary a peep of condemnation from him or anyone of any stature in the GOP.

Michael Ashmore of Hooks, Tex. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)
Michael Ashmore of Hooks, Tex. (Joshua Roberts/Reuters)

Throw in persistent questions about Obama’s religion from folks aligned with the Republican Party. There are sitting Republican members of Congress who have openly talked about impeaching the president because they continue to believe he was not born in the United States. Rep. Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.) and Rep. Blake Farenthold (R-Tex.) are among them. When asked at a dinner over the summer, “Why don’t we impeach him?,” Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Tex.) responded, “It’s a good question.” Donald Trump rode atop the feted Republican presidential field for while by pushing the racist birther lie. And there were winks and nods on this issue from Speaker John Boehner and other so-called leaders of the party. No wonder a protester felt comfortable unfurling a Confederate flag in front of the White House last month.

If anyone “should take ownership over this divisive culture” it’s Priebus.

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Jonathan Capehart is a member of the Post editorial board and writes about politics and social issues for the PostPartisan blog.