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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Echo Syndrome: Captain Ed Brings Up The Same Point

I don't often cite this, but after reading this, I had a sense of deja vu. This morning, Captain Ed opened up his day of blogging with Cynthis McKinney. She seems to be losing a bit of steam lately.

The lawmaker has received little if any support from colleagues of either party, and a federal grand jury is mulling whether to bring criminal charges against her.

In McKinney's suburban Atlanta district, the altercation has created doubts about her fitness for office.Khalil King, a businessman, said he wasn't sure he would vote for her again. "I just feel like she's overreacting," said King, who is black.

But to many Georgia Democrats, much more is at stake than McKinney's political future. Support from moderate white voters is seen as crucial to the party's chances of winning upcoming statewide contests, and there is a fear that McKinney's conflict will cast a negative light on the Democratic Party.

"Her behavior puts a lot of Democrats on the defensive," said political scientist Merle Black of Emory University in Atlanta. "But she becomes very difficult for a lot of white Democrats to criticize in public, because they're concerned they might lose African American support."

McKinney's 4th Congressional District covers much of DeKalb County, the second most populous in Georgia. The county — which is more than 50% black, according to 2000 census figures — is considered a treasure trove of reliable Democratic voters.

The McKinney scuffle has become an issue in the gubernatorial race, in which Republican incumbent Sonny Perdue is likely to face off against either Secretary of State Cathy Cox or Lt. Gov. Mark Taylor. Both Democratic challengers portray themselves as centrists who can appeal to the kind of moderate white and rural voters who have been abandoning Democrats in the South for a number of years.

This week, Georgia Republican Party Chairman Alec Poitevint called on Cox and Taylor to publicly admonish McKinney. When they didn't, Perdue drove the point home.

"I think the silence is deafening," Perdue said, according to a report in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.McKinney has been a magnet for controversy since 1992, when she was first elected to Congress.

She has questioned U.S. support for Israel, has called the Iraq war "illegal," and requested clemency for murderer Stanley Tookie Williams, the former gang leader whom California executed in December.

Critics say she has a taste for conspiracy theories: After Sept. 11, McKinney suggested that President Bush knew about the attacks in advance. Last year she called for the release of federal files on slain rapper Tupac Shakur. A news release on her website says there are "many parallels" between Shakur's death and FBI treatment of black leaders and entertainers of the civil rights era.

McKinney was defeated in the 2002 primary by a more moderate African American, Denise L. Majette, who also won the general election. Majette gave up the seat in 2004, when she unsuccessfully ran for U.S. Senate; McKinney won the seat back.

In the July primary, McKinney will face Hank Johnson, a black lawyer and elected county official who has promised to be less polarizing.

Johnson initially shied from direct attacks on McKinney when he announced his candidacy in December. On Friday, however, he said the incident with the police officer "takes away the last vestiges of credibility that she has."

McKinney spokesman Coz Carson said Friday that his boss had "probably been misquoted, mischaracterized and misjudged more than any other politician in America."

Naturally, that comes from her spokesman, who is doing his job. But, let's face some facts here. Cynthia McKinney has had five previous entanglements with Capitol police, and every time, this woman plays the race card in an effort to bully her way through the crimes she may have commited. The sixth incident did involve a crime (assault), and that is one that a grand jury is not likely to simply drop. She assaulted an officer of the law. They are enforcers of the law, not Congressional beating posts. And on the day it was revealed that she had a possibly armed bodyguard following her around, I posted this:

And I can't blame the Capitol police. To my knowledge only Capitol police and Secret Service are allowed to have firearms within the Congressional building. So, if he is armed, his firearm would have to be turned over upon entry, and returned upon exit. In other words, he can't walk around the Congress building armed. This incident with the reporter shouldn't be accepted by the House. It is reprehensible behavior from a public official. We know that this woman has had her share of run-ins with Capitol police, and she has always played the race card. I'm sure when the Capitol police do ask for his weapon, that will be the card she slaps on them again.

I would urge the House move towards a censure of McKinney. Her behavior is beyond the pale, and the apology was so half-hearted I could hear Voinovich sniffling in the background. She isn't one bit sorry for the run-in with the cops. She's sorry that it's garnered far too much attention for her, and it's all the unwanted sort. She isn't running unopposed.

Hank Johnson is the current Dekalb County Commissioner, and he's gunning for her seat. He's a former defense attorney, and was appointed by the Georgia Supreme Court to deal with charges against lawyers for ethics violations. He has a solid record as an upstanding member of the community that doesn't bring the embarrassment that Cynthia McKinney does. And based on my assessment, he could probably do a much better job of representing the Fourth Congressional District that McKinney could. But, that's my address specifically to the people of Georgia. There is an alternative.

Captain Ed posted this today:

The smart action for Georgia Democrats would be to throw their support to a more moderate candidate in the primaries. A DeKalb lawyer already in the primary race appears to fit the bill. Hank Johnson already holds county office; the Times doesn't bother with specifics, but Johnson is a county commissioner with an impressive bio, at least for a Democratic candidate. He's been a judge and a successful defense attorney, bragging about winning acquittals or hung juries (why would an attorney brag about a stalemate?) in significant cases.

Johnson certainly won't excite Republicans, but the GOP has no chance of winning this seat anyway. Replacing McKinney with Johnson would create a marked improvement regardless of party, as it is difficult to imagine anyone worse than McKinney. It might also allow Democrats in Georgia -- and in Congress -- an opportunity to recover a small measure of their credibility. Will DeKalb voters and their state party seize that opportunity and finally rid themselves of this serial embarrassment, or will they play it safe by protecting the incumbent at the risk of losing statewide races? I suspect that McKinney will wind up "retired" once again.

UPDATE: As Yoda once said, "There is another ..." Dignan wants to generate blogospheric support for his potential run against McKinney. Maybe Georgia voters should take note and grab this opportunity for a real impact on politics.

So, for now, there are two seriously mulling a run against McKinney. I could not agree with Ed Morrissey more than this point: McKinney doesn't represent anyone but herself. If Georgia voters want something better, the alternatives are out there. But then Georgia needs to make sure it doesn't make the same mistake again. When 4th District voters toss her out, they need to make sure she stays gone; frozen out of their community. Her rhetoric is over the top. Her loony conspiracy theories are the embarrassment of the Congress. It's time to bring some semblance of order and sensibility back to the 4th District, and to the House.

Publius II


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