Yesterday, Secretary of State Condelezza Rice sat for an interview with CNBC’s Maria Bartiromo. In a portion of the interview that does not appear to have aired, Bartiromo asked Rice about her “thoughts on the Republican party.” Rice claimed that the GOP has played a large role in bringing the country to a place where “people can look beyond race”:
RICE: [T]he Republican Party also has done a lot for bringing us to a place that — not that race doesn’t matter, but where people can look beyond race. If you look at the last two Secretaries of State, African Americans, they were Republican administrations, the Administration of George W. Bush that appointed them.
Rice’s rosy picture of race relations in America is puzzling. In March of this year, Rice more credibly argued that “America doesn’t have an easy time dealing with race.” Rice noted at the time how prevalent the after effects of our national “birth defect” — slavery — continue to be:
RICE: [T]hat’s not a very pretty reality of our founding, and I think that particular birth defect makes it hard for us to confront [race], hard for us to talk about [race], and hard for us to realize that [race] has continuing relevance for who we are today. … [D]escendents of slaves, therefore, did not get much of a head start. And I think you continue to see some of the effects of that.
More puzzling, however, is her crediting the Republican party with the significant progress that has been made with regard to race and racism in America. In recent years, the party has blocked attempts to protect civil rights. Additionally, Republican power brokers have spouted xenophobic and racist rhetoric, while members of the conservative movement cheer them on. In particular, Republican presidential candidates have a history of exploiting racial and ethnic divides for electoral benefit.
The Republican party’s failure to include minorities is evident by the lack of diversity in the congressional Republican caucus. Of the 247 members in the caucus, none are African-American and just five are Hispanic. Similarly, at the 2008 Republican National Convention, just 2 percent of the delegates were black.
In fact, as former Bush speechwriter David Frum put it in criticizing his party on NPR this morning, the Republican Party is the “party of white America.”