A New Mehlman
January 19, 2007
Ken Mehlman, the departing head of the Republican National Committee, just gave an extraordinary swan song.
Speaking at the RNC’s annual winter meeting, he warned the Republican Party basically to stop being so Republican.
He didn’t want to hear any excuses about why the Republicans lost in November.
As he put it, “We must do better . . . and we must be better.”
He talked of the need for Republican politicians to meet the highest ethical standards, and for the Party to make clear to its corrupt members, are you listening Tom DeLay, that, in Mehlman’s words, “We don’t want you.”
But he didn’t stop there.
He talked about the Republican Party being the “party of reform on every issue.”
He embraced bipartisan immigration reform and even universal health care coverage.
Above all, he urged the Republican Party to be multicultural. He didn’t use that word. What he said was, “We must . . . go forward to make the Party of Lincoln whole again.”
He rattled off the names of African American Republican candidates and elected officials.
He talked about “reaching out to all Americans,” and embracing “voting rights for every American.”
Easy for him to say now after the Republicans, under his sway, erected one barrier after another to voting in the last election. (And when he boasted, “We invested in new technology that in 2008 will make it easier to elect a Republican President,” it was hard not to gasp at the possibilities there.)
But this was a new Mehlman, saying the Republicans are “not going back” to the old bigoted days.
He even used the word “homophobia” in his speech, which has got to be a first for a Republican National Chairman, especially one who presided over the referendums to ban gay marriage.
Ken Mehlman can wish for a new, kinder and gentler Republican Party. But that’s not the Party he helped govern. And it’s not likely to be the party of 2008.