PANDERING REVISITED….The splintering of the GOP continues apace. Mel Martinez has resigned as head of the Republican National Committee because, according to the New York Times, “he was increasingly uncomfortable as the face of the party.” Peter Wallsten of the LA Times explains a little less delicately:
A statement by Martinez released by the RNC did not mention the immigration issue or the courtship of Latino voters….But Martinez’s frustration was well known. He had warned that a continuation of the GOP’s 2006 tactics — airing anti-illegal immigration television ads that many believed used ethnic stereotypes — could doom the party’s hope of competing for the country’s fastest-growing voter bloc.
….The top Republican candidates for president, former New York Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, are promising to be tougher on illegal immigration.
The big immigration debate earlier this year has blown over, so why resign now? The answer is in the last paragraph: if you were one of the party’s few Hispanic leaders, how would you feel watching the leading Republican presidential candidates practically tripping over each other week after week to declare undying fealty to the GOP’s angry white guy nativists? It’s yet another of the special interest checkboxes I mentioned yesterday: kept under wraps back in the heady days of the Republican Revolution, but now on full, ugly display and demanding ever greater obeisance as a litmus test for being a true conservative. Martinez had had enough, so he quit.