GOP Retrogression on the Confederate Flag?

I’m a bit amused by the big-time attaboys Mitt Romney’s getting for supporting a relegation of the Confederate Battle Flag to the museums–and by all the equivocating by the 2016 GOP presidential field on this subject. Should it require a profile in courage to reach the conclusion that this symbol of slavery and Jim Crow has no business flying high on statehouse property, especially in the state that began the calamity of the Confederacy?

As I’ve probably mentioned here before, back in 1993, I helped write Zell Miller’s State-of-the-State Address that heavily centered on his proposal to take Confederate Battle Flag elements out of Georgia’s state flag. It didn’t succeed, and it was one of several factors (his relationship with Bill Clinton was another) that nearly cost Miller what was expected to be a relatively easy reelection in 1994. But the opposition to the flag change came as much from rural Democrats as from Republicans, and among Miller’s supporters was none other than Newt Gingrich, on the brink of his apotheosis as Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives and leader of the Republican Revolution.

If it was obvious to Newt in 1993 that it was time for a change on Confederate symbols, should it be that hard to “get” 22 years later? Have Republicans actually retrogressed since then?

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.