A visit from a Montana Nazi
The flap started when a 24-year-old Butte man, Shawn Stuart, filed for a state legislature seat as a Republican. The Montana Human Rights Network revealed that he was a member of the American Nazi Party, and the GOP quickly disowned him, even vowed to campaign against him, which means supporting the Democrat in the race.
Pogie Jason has a post up about how the Nazis started harassing the Montana Human Rights Network, Travis McAdam of the Montana Human Rights Network has an editorial in yesterday’s Billings Gazette about the group, and David at Billings Blog has a statement from National Socialist spokesman, Bill White, that claims the GOP originally “encouraged” Stuart to run for the Butte seat.
I riffed off of the Billings Blog post in a “Links…” post and said (rather unfairly? you decide!) “Personally I’m not surprised about which party a Nazi feels comfortable in.”
Guess who submitted a comment to my site? Montana Nazi, Bill White! He pasted a long “press release” to the comments section, most of which I won’t reproduce here, because I don’t want people to waste their mornings wiping down their computer screens. (To read the whole thing, follow the above link to the comments.) But there were a couple of interesting tidbits I hadn’t seen before.
When I lived in Montgomery County, Maryland, I managed the campaign of Constitution Party candidate Brian Saunders. He ran for Congress in Maryland’s 8th District against Democrat Terry Lierman and Republican Connie Morella. The race was tight, and both parties poured money into the campaign. Lierman spent $2 million; Connie spent $1 million. We spent $40,000.
At the end of the day, Brian won 2.6% of the vote. Connie got something like 49% Lierman got some like 48%. The Republicans took notice.
In 2002 I was invited to the Republican Party’s Lincoln Day Dinner. Connie was running again and Democratic State Senator Christopher Van Hollen and State Rep Mark Shriver were vying to oppose her. The Republicans wanted to talk to me.
So I had dinner with Connie, now Maryland Governor Bob Ehrlich, Karl Rove, and most of the local Montgomery County Republican officials.
Connie Morella told me to stop running candidates against her to he right. I told her that I, and the coalition I had built, would not endorse a candidate who was anti-gun, pro-abortion and pro-war. Her response was:
“But if you keep doing this I’m going to lose and a Democrat is going to win.”
I told her:
“I’d rather have an honest scumbag Democrat in office then a dishonest Republican.”
One of the Republican consultants then chimed in:
“But Bill, you don’t understand. It doesn’t matter what the candidates think about the issues. All that matters is that they have an ‘R’ by their name. You see, someone who is pro-gun and anti-abortion can’t survive in this District. But on important party issues she can have the occassional break and vote with the GOP.”
I found that logic extremely offensive. By the end of the night, we had not reached a deal.
A few thoughts:
First, I acknowledge that the source is unreliable, at best. But the conversation seems realistic enough. Even through White’s twisted prism, you can feel the caution and wariness in the tone of the mainstream politicians when dealing with the Nazi, just like you’d imagine in a meeting like this. So it seems somewhat accurate.
Bill White, Nazi, was at a dinner meeting with Karl Rove! Who else would have loved to be a fly on the wall?
It’s interesting that GOP officials wanted White’s candidate to drop out of the race, because he was stealing votes from the Republican Party. That is, the Republicans needed the Nazi vote to win. You make your own snark.
And lastly, let me say that I don’t believe for a second that the Republican Party supports the Nazi ideology in any way, shape, or form. Yes, I’m surprised that Rove and other GOP leaders would even talk to this guy, let alone dine with him, but I understand that it was politics: they were worried this guy would steal a few votes from the far right-end of the spectrum, votes that would otherwise go to Republican candidates, and they needed to talk him from running his candidate. (Still…these people want to vote for Nazis! I say, let them!)
I do think Karl Ohs’ response was the right thing to do. He completely denied any association with the National Socialist party and reaffirmed his party’s “commitment to equal rights and equality for every citizen regardless of gender, age, race, national origin, religion, creed, or physical impairment” (tho’ he left out “sexual orientation”!). Yes, having a Nazi running under your banner is bad publicity, but I do believe that this was one of the rare cases where political expediency met genuine feeling.
So, let’s celebrate this brief moment of togetherness and brotherhood, we liberals and conservatives, as we join hands and agree to dislike Nazis. No pasarán!