Wednesday, September 20, 2006

John Kline and his district director issue belligerent non-apologies for use of racial epithets

As the Star Tribune discloses, John Kline's campaign manager, Mike Osskopp, was caught on film harrassing veterans attending a Coleen Rowley event and complaining about how many of them drove a "Jap car". (Hey Mike, I've got two "Jap" cars. Want to come over to my place and scream about them through that megaphone?)

Naturally, once he is actually caught in the act of his slimy take on campaign tactics, Osskopp had no choice but to publicly apologize. But how did he phrase this apology?

"I apologize if my words offended any Americans of Japanese descent, including my sister-in-law," Osskopp said. "I allowed my emotions to get the better of me and used a phrase commonly used in my youth, but which is now inappropriate and offensive."

That's right... it's not really a slur at all, you see, it was perfectly acceptable in the past, and I just have a hard time keeping up with these crazy politically correct novelties they've rolled out the past few years, he implies. Apparently he really doesn't think slurring Japanese is a problem at all - it's the damn PC police that are the problem.

Pretty classy "apology", Osskopp.

Kline also "apologized" with the same sort of belligerent non-apology:
"That's unacceptable now," Kline said. "We've all seen the John Wayne movies about World War II, and then it was acceptable. Now it's not, and [Osskopp] knows that."

See, back in our day, it was perfectly acceptable. But I guess if you crazy bleeding-heart liberals insist on condemning it, we'll be okay with that...

Sorry Kline, that is worse than the original epithet. You might recall a whole lot of other racial slurs that were entirely "acceptable" fifty years ago that are now universally recognized as abhorrent - but that does not mean they were any less offensive to their targets, and morally abhorrent, when they and the attitudes they reflect were considered acceptable by a wide range of the socially advantaged.

The Star-Trib article keeps getting better: it also reveals that Kline's congressional office keeps a file on at least one critical constituent of his, Paul Bartlett, in which they save not only the emails he has sent to Kline - but Kline also has a staffer searching the Internet for and saving the same guy's blog posts critical of Kline (hat tip Inside Minnesota Politics.) As Bartlett points out, this appears to put Kline alongside J. Edgar Hoover, Joseph McCarthy and Richard Nixon in the exclusive club of American officials who felt the un-American need to keep an "enemies list". And all on our tax dollar - another terrific "fiscally responsible" expenditure by a charter member of the party that is spending away our children's future earnings like drunken sailors, and that dares not utter the phrase "fiscal responsibility" for apprehension of reminding everyone of back when they could claim to be the champions of fiscally responsible without getting laughed out of the room.

And to top it off, as the Star-Trib reports, Kline's chief of staff compared Bartlett to David Duke - because Bartlett complained about the racial slur.

So let's get this straight: Kline "apologized" for his district director's use of racial slurs by objecting that no one had a problem with the slur in the good ol' days, and has his chief of staff smear someone who objects to the slur by comparing him to David Duke.

Until recently, I was pretty neutral about Kline. I had tremendous respect for him as someone who had served our nation as a Marine, and I didn't really see anything about him that was worse than serving as a spear-carrier in the general GOP decline into subservience to K Street and a dictatorial administration. He seemed like just the sort of decent, mainstream Republican I would have been excited to vote for back in the '90's, when the GOP still stood for something.

Now I see I am represented in Congress by a guy who issues a non-apology not-too-subtly assigning blamelessness to an aide using a racial slur, and using my tax dollars to troll for and compile secret files on people who make negative blog posts and commentary about him - which I suppose includes me, if this is a halfway serious effort. (Hi there, McCarthyist Kline staffer! Sleeping well?) Well congrats, John; I wasn't really focused on my House race before, but you've made a dedicated Rowley campaign activist out of this former Republican.

When can the Minnesota Second get a representative that cares about anything at all other than passing whatever shameful tax giveaways it takes to keep the cashflow coming in from the lobbyists and from his convicted-felon-fellow-Congressmen?

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Wonder how many of us "former Republicans" Kline can afford to lose?

Like you, I wasn't so incensed with him until he dismissed me with a pat on the back and a sneer of "Been a Democrat all your life?" when I asked him about his use of the Congressional franking privilege to send out what I considered a campaign flyer.

Recently though, I see this may have been an "honest" mistake on his part because he apparently defines "campaign flyers" as ones which wildly distort and defame his opponent ... or her volunteers.

I found out last winter that if you call or write the Congressman with a complaint, you can't get a reply or call back to any future e-mails or phone calls. But now it looks like those who disagree have an "enemies file" opened up on them in the Congressional office. What's up with that?!?

I miss Rudy Boschwitz, Dave Durenberger, Al Quie and Arne Carlson. Hopefully when a few of these bad apples get weeded out the Minnesota GOP will return to being real fiscal conservatives, once again take a Libertarian view on personal and family issues, and produce a new generation of statesmen.

Until then, make mine Rowley (who like us, was a Republican pre-George Bush II).

-- LakevilleDad