Roger Clegg and Hans A. von Spakovsky deserve high praise for debunking the latest GOP brainchild that does nothing to help the party nationally — a Senate resolution encouraging all private-sector employers to adopt the National Football League’s “Rooney Rule” — and illustrating that “conservative” Republicans, too, can be limousine liberals.
Five GOP senators — including presidential hopefuls Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Rob Portman — think both commercial and nonprofit enterprises should, per the NFL and Black Entertainment Television founder Robert L. Johnson, interview up to at least two “minority” candidates for every management or professional opening.
Clegg and von Spakovsky explore how such hiring-and-promotion practices are merely a thin edge of the wedge for quotas — predictably subordinating job qualifications to an applicant’s minority status, like all affirmative-action schemes.
And what is a “minority” anyway, in a nation where white students, we’ve just learned, no longer represent the majority of the public school population? The term certainly no longer refers to the truly disadvantaged group that the Civil Rights Act of 1965 intended to help: African-American working-class fathers. Indeed, a once-nice-sounding term has ballooned into a big tent for all sorts of politically favored groups, including high-status women and homosexuals — none of whom have ever suffered under Jim Crow, and all of whom would surely demand interviews for every professional vacancy under a Rooney Rule gone wild.
But more to the point: the resolution is further proof that the Grand Old Party has completely lost its way, as if the ghost of super-RINO John Lindsay has returned to stalk the party’s once-hallowed halls. Because such a half-baked concept does nothing to help Republicans bring back Reagan Democrats or recreate their center-right coalition, the only way to beat Hillary Clinton in 2016.
Preening and parading their compassion, these desperate pols are looking for love in all the wrong places, from power brokers in the liberal media to bicoastal elites, not from voters. Sure, it’s more fun hanging out with Bob Johnson than with plumbers and welders — Bob throws better parties, and these aspiring GOP leaders might be invited to sit in Johnson’s skybox — but that’s not the point.
With no grand vision of advancing Middle America — the playbook that Eisenhower, Nixon, and Reagan doggedly followed to landslide national victories — these presidential wannabes are playing small ball, running the gamut from triviality to banality. Meanwhile, they’re neglecting the truly decisive need: rebooting America and creating high-wage jobs for tens of millions of under- and un-employed Americans, most of whom lack college degrees and would never make the short list for positions in the upper tier.
Moreover, the proposed Rooney resolution underscores the danger of the GOP nominating — and electing to the White House — one of its Senate sponsors who hasn’t summoned up the intellectual and emotional heft to connect with or convince the forgotten Silent Majority that he has solid answers to its economic woes.
After a party has lost the popular vote five times of the last six presidential elections, these not-ready-for-prime-time senators should have learned that style does not trump substance when it comes to communicating what matters most: how to restore rising middle-class incomes — and jobs.
Robert W. Patterson served in the administrations of President George W. Bush and Pennsylvania governor Tom Corbett.