Politico led Tuesday morning with a story by Todd S. Purdam on the late Rep. Bill McCulloch (R-OH), “The Republican Who Saved Civil Rights.” The story is not an April Fool’s Day joke. It is a rare acknowledgment that Republicans were key to pushing civil rights legislation through Congress, despite the opposition of Southern Democrats and the reluctance of some northeast Democrats. However, as usual, Politico has an agenda.
That agenda is predictable even before clicking on the story: to bash today’s Republicans by comparison. And, sure enough, Purdum lays into Speaker of the House John Boehner, who currently represents McCulloch’s home base.
Boehner, Purdum says, “has shown himself politically unwilling (or at least unable) to protect gay men and lesbians from employment discrimination, to address the need for comprehensive immigration reform or simply to keep the government up and running in the face of the tea party’s caprice last fall.”
It is a statement stuffed to the gills with bad-faith assumptions and bias. Not only does Purdum equate the push for gay rights to the civil rights movement–a debatable proposition–but he also describes immigration as a civil right, and places the burden of responsibility for the government shutdown entirely on Republican shoulders.
Ironically, the contribution that McCulloch is said to have made is to moderate the demands of liberal reformers that would have guaranteed failure of civil rights legislation. In that regard, McCulloch had an ally in President Kennedy. Today, the Obama White House “would rather have an issue than a bill,” to borrow Kennedy’s words.
And yet for Politico and much of the media, it is the Republican leadership that must be blamed for gridlock.