‘It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House…’

Somehow I missed this when it was in the Charleston Business Review way back in January — until Burl, all the way from Hawaii, brought it to our attention today:

Rep. Kris Crawford, a Republican from Florence and also an emergency room doctor, supports the expansion but expects the Republican caucus to vote as a block against the Medicaid expansion.

“The politics are going to overwhelm the policy. It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House right now, especially for the Republican Party,” Crawford said.

Well, he certainly pegged that. The House did indeed do the totally irrational thing and reject Medicaid. Which makes this prophetic statement from a GOP lawmaker — and you did notice the part about him being a Republican, right? — particularly noteworthy.

Why is he so out of step with his caucus? Because he’s a doctor, so he knows better.

That’s chapter one of our story. Chapter two is that this week, Rep. Crawford fulfilled his own prophecy by voting along with his party on the issue. But then, so did all but one Democrat:

Crawford voted against accepting the money on Wednesday because it was proposed as part of the state’s budget — which he says is not the right place to do it. Instead, he wants to propose separate legislation later this year, and he worried that if he voted with the Democrats on the budget none of his Republican colleagues would support him…

Meanwhile, Dick Harpootlian has castigated Crawford for the wrong thing, referring to his “the racist and inexcusable comments by Rep. Kris Crawford regarding Medicaid expansion.

I tend to agree with Todd Rutherford, who said, “I am never bothered by someone stating the truth.”

Meanwhile, Crawford has baked down on the more inflammatory part of his comment, but not on the general thrust:

In an interview on Thursday, Crawford said his vote on the state budget was political, but said it had nothing to do with race — noting that if he had to do it over again, he “might pick different words.” But he stood behind the larger point of his comments, criticizing Haley and the House Republican Caucus for voting against the expansion purely because a Democratic president is for it.

69 thoughts on “‘It is good politics to oppose the black guy in the White House…’

  1. Steven Davis II

    One important detail is missing in this article. ER doctors are almost always salaried hospital employees who don’t have to deal with Medicaid paperwork the way primary care and specialists do. ER doctors get paid a set salary just the same as other salaried hospital employees do.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      ER doctors deal with the GOMERs* who come in because they lack alternative medical options.

      *Get Out Of My Emergency Room

  2. Doug Ross

    Just once I’d like to see you or someone like Kris Crawford name a single person in power who displays the racism you claim is the reason behind every opposition to social programs and immigration reform. How is it that we have all these racist politicians but we never know who they are?

    Start at Nikki Haley and work your way down through the Republican hierarchy. Identify ONE person who is a racist. Just one.

    1. Bart

      Damn good point Doug. I too would like to have confirmation of all the “racists” who occupy the Republican party and heirachy in SC. When all else fails when one disagrees with Democrats or programs, the safe haven is to charge “racism” without proof. Just because one opposes expensive and expansive programs is not cause for the “racism” dog whistle to be blown.

  3. barry

    No one is overt these days.

    I did wonder why Sen Lee Bright, today, proposed an amendent Failed) to make voters register separately if they wanted to vote early. In other words, you’d have to register to vote early, and have a separate registration for voting on election day.

    It does make one wonder what his motivation for making it as difficult as possible to vote early could be. Hmm……….

  4. barry

    Doug –

    by the way – maybe Crawford would tell you privately. It’s his words- and of course he knows these folks better than you do. He works with them every day.

  5. Burl Burlingame

    But as they say, a gaffe in politics is accidentally telling the truth. If you want to be successful in SC Republican politics, you’re required to be against your opponent simply because they’re “black guys.”

    1. Doug Ross

      Burl – do you have the guts to name a racist South Carolina Republican?

      Strom Thurmond seemed to do well with his outreach efforts to underage black women.

    2. Steven Davis II

      So how are things in Hawaii politically? Perfect or to the point where you don’t need to deal with them locally?

    3. Steven Davis II

      Burl – Isn’t there a well known problem within the Hawaiian public school systems with the native Hawaiians and the outsiders, primarily military brats? Based solely on race.

  6. Doug Ross

    Crawford already backed off his statement., saying he should have used different words in hindsight. Gutless.

  7. bud

    I don’t know about racism but sexism is alive and well in the United States senate. Did anyone see Senator Cruz lecturing Diane Feinstein about the Constitution yesterday? The issue at hand was Feinstein’s bill to ban certain types of firearms. But rather than argue the bill on it’s merits Cruz decided instead to launch ing a condescending and insulting lecture regarding the bill of rights. Seriously does senator Cruz actually believe that there are NO exceptions to the rights granted by the bill of rights? To claim otherwise makes him look like a blathering idiot. But of course he knows better; he graduated from the Harvard Law school, but he was trying to make a point for the benefit of his right-wing supporters by attempting to demean a long-term senator simply because of her gender. What a piece of work that guy is. And by the way, Senator Feinstein knows better than anyone in the senate the horrors of gun violence having witnessed the shooting of the Mayor and City Manager of San Francisco 30+ years ago. We still have a long way to go to eradicate racism and sexism in the country. Senator Cruz proved that yesterday.

    1. Bryan D. Caskey

      “And by the way, Senator Feinstein knows better than anyone in the senate the horrors of gun violence having witnessed the shooting of the Mayor and City Manager of San Francisco 30+ years ago.” -bud

      So you’re saying her position is based on PTSD? Also, those two guys were shot with a .38 revolver – not “weapons of war”. Just sayin’.

      Sen. Cruz simply asked Sen. Feinstein a legal question. Nothing condescending about it at all. He didn’t claim there are “no exceptions to the bill of rights”. Where did he reference her gender?

      Did we watch the same exchange? Which part was condescending?

      1. Bryan D. Caskey

        Here’s the Quote from Sen. Cruz:

        “The question that I would pose to the senior senator from California is Would she deem it consistent with the Bill of Rights for Congress to engage in the same endeavor that we are contemplating doing with the Second Amendment in the context of the First or Fourth Amendment, namely, would she consider it constitutional for Congress to specify that the First Amendment shall apply only to the following books and shall not apply to the books that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights? Likewise, would she think that the Fourth Amendment’s protection against searches and seizures could properly apply only to the following specified individuals and not to the individuals that Congress has deemed outside the protection of the Bill of Rights?”

        It’s just a legal question. Lighten up, Francis.

        1. Scout

          Inferring from his question that he likely believes in few, possibly even, – no – exceptions to the bill of rights is not a far stretch.

      2. Kathryn Fenner

        No, he’s saying she knows what she is talking about. No one suggested PTSD! Straw man alert!

    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Yeah, I was kinda wondering that, but I didn’t hear him. Seems to me he’d be more likely trying to “demean” her on the basis of her party than her gender. But as I say, I missed it.

      Now “Smell the Glove” — that was demeaning on the basis of gender…

    3. Steven Davis II

      So bud, have you see the pictures of Gabby Gifford shooting the exact weapons she’s wanting banned?

      Feinstein is just an old bag who needs to retire.

  8. Mark Stewart

    Doug, the world doesn’t work that way. Don’t call him gutless. Gutless here is something entirely different. In the same way, one can’t start “naming names.”

    This isn’t a question of being politically correct; it is a question of appropriate human interaction. People require, and deserve, a more adroit touch.

  9. Brad Warthen Post author

    Here’s another case where Doug is daring everyone to say something libelous about an individual, and if we don’t, we’re supposed to shut up.

    Doug thinks this way because he doesn’t think in terms of systems or dynamics, just in terms of what individuals do. He makes it sound as though the world is made up of people who are racist and people who are not racist, and that the distinction is as clear as if the individuals had chosen to flip a light switch off or on. As though everything were a toggle switch.

    What he misses is that the General Assembly, and any other body elected by single-member districts, is an institution constituted on the basis of race. When we speak of a district being drawn to be Democratic or Republican, in South Carolina, we’re talking about the proportions of black and white voters in those districts.

    We draw districts in a way that sends a clear signal to the people elected from them: You are elected to represent white people, or you are elected to represent black people. This is seen most clearly and simply in our SC congressional districts. We draw one super-black district, and it takes so many black voters out of the other six districts that they all become safe Republican districts. This says things about voters, and about the parties, that one ignores at the risk of completely failing to understand SC politics.

    Now the truth is, there is more that black and white people have in common than there is anything that separates them. But many of the very hottest, bitterest issues are the ones on which white voters tend to vote one way, and black voters tend to vote another. (We would be far, far, better off if districts were drawn with no consideration given to race, party or incumbency. If that happened, you’d see practical solutions on issues of interest to all South Carolinians emerge from the Legislature.)

    A representative doesn’t have to think about race in order to vote according to race. He can honestly say that he hasn’t a racist bone in his body. He’s simply voting the way his constituents want him to vote. The thing is, though, his constituency is DEFINED by race; there is probably no greater factor considered when drawing the district.

    That’s one thing. The other factor here is about Obama. We can argue forever about whether the particular antipathy that his name, his face, the fact that he is present stirs in a huge portion of the white electorate in South Carolina is about race. Many of us recognize that there’s a certain emotional edge to people’s feelings on the matter that is very much like the emotions we’ve encountered in overt instances of racism in the past. There’s a certain intensity there. It’s like a smell, or a flavor — things that Doug will dismiss with contempt, because they don’t satisfy his engineer’s mind. But they are recognizable things, the way a face is recognizable to those of us who don’t think in terms of the constituent parts of a person’s face. I see somebody, and I know that’s John Doe. But if you ask me whether he has a broad or thin face, or his eyes are set close together or far apart — those things I don’t notice. This sort of thing works like that.

    This Republican representative leaps to a conclusion about why there is so much antipathy toward Obama. A lot of us see how he gets there. Some don’t.

    1. Steven Davis II

      Another example of “if you don’t agree with Brad, you’re wrong”. Better get that ego in check Brad.

      The Democratic curtain you’re hiding behind is starting to open. You don’t call yourself a Democrat, but everyone who knows enough about you does.

  10. Doug Ross

    George Wallace was a racist, right? Or would it be too polite to call him that?

    It’s a pure cop out to say that certain elected officials cast their votes not because they
    are racist but because the people who elect them are. There are plenty of poor white
    folks who would be impacted by the Medicaid expansion decision, aren’t there? Hundreds
    of thousands of them, right? Are they just collateral damage in the attempts to keep the
    black man down? How do you reconcile that?

    My view is that people care more about HOW their government spends its tax dollars than
    WHO it spends them on.

    Do you seriously think that the 22 states that are rejecting the Medicaid expansion are
    all doing so because white people hate a black president? That’s nuts.

    1. Kathryn Fenner

      Just because you aren’t racist, doesn’t negate that others are, perhaps unawares.

  11. bud

    Sen. Cruz simply asked Sen. Feinstein a legal question. Nothing condescending about it at all.

    No, what Cruz was doing was proclaiming that he understands the constitution and those on the left do not. That was not a serious question. And it certainly didn’t rise to any sort of standard for civility. He is wrong of course. There are exceptions to all of the first 10 amendments. And he damn sure knows that.

    1. Bryan D. Caskey

      “No, what Cruz was doing was proclaiming that he understands the constitution and those on the left do not.” -bud

      Where did he assert that? Specifically, please.

      “That was not a serious question.” -bud


      “And it certainly didn’t rise to any sort of standard for civility.” – bud

      How so? Specifically, what part of that question was not civil? He even referred to her as the “senior senator from California”. That’s formal, respectful, and in keeping with Senate protocol. Maybe you can answer the question bud. The senior senator from California certainly didn’t even try to answer the question. She simply talked about how long she had been a senator.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        … which, of course, is how she GOT to be the “senior senator.”

        Which is entirely different from the way I got to be the blogger. Here’s how that happened: The Lady of the Lake, her arm clad in the purest shimmering samite, held aloft an iPad from the bosom of the water, signifying by divine providence that I, Brad, was to carry it. THAT is why I am your blogger…

  12. Bryan D. Caskey

    By the way, I found it humorous that the senior senator from California (a non-lawyer) was lecturing Sen. Cruz on the D.C. vs. Heller case. Before he was a senator, Cruz was actually the lawyer for the 31 states who were amicus on the case.

    It’s (in part) HIS case!

  13. Bryan D. Caskey

    Oh, and to answer the question Cruz posed, Congress DID try to carve out what was/wasn’t acceptable books/media/speech in 2002. It was called McCain-Feingold. Anyone remember how SCOTUS ruled on that one? Hint: Citizens United.

  14. Bryan D. Caskey

    Also, I’m fascinated that the senior senator from California thinks bullets can implode. Does she think there is fissile material in the bullets or a tiny vacuum chamber? I would have pressed her on that.

  15. Bryan D. Caskey

    In one corner we have Ted Cruz, a Harvard educated Constitutional lawyer who has authored more than 80 Supreme Court briefs and presented more than 40 oral arguments, including nine before the Supreme Court itself, he also served as law clerk for Supreme Court Justice William Rehnquist.

    In the other we have Dianne Feinstein, who has been in the Senate for decades, and before that, saw two guys get shot.

      1. Bryan Caskey

        I thought y’all wanted to have a “discussion” about guns and gun control.

        When someone asks a legitimate legal question, Senator Feinstein gets all offended and doesn’t answer the question, bud says the question is “not serious” and calls the questioner “uncivil”, then Mark starts calling the questioner names.

        Bless your hearts.

        I guess it’s easier than putting together a coherent legal position for a law you’re proposing.

        1. Mark Stewart


          I think I made my point. And it wasn’t about name-calling. I don’t think that has ever been something that I have fallen back on.

          While I try to write clearly and succinctly, my thought process is far more allegorical. I’m often not linear, though I strive to be cogent, and I have found that the most difficult part of rhetoric is listening. But I guess that last part’s pretty common.

          1. Bryan Caskey

            “I think I made my point. And it wasn’t about name-calling. I don’t think that has ever been something that I have fallen back on. ” -Future Law-Breaker Mark

            You certainly did make your point. Your point was that you were not interested in an actual, substantive, reasoned debate about the Constitution, and viable restrictions and exceptions thereto as enacted by Congress in pursuit of a public policy goal.

            Your point was that you were interested in name-calling. Around here, when you call someone a “troll”, it’s name-calling. Traditionally, name-calling is the province of 3rd grade girls who lack a certain depth of knowledge about the Constitution. Name-calling doesn’t make you a bad person. It just marks you an intellectual lightweight.

          2. Mark Stewart

            Well, now I’m amused.

            So I will readily admit that I do “lack a certain depth of knowledge about the Constitution”; however, I do tend to offer some thoughts on the “viable restrictions and exceptions thereto” anyway (I guess I’m just like that). Usually I do weigh in after considering another’s line of thoughtful inquiry.

            I contribute because I enjoy the discourse here, and I value and have learned from the contributions of many.

            For what it is worth, Paul Ryan is a Senate leader. Dianne Feinstein is a Senate leader. Lindsey Graham could be a Senate leader (if he didn’t revel in playing palace games so much). Ted Cruz is not a leader. Bryan, if you are looking for a role model, look elsewhere.

          3. Bryan D. Caskey

            Politicians are pretty much the last place anyone should look for “role models”.

            Maybe you could explain why Senator Cruz asking a legal question makes him a troll. Or maybe you could explain how the proposed AWB is consistent with the second amendment and Heller. Senator Feinstein certainly couldn’t.

            If it’s not, what other restrictions/regulations do you propose that would be both constitutional and desirable public policy?

  16. Doug Ross

    Here’s some data that pretty much destroys the Medicaid race issue:


    Distribution of the Nonelderly with Medicaid by Race/Ethnicity, states (2010-2011), U.S. (2011)

    South Carolina White recipients: 45% Black recipients: 45%

    In North Carolina, another “Conferederate” state rejecting the Medicaid expansion, white recipients outnumber black by 43% to 35%. Virginia, another Dixie whistling, Obama hating state, also is 43% to 35%.

    So we are to believe that all these Republican governors are going to reject Medicaid expansion because it helps blacks?

    1. Scout

      Doug, I’m glad you like facts. I do too. And I appreciate that you find and share them. But unfortunately, these facts don’t help your case against the premise that there are those in power that dislike Medicaid because they perceive it as helping a class of people who don’t help themselves when they could and they also perceive that this class is predominantly of a certain race. The premise is that they think of medicaid as mostly helping blacks – emphasis on ‘think’. What matters here is not the actual facts but their perception of the situation. That is what drives their behavior. Yes, I know we have many poor whites in SC. I see and work with them everyday. I file medicaid for speech services for them, so I know they are on medicaid. But the people with these beliefs do not see and work them everyday. They live removed from the reality of poverty in SC and maintain their false beliefs despite the facts that you point out, and they act according to their false beliefs.

      1. Doug Ross

        But it’s not about class, Scout. Brad says it is because of race. Brad wants us to believe that on the issue of Medicaid expansion, Republicans vote against it because they want to carry out the racist wishes of the constituents who elect them. This, despite the fact, that since half of the recipients are white and would (allegedly) benefit from Medicaid expansion, that these same politicians would ignore that fact and (allegedly) harm the people who would vote for them. It makes no sense whatsoever.

        It may be about class, but it’s not about race. And its really about a collecting and spending tax dollars. South Carolina whites hate the federal government more than they hate blacks (allegedly).

        1. Scout

          I probably shouldn’t have used the word “class” up there. I didn’t mean it in that sense – I just meant it to mean a group of people, in this case, the group is the same as race.

          I agree it makes no sense whatsoever. But there are a lot of things that people do that make no sense – it doesn’t change that people do them.

          I really do think racism on some level is involved. It may not be as simple as “Republicans vote against it because they want to carry out the racist wishes of the constituents who elect them”. At least – I don’t think it is that on a conscious level. I think it is more like the representative and their constituents are similar in their attitudes and respond in similar ways, but may not be consciously aware that they are acting on racist motivations. It’s a subtle deep seated thing.

          I kind of think the fact that it doesn’t make sense supports that their judgement is clouded by something as irrational as unacknowledged racism. If they didn’t have an emotional interest in not seeing it, they would recognize the facts you point out. But the really weird thing is some of those white medicaid recipients probably have these same attitudes and don’t even realize that their positions are not in their own best interest. I have seen it up close and personal. It is bazaar. It’s like they have a filter for how they view the world and their filter ascribes a position for themselves in their worldview that is not in synch with reality. If you try to point out this simple and obvious contradiction to them, they stare at you like it does not compute or just continue to refute it beyond all reason.

          Your arguments would work if people were completely rational beings but we have a whole hemisphere of our brains devoted to the irrational. It’s part of us and our behavior. We do things that don’t always make rational sense.

  17. Doug Ross

    And if it is too dangerous/litigious to name a racist Republican, how about naming the Republican districts that are dominated by racist attitudes. We won’t blame their representatives for doing what the people expect.

    Let’s start with Bobby Harrell. Here’s what he said about the matter (and what he thinks counts more than most):

    “If more money and more government produced healthier citizens, Americans should be the healthiest population on the planet – but we’re not. The current system is clearly broken but instead of trying to fix this broken system, Obamacare simply makes it bigger. Unlike the unsustainable new spending of Obamacare, we have proposed real solutions that use existing resources to target more effective health options that will actually improve the health of our citizens. We knew the HHS section of the budget is where Obamacare supporters would make the strongest push to opt-in and we stood strong against this multi-billion dollar expansion.”

    Are there racial code words in there that he uses to let the people of 114th District know that he’s doing their bidding on keeping blacks down?

    1. Scout

      No, I don’t hear any racial codewords, and I don’t know Harrell well enough to know what his motivations truly are. But I do know that people in general are quite capable of coming up with reasons they think they are doing things when their true motivations may be deeper and may not even be consciously known to them. So the fact that there are not overt racial codewords in this statement doesn’t prove or disprove what Harrell’s true motivations may be. Like I said I’m not saying that Harrell has racial motivations because I don’t know him. I’m just saying the lack of racial codewords in his statement doesn’t prove he does not have racial motivations. People are too good at rationalizing for us to draw such black and white conclusions just from what they say.

      1. Mark Stewart

        Yes they are. Now that’s a clear, unnuanced statement; people rationalize and bury their own motivations from themselves first of all. Too often….

        1. Doug Ross

          And that would apply to those pushing for Medicaid expansion as well? Could it be there is some underlying racism there as well – for example, “I know these poor black people will never be able to take care of themselves so we must do it for them.”

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