Considering that the Washington Post regularly runs columns by the likes of Eugene Robinson, E.J. Dionne, and Dana Milbank — few of which I read — I’m hesitant to declare any Post op-ed its dumbest ever. Yet this piece by Colbert King, which argues that Mitt Romney may well be the new Andrew Johnson, surely is a strong contender.
Johnson was the racist president who succeeded Abraham Lincoln. Johnson tried to enable the former Confederate states to reenter the union without protection for freedmen’s rights, and he vetoed key civil rights legislation, including a bill that granted citizenship to freedmen. He also opposed the Fourteenth Amendment. Johnson famously wrote: “This is a country for white men, and by God, as long as I am President, it shall be a government for white men.”
King presents no evidence that Mitt Romney is a racist. He points to no federal civil rights legislation that Romney has opposed, much less would attempt to repeal. He points to nothing in Romney’s record as governor of Massachusetts that suggests hostility to civil rights for African-Americans or unwillingness to enforce their civil rights.
What, then, is the basis for King’s idiotic assertion of similarity between Romney and Andrew Johnson? King relies on the fact that, like Johnson, Romney believes in “states rights” and “mistrusts” the federal government.
But Andrew Johnson is hardly the only American president who believed in states rights and mistrusted the federal government. The same can be said of Thomas Jefferson, Ronald Reagan, and many of the presidents who came in between. Why compare Romney with Johnson, rather than Jefferson and Reagan? The answer lies in King’s intellectual dishonesty.
King’s only other argument on behalf of his comparison is that Romney “stood by as Republican-controlled state legislatures passed voter-identification laws making it harder for people of color. . .to exercise their fundamental right to vote.” King presents no evidence that such laws impose an undue burden on “people of color” and he ignores the argument that the laws are an appropriate method of preventing voting fraud. In any case, it is obscene to compare the post-Civil War Black Codes to legislation requiring voters to prove they are who they say they are.
King concludes by asserting that, as president, Romney would take his lead from Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, Ann Coulter, and Fox News, since they “helped him get where he is today.” Of this group, only Coulter, to my knowledge, worked to help Romney “get where he is today” — i.e., the Republican nominee. And, of course, a great many other, less conservative figures than Limbaugh, Hannity, and Coulter have also helped Romney. Former Secretary of State Rice comes to mind.
In any event, King offers no evidence that any of his pantomime villains resembles Andrew Johnson, either.
But being a mindlessly liberal Washington Post columnist means never having to present evidence.