Pas Devant Les Enfants, Tampa: Custer’s Last Stand

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AUGUST 28, 2012

Pas Devant Les Enfants, Tampa: Custer’s Last Stand

“We respect the tribal governments as the voice of their communities and encourage federal, state, and local governments to heed those voices in developing programs and partnerships to improve the quality of life for American Indians....”

GOP draft platform, “Honoring Our Relationship With American Indians

 

Earlier this month I wrote, under the rubric Pas Devant Les Enfants (“not in front of the children”) about the Romney campaign’s successful effort to keep nearly all of Romney’s primary opponents away from the podium in Tampa. “The GOP’s leading lights are so extremist, or weird, or just plain dim,” I observed, “that they must be stashed away in the attic, like the first Mrs. Rochester.” Initially, only Santorum was to speak; now, apparently, Gingrich has been given a spot (to share with his wife Callista). Perry, Cain, Bachmann, and Paul remain in the attic, and Trump, who was scheduled to speak, now joins them up there, having been preempted by Tropical Storm Isaac

But that’s just the presidential primary candidates. The GOP has a whole army of Mrs. Rochesters, and there's no attic big enough to accommodate all of them. I therefore inaugurate a convention-week Plank series spotlighting off-message Republican rantings that subvert the Romney campaign’s best efforts to pretend the Republican party hasn’t gone completely berserk.

Please welcome as our first honoree Pat Rogers, a recent member of the Republican National Committee executive committee who remains active in New Mexico’s Republican party. Earlier this month an e-mail surfaced in which Rogers complained to top aides to New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez, a Republican, about Martinez’s recent attendance at a meeting with a group of Native Americans tribal leaders (at an annual tribal-state summit that the governor is required, by law, to attend). In the email, Rogers wrote: “Quislings, French surrender monkeys, secret supporters (all along) of JAJ [i.e., Janice Arnold-Jones, a 2010 primary opponent of Martinez’s]. The state is going to hell. Col. [Allen] Weh[, another primary opponent,] would not have dishonored Col Custer in this way.” 

Rogers subsequently told the Albuquerque Journal that he meant it as a joke. “I made a poor attempt at humor in a private email, and it’s being twisted,” Rogers said. “I certainly intended no offense, but I do apologize.”

Rogers probably did mean it as a joke. But it's pretty bewildering, in a state like New Mexico—which harbors, many, many Native Americans—that the mere fact of a meeting between a governor and some Native Americans would occasion even humorous comment, especially from a longstanding citizen of said state, not some stranger passing through. A person who, moreover, is political figure of some prominence, therefore acquainted, one would think, with the imperative not to create needless offense even to a small constituency, much less a large one like ... Native Americans. 

Do you know a Pas-Devant-Les-Enfants off-message GOP inanity that we should reprint? If so, please forward under the heading “Enfants” to timothynoah@tnr.com. Nominated comments must be recent, and a link must be provided to a reputable source. Preference will be given to crazy stuff said by people actually attending the convention.

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posted in: timothy noah, politics, rochester, tampa, callista, mitt romney, pat rogers, new mexico, republican party, republican party, the plank

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