Friday, July 23, 2004

A bad choice of words
A Republican state representative in Michigan is in trouble for being too honest about the GOP's election strategy.
Democrats on Wednesday denounced a Republican lawmaker quoted in a newspaper as saying the GOP would fare poorly in this year's elections if it failed to "suppress the Detroit vote."

State Rep. John Pappageorge, R-Troy, acknowledged using "a bad choice of words" but said his remark shouldn't be construed as racist.

Pappageorge, 73, was quoted in July 16 editions of the Detroit Free Press as saying, "If we do not suppress the Detroit vote, we're going to have a tough time in this election."

"I'm extremely disappointed in my colleague," state Sen. Buzz Thomas, D-Detroit, told reporters Wednesday during a conference call. "That's quite clearly code that they don't want black people to vote in this election."

Blacks comprise 83 percent of Detroit's population, and the city routinely gives Democratic candidates a substantial majority of its votes.

No doubt, Rep. Pappageorge was thinking of the fine accomplishments by presidential brother Jeb Bush in 2000, when the Florida State Police set up roadblocks around polling places and poll workers turned away voters in predominantly black precincts.

Pappageorge shows his sincerity and values in the phrasing of his apology: "If I have given offense in any way to my colleagues in Detroit or anywhere, I apologize." His apology is aimed at his legislative colleagues, with whom he has to work on a regular basis, not at the voters that he has suggested disenfranchising. Like most political non-apologies, he is only sorry that he has made his work environment more difficult by stating an awkward truth. He does not recognize that the action he endorsed is wrong and un-American.

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