No matter how hard Republicans try and expand their voter base to be more inclusive of minority groups, it seems like there’s always someone in the ranks stepping up to botch the effort.
In March, it was Alaska Congressman Don Young, who used a derogatory term to describe the Latino individuals who worked on his father’s farm. “My father had a ranch; we used to have 50-60 wetbacks to pick tomatoes,” Young said in a radio interview with KRBD-FM.
With fellow Republicans rushing to distance themselves from his remarks, Young released a statement to apologize. “I know that this term is not used in the same way nowadays and I meant no disrespect,” read the statement.
Just as that hiccup in the outreach effort had drifted out of the headlines, a fellow Republican stepped up to fill the void.
On April 17, Oklahoma House Majority Leader Dennis Johnson used his time during a floor debate to discuss effective strategies for small business owners.
There’s such a thing called “niche marketing,” he began. “You find out what you do better than somebody else and that’s what you market.
So far, so good? Seems that way.
“Then you get the reward of success. People come back to you,” he continued. “They like the service they get, and they don’t ask me—they might try to Jew me down on a price, that’s fine. You know what? That’s free market as well.”
In Johnson’s case, we did not have to wait for a written mea culpa for his use of an anti-semitic slur on the House floor. Seconds after making the comment, Johnson is interrupted by an individual off-camera.
After a brief conversation, Johnson reverses course…sort of.
“I apologize to the Jews. They’re good small businessmen as well,” Johnson says.
In a later interview with The Oklahoman, Johnson explained that the comment “came out of one of the wrinkles of my brain and it was not something that was intentional.”
In the same interview, Johnson explains that he grew up hearing the term, but recognizes that it should not be used. Don Young expressed a similar sentiment in the aftermath of his use of the word “wetbacks.”