White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer, for example, was asked at a briefing yesterday about Republicans shutting down Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) when she tried to read a letter from Coretta Scott King about Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.). The press secretary touted Sessions' record on civil rights "throughout his career," and added that he "would hope" that King would support the Alabama Republican if she were alive today.
Given Sessions' actual record, Spicer's rhetoric was difficult to take seriously. Coretta Scott King wrote 30 years ago that Sessions would "irreparably damage" her slain husband's work, and there's literally nothing to suggest she'd feel any differently today.
Around the same time, however, Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) was taking the broader argument in an even more ridiculous direction. The Washington Post reported:
The day after Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) was rebuked while making a speech critical of Sen. Jeff Sessions (R-Ala.), Sen. Ted Cruz blasted Democrats, saying their party is the one rooted in racism.
"The Democrats are the party of the Ku Klux Klan," Cruz (R-Tex.) said in an interview on Fox News on Wednesday. "You look at the most racist -- you look at the Dixiecrats, they were Democrats who imposed segregation, imposed Jim Crow laws, who founded the Klan. The Klan was founded by a great many Democrats."
This followed an incident from last February in which Trump was asked to denounce support he'd received from white supremacists -- and the Republican hesitated.
Perhaps Ted Cruz missed this.
The second problem is the not-quite-as-recent history. As regular readers know, we usually revisit this story about once a year, and in light of Cruz's misguided rhetoric, now is as good a time as any to set the record straight once more.
The Democratic Party, in the first half of the 20th century, was home to two broad, competing constituencies: southern whites with abhorrent views on race, and white progressives and African Americans in the north, who sought to advance the cause of civil rights. The party struggled with this conflict for years, before ultimately siding with an inclusive, liberal agenda.
The Texas Republican may like to believe the party of Barack Obama and John Lewis "the party of the Ku Klux Klan," but there's no reason for any sensible person to take such nonsense seriously.