During the holiday break (at least it was my holiday break, maybe not yours) snooty elitist New York magazine published an article by Joe Hagan about his adventures aboard the post-election National Review cruise on the S.S. Brutally Disappointed where he documented passengers – who ranged in color from alabaster to eggshell white as long as they stayed out of the noonday sun – commiserating with each other over
the failure of the Republican party to woo enough of the dusky horde over to their side of the aisle in the previous weeks election.
Some key scenes:
Then, at 3 p.m., the group gathered into the Showroom at Sea, a three-tiered amphitheater decorated in a bright-red Art Deco style, for the first of several sessions deconstructing the loss. Onstage were Reed, now in lime-green pants embroidered with pink swordfish and navy polo shirt with white piping on the collar; and Scott Rasmussen, the pollster who consistently overrated Romney’s chances of winning the election. Rasmussen blasted the assembled Republicans with one crushing statistic after another. The exit poll data, he said, “create a negative brand image of the Republican Party as a party that only cares about white people.”
The audience murmured unhappily.
“And that image is hurting among the youth,” he continued. “It is hurting across the culture. It is something that has to be addressed across the party. It has to be addressed. You can’t just wish it away.”
Reed expanded on the theme. “You can’t run and win a national election in an electorate that is becoming decreasingly white and increasingly minority and lose 80 percent of the minority vote,” he said. “That math just doesn’t add up.”
Rasmussen offered some friendly advice about approaching minorities. “You show them that you really care, you talk to them as grown-ups on a range of issues, you get them involved,” he suggested, “and you accept the fact that it’s a long-term investment. And you accept that you can learn as much from them as you can teach them.”
This was harsh medicine to reluctant patients, and afterward some of them made their discomfort known. “That depressed me!” one woman said. To my right, a man snapped, “That’s bullshit!”
The man was Bing West, former assistant secretary of Defense under Ronald Reagan, a former Marine and a National Review contributor.
West, mocking Rasmussen, said: “If you stupid Republicans weren’t so goddamn bigoted you would have won the election!”
His wife, Betsy, who bears a resemblance to Nancy Reagan, patted him on the back and apologized on his behalf, saying, “I don’t know why he said that. He’s usually not like that.”
I met a man near the railing who was there as a caregiver for a 70-year-old National Review cruiser from Palm Desert, California. He was gay and seemingly liberal and had come on the cruise only to push his boss around in a wheelchair. As he smoked a cigarette, he recounted a conversation the two had about the ship’s largely Indonesian and Filipino staff.
BOSS: You notice none of the workers are white.
CAREGIVER: Except the managers upstairs.
BOSS: Well, that’s the way it should be.
Then, this happened:
The last event before cocktails and dinner was a lecture by Deroy Murdock, the only black National Review speaker. It was a curious outlier on the agenda, titled “How the Music of Memphis and Motown Helped Bury Jim Crow,” and set in a smaller, more intimate venue midship. Murdock was wearing a red satin dinner jacket and a black bow tie, presumably to look like a Motown singer. About 50 people attended, sitting on white leather lounge chairs, and there was a Rolling Stones tongue logo on a screen behind him as he cued up “Brown Sugar” on the sound system.
Murdock got the all-white crowd clapping along, including the venerable neoconservative intellectuals Norman Podhoretz and Midge Decter, who smiled broadly.
“Brown Sugar! / How come it tastes so good?”
When the music faded, Murdock, in a studious tone, read from his prepared notes: “It’s only rock and roll, but we like it!”
In his reading of racism in America, Murdock highlighted Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who he said promoted segregation in 1936. “He, of course, went on to great fame and fortune afterward,” he observed.
The Democrats, explained Murdock, have been “very active in keeping black people down” from 1860 to … 2012. “Go ahead and applaud if you agree with that,” said Murdock.
The audience sat up and clapped hard.
It is not clear whether the audience was agreeing that the Democrats were responsible for keeping the black man down or if they wholeheartedly approved of it. To be safe, let’s assume “probably both”.
But the real prize goes to Southern Belle Melissa O’Sullivan, wife of NR editor John O’Sullivan who triumphantly punches up a story about chatting up a snooty Austrailian nun with an “I should have said…” moment:
Melissa O’Sullivan, the Alabaman wife of John, wasn’t buying the idea that Republicans had alienated minorities. “We’ve invited them to join us!” she insisted.
Susan from Princeton granted that the Republican Party is “lily white and it’s a problem and it is messaging and Mitt Romney screwed up royally.”
But Ms. O’Sullivan again took umbrage. As everyone went silent, she recalled a conference she attended in Australia in which a liberal nun (who “didn’t even have the decency to wear a habit”) criticized America for its “inner-city racism.” Offended, Ms. O’Sullivan recounted what she wished she’d said to this nun:
“Pardon me, madam, but I have been in your country of Australia for ten days and the only Aborigines I’ve seen have been drunk on the street, and at least if we were in my country they would be serving the drinks at this conference!”
Brava! Everyone! A toast! “M-Fer, I want more iced tea!“on the Lido deck ….