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Did Cliven Bundy 'ruin his cause' by making racist statements?

Bundy dead cattle
Bundy dead cattleLiberty Unyielding

The portion of the above headline in quotes is picked up verbatim from Brian Resnick, who has a column with that title at National Journal. The subhead is “After Bundy's overtly racist remarks, let's see how far politicians run away from him.”

For background on “Bundy’s overtly racist remarks,” see this column by Renee Nal, which ran earlier. (For some background on my reaction to Bundy’s comments, see the comments section of that article and/or keep reading.)

Here is the crux of Resnick’s argument, minus his views that Bundy was in the wrong, which is extraneous to the present discussion:

Conservative and libertarian politicians have been sympathetic toward Bundy's cause, framing his protest as an act of patriotism in the face of an overstepping government….

Expect every politician to back away from the issue.

To aid him in his prediction that politicians will now abandon Bundy and his “cause,” Resnick quotes a number of pols and commentators, specifically Rand Paul, Ted Cruz, and Sean Hannity. He also cites a statement issued by Harry Reid, who, he writes with a straight face, “hasn't had many kind words for Bundy before Thursday.” Reid’s reaction is again irrelevant insofar as he was never in the Bundy camp. Even if Bundy hadn’t revealed himself to be a “hateful racist" (Reid’s formulation) it’s not as though the Senate Majority Leader was evolving into a Bundy supporter.

So what does Resnick use to justify his presumption that Bundy “just ruined his cause”? He quotes Rand Paul, who said, “[Bundy’s] remarks on race are offensive and I wholeheartedly disagree with him.” Resnick was apparently too lazy to reach out to Cruz or Hannity for statements, instead reprinting remarks they made in advance of the revelation that he is “overtly racist.” Here’s Cruz:

[The standoff] is the unfortunate and tragic culmination of the path that President Obama has set the federal government on. [The administration is] using the jackboot of authoritarianism to come against the citizens.

That Renick assumes Bundy’s clumsy commentary on race somehow undermines the arguments implicit in Cruz’s statement or will drive any serious conservative away from efforts to resist Obama’s tyrannical overreach says more about Resnick than it does about his examples.

Let us stipulate that Bundy is a racist. But what of it? How do his views on blacks in any way mitigate or excuse the police state tactics of the Bureau of Land Management, who agents shot and killed at least two of his cattle and Tazed his son?

I certainly hope that Rand Paul and Ted Cruz are made of better stuff than that.

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