Brett Kavanaugh Isn’t Clarence Thomas, but It’s Still About Race

OPINION — Orrin G. Hatch, the Republican senator from Utah, is nothing if not consistent.

His words about distinguished lawyer and professor Anita Hill in 1991 — when she testified in the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings before the Judiciary Committee on which he sat — were clear. He said there was “no question” in his mind that she was “coached” by special interest groups. “Her story’s too contrived. It’s so slick it doesn’t compute.” Hatch mused she may have cribbed some of her testimony from the novel “The Exorcist” — the horror!

And when considering current nominee Brett Kavanaugh — sitting, as Thomas was, on the verge of a lifetime appointment to the Supreme Court — Hatch had this to say about professor Christine Blasey Ford, who has accused Kavanaugh of sexual assault when she was 15 and he 17: “I think she’s mistaking something. But I don’t know, I mean, I don’t know her.”

Midterms Show We’re Not Any Closer to a Post-Racial America

OPINION — Remember the time when Trent Lott got in a heap of trouble for remembering the time?

It was 2002, and the Senate Republican leader representing Mississippi was waxing nostalgic for what he considered the good old days at a 100th birthday celebration for South Carolina Sen. Strom Thurmond. Carried away by the moment — and in remarks that recalled similar words from 1980 — Lott said: “When Strom Thurmond ran for president, we voted for him. We’re proud of it. And if the rest of the country had followed our lead, we wouldn’t have had all these problems over all these years, either.”

No surprise that those for whom Thurmond’s 1948 presidential run represented the bad old days objected. Segregation was the heart of the platform for Thurmond’s States’ Rights Democratic Party (a.k.a. the Dixiecrats).

This Is Not Your Father’s Bible Belt. Can Dems Make It Theirs?

OPINION — There’s a series of striking images in a televised ad for Dan McCready, who is seeking to represent North Carolina’s reliably conservative 9th District in the U.S. House of Representatives. It puts the candidate’s military record and faith front and center — not entirely surprising for someone vying for voters in a swath of the state that includes an affluent section of Charlotte, as well as parts of rural counties all the way to the Fayetteville area, with its strong military presence.

In the ad, McCready stands with his troops as an announcer states that after 9/11, he “was called to serve his country.” Then the scene shifts, and the narrative continues to describe the Marine Corps veteran as finding another calling when he was baptized “in the waters of the Euphrates River.”

He is the Democrat in the race.

Trump to the Rescue (Maybe) in North Carolina

OPINION — When Donald Trump travels to North Carolina this week, it won’t be for one of the campaign-style rallies that are his oxygen — especially needed now when the air is filled with praise for his nemesis John McCain, who is being lauded in death in terms the president can only dream about.

This Friday in Charlotte, host of the 2020 GOP convention and with the Trump National Golf Club not that far away in Mooresville, the president is scheduled to make a lunchtime appearance at a country club for an audience of those willing and able to pay at least $1,000 ($25,000 will get you admission to a “roundtable” and a photograph with Trump). It is a party with a purpose: to raise enough cash to keep two possibly vulnerable House seats in Republicans hands.

Whether Church or State, Powerful Men Are Letting Us Down

OPINION — It is not a good time for those who want to believe — in their faith or in their government. No one expects any institution to be perfect, particularly those that are large and complicated. But why do so many have to be perfectly corrupt, spurring cynicism in those once so willing to give the benefit of the doubt?

When Spike Lee’s Art Is More Real Than a White House Reality Show

OPINION — It was deliberate and fitting that “BlacKkKlansman” opened a year after the deadly march of white supremacists in Charlottesville, Virginia. It is not too much of a spoiler to say that director Spike Lee goes there in the telling of the improbable true story of an African-American police officer who, in the late 1970s, infiltrated the Ku Klux Klan in Colorado.

The film brings the lessons of the not-so-tall tale up to the present, to this 2018 moment. That includes an appearance from a youthful David Duke, who still appears whenever and wherever racial hate rises up.

In a parallel universe that purports to be real life but more closely resembles a twisted fantasy, Donald Trump managed one weak tea of a tweet marking the anniversary of the march, with a message that condemned “all types of racism,” pushing false equivalency and failing yet again to acknowledge the seriousness of neo-Nazi and Klan sentiment and action that caused the death of Heather Heyer.

Trump’s Culture War Is Entering Its Scorched-Earth Phase

OPINION — President Donald Trump is crediting his raucous Ohio rally for propelling Troy Balderson over Democratic challenger Danny O’Connor in a U.S. congressional special election that is officially still too close to call. But what if his fiery rhetoric and the image of a sea of angry faces, attacks on the media and signs supporting the murky QAnon conspiracy actually derailed what should have been an easy Republican victory?

Obama’s Push for More Female Leaders Gets Help From Men Acting Out

OPINION — Former President Barack Obama has not been a headline fixture since he left office. In fact, with a few exceptions, the opposite has been true, maybe because he feels it’s better to keep his political distance in this partisan time or because he’s holding off in order to make a greater impact when he decides to speak up. But last week, Obama did make a bit of news when he encouraged more women to take leadership rolesbecause “men have been getting on my nerves lately.”

Obama certainly could have been talking about certain men who were particularly vexing during his own time in the White House, and have continued to bedevil Democrats (Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, for starters).

But he did not have to take a stroll down memory lane.

Opinion: Charlotte Gambles on the Convention Las Vegas Didn’t Want

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Vi Lyles, the Democratic mayor of the largest city in North Carolina, said championing a bid to host the 2020 Republican National Convention was likely “the most difficult decision of my career.”

As word spread this week that Republicans have chosen Charlotte over other candidates, with a formal announcement due Friday, it’s almost certain the event will be one of the city’s biggest tests.

Opinion: Dems to African-American Women: This Time We Mean It

So why was Tom Perez, chair of the Democratic National Committee, making an appearance at this year’s Essence Festival in New Orleans, an event known for its high-powered mix of music, culture and empowerment, geared to engage black women globally? Did he see and enjoy “Girls Trip,” the 2017 mega-hit about the reunion of four black female buddies, set against the backdrop of the festival, and decide to get in on the fun, maybe take in a Janet Jackson concert?

Or was he connecting with his party’s most loyal base, which has carried the electoral load for years, and has also expressed dissatisfaction when that contribution was downplayed or overlooked?