The New York Times has greeted the appointment of South Carolina congressman Tim Scott to succeed fellow Republican Jim DeMint in the Senate with an op-ed decrying the selection--and Scott himself--as "token."
Adolph L. Reed Jr., a professor of political science at the University of Pennsylvania, writes that Scott's appointment (by a Indian-American Republican governor, no less) is a product of the GOP's "desperate need to woo...minority voters." Scott will be the first black Republican senator in more than 30 years, the only black senator in Congress next year, and the first black senator from the Deep South since Reconstruction.
"Modern black Republicans," Reed writes, "have been more tokens than signs of progress." Here's more from the op-ed:
Mr. Scott’s background is also striking: raised by a poor single mother, he defeated, with Tea Party backing, two white men in a 2010 Republican primary: a son of Thurmond and a son of former Gov. Carroll A. Campbell Jr. But his politics, like those of the archconservative Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, are utterly at odds with the preferences of most black Americans. Mr. Scott has been staunchly anti-tax, anti-union and anti-abortion.
Even if the Republicans managed to distance themselves from the thinly veiled racism of the Tea Party adherents who have moved the party rightward, they wouldn’t do much better among black voters than they do now. I suspect that appointments like Mr. Scott’s are directed less at blacks — whom they know they aren’t going to win in any significant numbers — than at whites who are inclined to vote Republican but don’t want to have to think of themselves, or be thought of by others, as racist.
Just as white Southern Democrats once used cynical manipulations — poll taxes, grandfather clauses, literacy tests — to get around the 15th Amendment, so modern-day Republicans have deployed blacks to undermine black interests, as when President Ronald Reagan named Samuel R. Pierce Jr. to weaken the Department of Housing and Urban Development, Clarence M. Pendleton to enfeeble the Commission on Civil Rights and Clarence Thomas to enervate the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.