Politicians tread on clubs' privacy at their own risk

July 20, 2005|By Gregory Kane

EARTH TO Lt. Gov. Michael S. Steele: The admission policies of the Elkridge Club are none of your business.

Earth to Gov. Robert L. Ehrlich Jr.: They aren't any of your business, either.

Steele finally fessed up Saturday on a local radio show and acknowledged that the Elkridge Club's paucity of black members did indeed bother him.

"The symbol of this club, in 2005, grates" with blacks, the lieutenant governor said. "I would encourage Elkridge and others to reconsider their policies, that are stated or unstated, and recognize that Maryland is a very diverse community with a lot of potential, and we shouldn't cloud or hamper that potential with this kind of foolishness."

You could almost hear the inspiring hum of "We Shall Overcome" in the background as Steele was saying this.

Ehrlich spokesman Gregory Massoni said that "the lieutenant governor speaks for the governor, and what he says speaks for us."

Steele's remarks were prompted by Ehrlich's holding a fund-raiser at the Elkridge Club. Some folks - mainly Democrats, which is downright laughable, given their particular take on racial politics - chastised the governor for daring to raise campaign dough at a restrictive club.

Montgomery County Executive Douglas M. Duncan, in classic political posturing masquerading unsuccessfully as righteous indignation, fired off a missive to Ehrlich that demanded the governor apologize for holding the fund-raiser at the Elkridge Club. Ehrlich's failure to apologize, ranted Duncan, "is a slap in the face to all fair-minded Marylanders."

Let's see what Democrats regard as "fair-minded," shall we?

The Elkridge Club - which is private and whose members happen to be white - is not fair because it doesn't have any black members. But the Congressional Black Caucus and Congressional Hispanic Caucus get to be not only, by definition, exclusive, but they get to do it on the taxpayers' dime.

Those police officers and firefighters who belong to this black professional organization or that one aren't called on to be more inclusive. Apparently, that's required only of private, all-white organizations.

That is precisely why government officials - like, say, governors and lieutenant governors and county executives - ought to pull their noses out of the business of private organizations. But government officials can't bring themselves to do that because they're the ones who have been muddling the meaning of privacy for the past 30-odd years.

It was politicians who told us that the 1973 Roe v. Wade Supreme Court decision was based on privacy. The government had no business, they told us, interfering with a woman's right to choose or not to choose an abortion. The ruling was in its infancy when some of those same politicians told us that the "right to privacy" entitled women and girls to a publicly funded abortion.

Some of those politicians were Republicans, but most were Democrats. Duncan is a Democrat. I hate to keep driving that point home, but Democrats are who they are and Duncan is who he is. And it is Democrats who, for the most part, have been the ones hopelessly confused about the meaning of privacy. And they're the ones who are downright hypocritical on the issue of race.

When was the last time you heard a Democrat chide the Congressional Black Caucus for being racially exclusive? The truth is, you haven't. There's a reason for that. The CBC has been a predominantly Democratic organization since its inception. If County Executive Duncan ever gets to be Gov. Duncan, you can bet that when he talks about racial exclusivity being a "slap in the face" to fair-minded folks, he won't have the CBC in mind.

And you can bet that the Elkridge Club's admission policies are at least as "fair-minded" as the "affirmative action" admission policies at the University of Michigan Law School, which several years ago rejected a white woman named Barbara Grutter.

Grutter was in her 40s, had a grade point average of 3.8 and a Law School Admissions Test score of 161 out of a possible 180. She also had two teenage sons at the time and ran her own business. In short, she was the very model of "diversity" that liberals claim to cherish.

It helped her not one iota. When her lawsuit claiming that she had been denied equal protection under the 14th Amendment reached the Supreme Court, justices ruled that Grutter - and white and Asian students similarly situated - had no 14th Amendment rights.

Democrats are primarily the ones who support racial preferences that they have the nerve to call "affirmative action." Until they change their tune about that, the Doug Duncans of the party should leave the Elkridge Club alone.

And so should two Republicans by the names of Steele and Ehrlich.

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