It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it

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Sean Conner admitted that he felt pretty lonely. The young man said being a black Republican is “the hardest thing in the world to be.”

Conner, the outreach press secretary for the Republican National Committee met twice with members of the Trotter Group of black columnists in Washington, D.C., last week. It’s not that the crowd was unfriendly. I’d say we were curious about the GOP’s plan –- if it has one –- to become more inclusive, to regain the progress the party made under President Bush but lost in this year’s presidential campaign. In a year that saw monochromatic crowds at John McCain and Sarah Palin rallies yell “terrorist” at the mention of Barack Obama’s name, minorities weren’t buying what the GOP was selling.

Conner blamed the economy for his party’s defeat. Fair enough. But it was more than that.

At the Democrats’ Denver convention this summer, I was struck by the diversity of the delegates –- whether the measure was race, age or physical ability. Watching the Republicans in Minneapolis, I hardly saw any brunettes. The TV cameras tried to search for some color, but always seemed to come back to the same black guy.

That doesn’t stop Conner on his lonely quest. He is confident that Joe the Plumber will soon be joined by “Jamal and Joaquin.” The way to minorities’ hearts and minds, according to Conner, is an appeal based on conservative social issues –- gay marriage and abortion. Conner’s new plan was simply returning to the same wedge issues that didn’t work this year.

The GOP once had a moderate wing; my parents were proud members. Now Republicans find themselves searching for that big tent it used to advertise. The “party of ideas” seems to have run out of them.

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