Ira Hansen: Hapless Victim?

Victim Card “For the greater good of the State of Nevada and the cause I support it is necessary for me to withdraw as Speaker Designee. The tens of thousands of people who both read my columns and listened to my radio shows through two decades in the media know this has been a carefully orchestrated attack to remove a conservative Republican from a major leadership role in State government. The deliberate character assassination and the politics of personal destruction have totally distorted my views and record.” Ira Hansen (R-NVA39) [RGJ]

Merciful Heavens what a whine!  Better still, it has all the hallmarks of a classic Victim Card – there’s the “carefully orchestrated attack” line, and the “deliberate character assassination” line, and finally the “politics of personal destruction” canard.   All the ingredients deemed necessary to include in a perfect recipe for a Great White Whine.

An additional element which makes Hansen’s announcement even more interesting is that, as usual, none of the GOP powers-that-be actually called for his resignation:

“Lt. Gov. Mark Hutchison, State Senate Majority Leader Michael Roberson, R-Henderson, and state Sen Greg Brower, R-Reno, joined the GOP leadership choir in condemning Hansen’s views Friday. None of them, including Sandoval Heller or any prominent Nevada Democrat, have called for Hansen’s ouster.” [RGJ]

This certainly isn’t the first instance in which a Nevada Republican has strayed into the weeds of the Neo-Confederacy.  Assemblyman Jim Wheeler (R-NV39) was ever so willing to vote in favor of slavery, if that’s what his constituents wanted him to do. [LVSun 2013]  Gee whiz, he just couldn’t fathom how anyone might have mis-interpreted his words.  Wheeler remains in the Assembly.  Congressman elect Cresent Hardy opined, that GOP candidate Romney was right about those 47% “takers,” although neither the statistics or the context substantiate the claim [LVRJ] and, no, SNAP benefit recipients aren’t driving their Escalades down to the food pantry – a riff on the Cliven Bundy assertion about African Americans in Clark County – who would be “better off” learning to pick cotton.  Hardy will take his seat in the Tea Party Caucus in January.  What’s different now?

Just perhaps the reason Mr. Hansen faced such powerful opposition was not for some ill-timed, ill-advised, and ill-meaning commentary but because his was predicated on a history of Limbaugh Wanna Be rhetoric which if dribbled out over time threatened to box the Nevada GOP into its already convenient container. Consider the support Mr. Hansen received from one conservative activist:

“Hansen has his supporters. Conservatives in the Nevada GOP are rushing to his aid even as party leaders are condemning Hansen’s comments.

“Why should any Republicans give a damn about what the NAACP thinks?” said conservative activist Chuck Muth of Las Vegas. “They don’t vote for our candidates. That is not who our base is.” [RGJ]

Nothing says Old White Guys quite so succinctly.  

Assemblyman Hansen represents a district (32) which is predominantly white (83.7% compared to the statewide 73.5%), with a mode household income between $50,000 and $75,000, and has a 48.2% to 29.7% Republican registration edge. [NVLeg pdf]  These are people who quite possibly don’t care what the NAACP thinks, or what any other ethnic or minority population might think either.   Mr. Hansen’s strength in Assembly District 39, his appeal to Old White Guys disgruntled with the possibility of women, members of the Hispanic/Latino community, and African Americans taking positions of political, economic, and social power, is also a fatal weakness when dealing with a state in which the African American population is 8% (unlike the 1.4% in the district) and 26.1% Hispanic or Latino compared to the 17.4% in the district.  The statewide figures, which are almost irrelevant for the local campaigns, could be deadly when placed in a statewide context.

Assemblyman Wheeler (NV32) may continue to represent his constituents, so long as he doesn’t commit another gaffe of the first water, and Congressman Hardy may take his place in the Gohmert Caucus, so long as he keeps his head down and doesn’t make a pilgrimage to the Bundy Ranch.  However, when there’s the prospect of inflammatory opinion columns ranging from 1994 to 2010 – every attempt at outreach beyond the Old White Guys Box by the Republicans can be countered by the Top Ten Latest Revealed Quotes from the pen and pixels of Mr. Hansen.

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