Keyes Has a Dream
On the day set aside to honor Martin Luther King MSNBC decided
to grace the airwaves with a new show featuring perennial
presidential candidate Alan Keyes. Keyes is one of a small
but visible group of black conservatives who've become showpieces
for the right wing by cozying up to the same type of pols
who did everything they could to keep the ideals of King and
others from becoming a reality.
Keyes is one of those people who makes money by telling the
rest of us what immoral, depraved people we've become. He
wouldn't let woman get an abortion at any time for any reason.
He once said that if we allow assisted suicide "We usurp the
authority that belongs solely to the Creator." Of course he
enthusiastically supports the death penalty (screw the Creator).
Hates gays; loves guns, the whole right-wing routine that
we know so well. At least that's what Keyes says. In reality
it's hard to tell if he believes any of that because his career
has been all about him. Keyes is a hustler.
Keyes was first a college professor and later a diplomat.
He launched his diplomatic career in the Reagan administration.
What seems to have attracted the Reagan people to Keyes was
his status as a black man willing to oppose sanctions on South
Africa. So Keyes political career was built on support for
a corrupt, racist regime that would have thrown Keyes in prison
for a couple of decades if he dared to speak out the way he
Keyes ran twice for the U.S. Senate from Maryland, losing
badly both times but the campaigns proved at least a financial
revelation for Keyes. In his 1992 campaign it seems he paid
himself a rather handsome salary for running. He simply took
it out of the campaign funds that he raised.
This, apparently, is legal if rather unethical. Even Keyes
own staff urged him to stop paying himself because it looked
so sleazy. Keyes refused and continued to line his pockets
with money that supporters gave him so that could tell the
rest of us how immoral we've become. He later refused to pay
back the back debt that his 1992 campaign owed. Of course
the campaign would not have owed the debt had Keyes not paid
himself so well.
Having decided that running political campaigns was a terrific
gig and that it didn't even have to be about winning , Keyes
has now run twice for president. Even though he had trouble
attracting enough voters to get up a poker game Keyes refused
to be deterred. No matter how futile his campaign, the extra
exposure enabled Keyes to increase his lecture fees enormously.
During the 1996 primary season Keyes received only minimal
support for his quixotic candidacy and a the organizers of
one of the debates in South Carolina decided to restrict the
debate to 'major' candidates. Keyes, of course, was not one
of the majors. Incensed, Keyes decided to crash the party
and the organizers had him arrested.
After getting sprung Keyes decided to martyr himself to the
cause of higher lecture fees by going on a hunger strike.
Now even the Klansters in suits who run the modern GOP knew
that they couldn't allow their only African-American Presidential
candidate to starve himself to death publicly because the
party was excluding him from the process (even if it's unlikely
that Keyes would have taken his fast to Gandhi-like levels).
As a result Keyes was soon back in the debates telling us
all what bad people we all are.
In 2000 Keyes repeated his Presidential effort, attracting
about the same level of support (next to none) and stayed
in right to the end. When all the minor candidates had dropped
out Keyes was still participating in the debates even though
he had no chance whatsoever of gaining the nomination.
During one debate the photographer from the New York Times
managed to take the ultimate Rodney Dangerfield picture showing
Bush and Mc Cain debating and excluding Keyes even though
he was seated BETWEEN them. Still Keyes campaigned on even
after Mc Cain dropped out and only conceded in a tersely worded
statement just before the GOP convention. Campaigning is Keyes
hustle. He was in it for the money and the visibility and
he was staying right to the end. His tenacity has now landed
him a TV show.
King dreamed of a world of racial and economic justice. Keyes
apparently dreamed of getting rich. King made some progress
toward his dream in his lifetime. Looks like Keyes did too.