early and often

Tommy Tuberville (Eventually) Admits White Nationalists Are Racist

Ol’ Tubs is outdoing himself these days. Photo: Kent Nishimura/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

As a political writer, I try to remind myself that when it comes to elected officials, all of them got a lot more votes than I ever have, so they probably deserve a modicum of respect. But as a southern white male of a certain vintage, it’s hard to for me to exhibit much patience with Alabama U.S. senator Tommy Tuberville, who epitomizes the image of backwoods ignorance that has blighted my home region for too long. Indeed, ol’ Tubs takes the stereotype to such extremes that it’s hard to tell if he’s just putting us all on.

The former football coach’s latest stunt is a by-product of his deeply irresponsible crusade to hold up military promotions unless the Pentagon stops ensuring abortion access for servicemembers. As a self-appointed expert on the U.S. military, he made it known back in May that he frowns on efforts to discourage “white nationalists” from wearing the uniform, because “white nationalists” are really just “Americans.” Pressed on this position by CNN’s Kaitlan Collins earlier this week, Tubs seemed to be struggling with basic principles of language and logic:

To the extent that there is any thought process discernible behind the senator’s defensive bluster, it seems to be that he believes “white nationalism” is just a Democrat insult for … people like him, as the Washington Post observed in May:

When asked if white nationalists should serve in the military, he responded by asking for the definition of white nationalism.

“You think a white nationalist is a Nazi? I don’t look at it like that,” the senator said. “I look at a white nationalist as a Trump Republican. That’s what we’re called all the time. A MAGA person.”

Now I’m not denying there may be some overlap between “white nationalists” — defined as American nationalists who think the white race and its attributes and accomplishments are essential to the country’s character — and “Trump Republicans.” But to the extent that Tuberville denies any sense of solidarity with racists, and indeed deplores the “identity politics” that is central to white nationalism (as Collins vainly tried to point out to him), it’s weird that he doesn’t simply disassociate himself from white nationalists, which would take him about nine seconds.

Indeed, after senators of both parties — including his Alabama colleague Katie Brittweighed in negatively on the idea that white nationalism per se is A-OK, Tuberville finally said the magic words on Tuesday afternoon:

I don’t know why this was so hard for him. Perhaps he was trying to have it both ways, or maybe the part of his brain devoted to deductive reasoning was crowded with old football play-calls or something. But his staff and his Republicans colleagues should give him a talking-to — and maybe some media training.

More on politics

See All
Tuberville (Eventually) Admits White Nationalists Are Racist