Unmasking flip-floppers and grifters!

So, are we witnessing a race to the bottom or a dash to the top? Me, I don’t know how best else to characterize the hypocrisy – a mix of incredulity and vaudeville – that’s providing fodder for late night TV and side-splitting caricatures. However we define it, unfortunately it fuels distrust and a distaste for politics.

Now what I’m talking about here are the suspected motivations – power, money, prestige, whatever, whatever, whatever – on the part of those vying for public office, or just a day of recognition. I’m talking about your garden variety political “flip-floppers” and the growing number of shameful “grifters.”

Let’s begin with the “flip-floppers” since, arguably, they created the boilerplate for power hungry “grifters” to latch onto.

The fact is the Republicans have for years been quick to criticize Donald Trump, and just not in public. Behind the scenes and occasionally in public, many lashed out at the former president’s iconoclastic personality, personal controversies, hostile demeanor, claims that the 2020 election was stolen and more. Those who stood on principle in calling him out (au revoir Liz Chaney, Michael Steel and Adam Kinzinger) were quickly jettisoned from the party since they refused to humiliate themselves with ring kissing apologies.

Here are a few instances of Republicans who amplified anti-Trump messages in the past, only to reel them back later and vow to support him in the next election.

“Donald Trump is America’s Hitler. He’s a coward.”  – Senator J. D. Vance

“Trump is a kook, racist and con man.” – Senator Lindsey Graham

“Trump is a hot head by nature who would break more things than he fixes. The thing about Donald Trump is that he lacks the character and the moral center we desperately need again in the White House.” – Mike Johnson, Speaker of the House

“Donald Trump is a sniveling coward, a big, loud New York bully, a pathological liar. He combines it with being a narcissist, a narcissist at a level I don’t think this country’s ever seen.”  – Senator Ted Cruz

Now what’s laughable – and quite telling – is how each one of them experienced a “come to Jesus” moment on realizing the former president’s bulldozing charge to the White House with mealy-mouth variations of “Yes, I said that before I got to really know him.”  Watching them on TV kowtowing and groveling in the presence of an ex-president they previously lambasted says it all, leaving the fair-minded public wondering how on Earth did they sink from the heights of castigating to the bowels glorifying.

Okay, flipping to the other side, to the Republican African American “grifter.”

After leaving the musical, “The Preacher’s Wife,” we navigated our way to Pasquales Restaurant, one famous not only for its southern cuisine but as the meeting place where Dr. Martin L. King Jr. and his team planned civil rights strategies and campaigns. Multiple black and white pictures of Dr. King hang on the walls, images that leave you feeling that he’s in the next booth enjoying his oxtails, sweet potatoes and collard greens as much as you’re enjoying yours.

Which brings me to Clay Cane’s new book, “The Grift…The Downward Spiral of Black Republicans from the Party of Lincoln to the Cult of Trump.” Now if there’s such a thing as context-setting language that lets the reader know what a publication is all about, it’s this in the introduction to Cane’s book:

“Every minority and every people has its share of opportunists, traitors, freeloaders and escapists.” – Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

So, what’s a “grifter?” Writes Clay, “Technically a grifter is a con artist or scammer. In other words, a hustler or sellout. I define grifters as opportunists who shape-shift for personal gain to achieve proximity to power. Yes, there are grifters of every background in all political parties, but the Black Republican grift is on an insidious rise.”

Although he bristles at the pejorative terms “coons,” “Uncle Toms,” “house negroes” and “bootlickers” to broadbrush all Black Republicans, Cane reaches back into history in citing Black grifters, among them Gary Franks, who served in Connecticut’s Fifth District and Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas, both of whom were against Affirmative Action and other programs designed to benefit women and people of color. In later pages he calls out Trump VP wannabes Senator Tim Scott, Congressman Byron Donalds, Dr. Ben Carson, the late Herman Cain and other grifters, chief among them the media-hungry Candace Owens.

“Black Republican grifters appeal to a constituency within the GOP who are eager to feel assured that they’re not racist,” asserts Cane.



Now while on the subject, inarguably the contemporary grifter who is by far the most powerful is Clarence Thomas who was confirmed as the second African American on the Supreme Court, the great Thurgood Mashall being the first. The difference between the two in judicial priorities is like day and night. Thurgood Marshall fought in small courtrooms, mostly in the South. He was the chief legal architect behind landmark civil rights gains.

By contrast, Clarence Thomas’ nomination to the Supreme Court was confirmed despite riveting testimony from Anita Hill and statements from other women. His claim that he was a victim of a “high-tech lynching” froze the Judiciary Committee. Since his elevation to the nation’s highest court, Thomas has been a reliable vote in upholding voter suppression, ending Affirmative Action (a program that got him into college and law school) and rolling back abortion rights.

While Marshall was in hot courts fighting for the rights in Africans in the South, Thomas was galivanting around the world in private jets and puffing on cigars on million dollar yachts while greatly enriching himself with over $4 million in gifts from his billionaire buddies since 2004.

Okay there you have it, the unmasking of flip-floppers and grifters. So imagine, if you will, a two-sided coin with the words “flip-flopper” on one side and “grifter” on the other. Now flip the coin to see who goes first in a race to the bottom of the barrel of self-abasing dishonesty.

Well, all bets are off because it’s gonna be too close to call.

Terry Howard is an award-winning trainer, writer, and storyteller. He is a contributing writer with the Chattanooga News Chronicle, The American Diversity Report, The Douglas County Sentinel, Blackmarket.com, recipient of the 2019 Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Leadership Award, and third place winner of the 2022 Georgia Press Award.


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