Yes, Senator Joe Donnelly (D-IN) did say this in yesterday’s debate with Republican opponent Mike Braun and Libertarian Lucy Brenton:
“Our state director is Indian American, but he does an amazing job. Our director of all constituent services, she’s African American, but she does an even more incredible job than you could ever imagine.”
Yes, what you just read is an intentional attempt at pandering to minorities, to get their votes.
But no, Joe Donnelly’s use of the word “but” was not meant to convey that these two minority staff members were expected to be inferiors and surprised him with their competence…as is being suggested by a good many Braun-supporting websites.
The context in which Senator Donnelly said those words clearly showed he didn’t mean it that way; that it was a clumsily-worded attempt to compliment them, not to say “wow who would have thought an Indian American and African-American could be this good”. This, I think, is proven by what he said immediately afterwards:
“It isn’t their race or their religion, it’s the incredible person that they are. But at the same time, they have to have a chance. They have to have an opportunity, and that’s my responsibility. And I’ve done it in every office I’ve had, and I’ve done it in every campaign I’ve had, because my campaigns and our Senate office should reflect the face of Indiana.”
Besides, basic common sense tells us that, even if Donnelly did feel this way, he wouldn’t have said it out loud in a debate.
I certainly can understand why some Republicans and conservatives would want to seize on this opportunity to perform an unfair hit job on a Democrat, given how many are performed on them.
But that doesn’t make the hit job on Donnelly any less unfair.
How I wish both sides would give it a rest, for once and for all.