I’m teaching the baby how to play Honeymoon Bridge. Not that I think he and his guirrel friend are likely to go on a honeymoon soon. They’re still in their teen months, and both agree they’re too young for marriage. But contract bridge is a fun game, and the two-player variant is easier to teach because you don’t have to learn the details of partner bidding. It’s also easier to get two players than four, so we’re starting with Honeymoon Bridge.

Bridge is a subtle game, and a key part of the strategy is judging when to lead trump cards. If you have enough, you can drag out all of your opponent’s trump cards. But if you don’t have enough depth elsewhere to finesse your opponent’s other high cards, you can easily lose enough tricks to miss your bid. The baby understands the general idea, but applying it in practice is still iffy.

Last week Iowa conservatives and some Republican presidential candidates ran into the same problem.

For a half-century, racism has been the Republicans’ trump suit. While today’s religious right focus mostly on banning abortion, demonizing LGBTs, and subordinating women, that movement emerged to oppose regulations limiting racially segregated religious schools. From Richard Nixon’s “Southern Strategy,” to Ronald Reagan’s “States’ Rights” speech in Philadelphia, Mississippi, to framing health care reform as “reparations” for slavery, to the recent blizzard of anti-immigrant laws, Republicans play the race card anytime they can.

Last week, they played their trump suit again, this time on marriage:

Slavery had a disastrous impact on African-American families, yet sadly a child born into slavery in 1860 was more likely to be raised by his mother and father in a two-parent household than was an African-American baby born after the election of the USA’s first African-American President.

That was the preamble to the Marriage Vow offered by the FAMiLY Leader. They say the lower-case i emphasizes “individual submission.” Guess which “individuals” that means.

I say that “was” the preamble because they decided to take it out, saying:

After careful deliberation and wise insight and input from valued colleagues we deeply respect, we agree that the statement referencing children born into slavery can be misconstrued, and such misconstruction can detract from the core message of the Marriage Vow: that ALL of us must work to strengthen and support families and marriages between one woman and one man. We sincerely apologize for any negative feelings this has caused, and have removed the language from the vow.

Here we go again. Republicans play the race card, then yell foul or “sincerely apologize” if anyone calls them on it. That way they can appeal to racists yet passionately deny being racists.

Here’s a thought. Next time apply that “careful deliberation” and seek “wise insight and input” before you play the race card. Better yet, bid another trump suit. That one is losing.

And it’s about time.

Good day and good nuts.