Thursday, May 19, 2011

The Party Of Gingrich And Palin

David Gregory to Newt Gingrich from Sunday's Meet The Press (transcript here):

You gave a speech on Friday in Georgia, and you said the following about this president:

You want to be a country that creates food stamps , in which case frankly Obama 's is an enormous success. The most successful food stamp president in American history . Or do you want to be a country that creates paychecks?

First of all, you gave a speech in Georgia with language a lot of people think could be coded racially-tinged language, calling the president, the first black president , a food stamp president.

Oh, come on, David .

What did you mean? What was the point?

That's, that's bizarre. That -- this kind of automatic reference to racism, this is the president of the United States . The president of the United States has to be held accountable. Now, the idea that -- and what I said is factually true. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps . One out of every six Americans is on food stamps . And to hide behind the charge of racism? I have -- I have never said anything about President Obama which is racist.

Well, what did you mean?

Well, it's very simple. He has policies -- and I used a very direct analogy. He follows the same destructive political model that destroyed the city of Detroit.

I had hoped to avoid the trifling controversy sparked by Newt Gingrich's obvious effort to bring race into the discussion of unemployment in the nation. One Friday the former House Speaker calls the black President "a food-stamp president. Two days later, he is called on it and, just so GOP primary voters know what he's talking about, he refers to "the same destructive political model that destroyed the city of Detroit." And he does so without explaining what that "destructive model" would be, leaving even less doubt that he doesn't care what this "model" is.

Perhaps he was referring to Detroit's status as having the second largest black population per capita of any major American city. Gingrich could have referred to Gary- the one city with a greater percentage of blacks- but a lot of people, including those primary voters, have no idea where Gary even is.

That does not make Gingrich a "racist" which, according to this excellent definition, is "a belief or doctrine that inherent differences among the various human races determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one's own race is superior and has the right to rule others." That "inherent differences" element, admittedly, sets a high bar to hurdle, but that's why "racial prejudice" is an important concept.

Gingrich cleared that bar with ease. But it's not surprising that members of the the GOP, a party with no answer for high unemployment and little interest in finding one, would revert to the Southern Strategy initiated by presidential candidate Richard Nixon and perfected by Republican presidential candidate Ronald(6) Wilson(6) Reagan(6).

Sarah Palin couldn't resist, contending

Well, talk about racism, that was a racist tinged question from David Gregory. He made it sound like if you're black, you are on food stamps and the President is referring to you as being on food stamps. I think that's racist.

Palin's comment fits in well with what Digby refers to as the GOP's "'I know what you are but what am I' politics." She cites "Andrew Breitbart insisting that if you call them out on their racism it makes you a racist" and this from the less conservative!) Senator from South Carolina:

“When Mr. Liu came to the Judiciary Committee and said that, basically, Judge Alito’s philosophy judicially takes us back to the Jim Crow Era, that to me showed an ideological superiority or disdain for conservative ideology that made him in my view an ideologue,” Graham told reporters off the Senate floor.

Digby observes "In other words, all criticism of conservatives is illegitimate. It's a neat trick."

Rivaling "I know what you are but what am I" politics is the "I was against it but now I'll take credit for it politics," which Gingrich illustrated when on MTP he claimed

I mean, I helped balance the budget for four straight years. We did it by cutting taxes and bringing the unemployment rate down to below 4 percent.

Gingrich is referring to the budget for fiscal years 1998-2001, all budgets for which President Clinton was responsible, which produced a surplus only when the Social Security trust fund was included..... budgets which were balanced only with a huge upper-income tax increase promoted and signed by Bill Clinton, which every Republican in Congress voted against, and which spurred then-Minority Leader Gingrich to vow

This is the Democrat machine's recession, and each one of them will be held personally accountable.

But since the Clinton Administration brought the largest sustained economic expansion in modern American history and Newt Gingrich was in the House of Representatives at the time, he now "helped balance the budget for four straight years"- despite fighting the policies which were responsible.

That doesn't have much to do with racism, racial prejudice, or Sarah Palin. But it is a reminder that racial bias is only a small part of the nonsense which has become routine in that party.

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