Indirect, But Obvious
A Tea Party Victory Fund ad (video immediately below) asks "Have Barack Obama's policies empowered or enslaved Americans?"
Lee Atwater, this Wikipedia entry reminds us, was the GOP strategist who in 1981 explained
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can't say “nigger” — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states' rights and all that stuff. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I'm not saying that. But I'm saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.
Digby thus argues "Lee Atwater would be scratching his head over this. He thought they'd have to be much subtler by this time."
But Lee Atwater was prescient. Consider the model of obfuscation and prevarication, the ex-governor of Massachusetts himself:
There are 47 percent of the people who will vote for the president no matter what. All right, there are 47 percent who are with him, who are dependent upon government, who believe that they are victims, who believe that government has a responsibility to care for them, who believe that they are entitled to health care, to food, to housing, to you name it. That that's an entitlement. And the government should give it to them. And they will vote for this president no matter what. And I mean, the president starts off with 48, 49, 48—he starts off with a huge number. These are people who pay no income tax. Forty-seven percent of Americans pay no income tax. So our message of low taxes doesn't connect. And he'll be out there talking about tax cuts for the rich. I mean that's what they sell every four years. And so my job is not to worry about those people—I'll never convince them that they should take personal responsibility and care for their lives. What I have to do is convince the 5 to 10 percent in the center that are independents that are thoughtful, that look at voting one way or the other depending upon in some cases emotion, whether they like the guy or not, what it looks like. I mean, when you ask those people…we do all these polls—I find it amazing—we poll all these people, see where you stand on the polls, but 45 percent of the people will go with a Republican, and 48 or 4…
FactCheck.org sets out the history of the current program, SafeLink, which has its origins in The Telecommunications Act of 1934 and the 1996 Telecommunications Act, which created the Universal Service Administrative Trade Company, an independent not-for-profit corporation set up by the FCC. The specific, demonized program, which in no way involves President Obama, was created under President George W. Bush with grants from the USAC, which is sustained by funding from telecommunications companies. It is operated by TracFone Wireless of Tampa, Florida, a subsidiary of America Movil.
Whether by Tea Party extremists, the GOP apparatus, or the Romney campaign, the effort surely is to divide Americans from each other. Tonight, President Obama needs to drive home that message. Mitt Romney may be ready for an attack from Obama for the infamous remarks at a Boca Raton fund-raiser. But he would have a hard time explaining to the American people why he believes Social Security recipients and soldiers in combat should have to pay federal income taxes and don't "take personal responsibility and care for their lives." It presents a clear opening for the President, as do Mitt Romney's offshore accounts, apparent GOP plans to balance the federal budget by eliminating the mortgage interest tax deduction, and the Republican ticket's hostility to women's health care.