Time for a “Southern Strategy”

In what is, no doubt, a sign of increasing desperation driven by Mitt Romney’s perpetually lousy poll numbers, conservatives from across the media spectrum have, in recent days, turned to their old standby strategy. When things get tough, naked appeals to racism might just do the trick:

The first to pick at our nation’s freshest scab was “reasonable” conservative George Will, who in an October 1 column titled, Can Romney turn this contest around, compares Barack Obama to Frank Robinson, the first black manager in major league baseball:

Obama’s administration is in shambles, yet he is prospering politically. This may not, however, entirely be evidence of the irrationality of the electorate. Something more benign may be at work.

A significant date in the nation’s civil rights progress involved an African American baseball player named Robinson, but not Jackie. The date was Oct. 3, 1974, when Frank Robinson, one the greatest players in history, was hired by the Cleveland Indians as the major leagues’ first black manager. But an even more important milestone of progress occurred June 19, 1977, when the Indians fired him. That was colorblind equality.

Managers get fired all the time. The fact that the Indians felt free to fire Robinson — who went on to have a distinguished career managing four other teams — showed that another racial barrier had fallen: Henceforth, African Americans, too, could enjoy the God-given right to be scapegoats for impatient team owners or incompetent team executives.

Elsewhere in the column Will expresses surprise that conservatives’ attempts to manufacture scandals from Solyndra, Tesla Motors, and from the ashes of the U.S. consulate in Beghazi, have not gained traction with the U.S. public. The only possible explanation?

…the nation, which is generally reluctant to declare a president a failure — thereby admitting that it made a mistake in choosing him — seems especially reluctant to give up on the first African American president.

And so, in just as many words, George Will christens Barack Obama the affirmative action president, a man who is on track to be re-elected to the presidency of the United States, not because he is the better candidate, but because he is the blacker one.

Now, it could be that Americans have brushed off the Solyndra affair by noting that investments fail all the time, despite the best hopes of the investor, and absent any real evidence of intentional corruption, they would rather a president who took a chance promoting new industries than one who advocated allowing entire sectors of the economy to go bankrupt. It could be that the American public is excited by the potential of products like Tesla Motor’s electric cars and General Motors’ Volt, despite the best efforts of the right-wing media to portray these innovations as wasteful boondoggles forced on U.S. industry by a government that naively thinks that the best way for U.S. companies to prosper is to look forward to tomorrow’s technologies, rather than remain mired in technologies of yesterday. It could be that after 10 years of seemingly endless war in Iraq, and Afghanistan, the American public is no longer particularly shocked by a terrorist attack on an overseas government installation. But no, George Will is certain that only white guilt can explain the presidents’ continued appeal.

Elsewhere in the festering world of right-wing media, a more overtly, nakedly racist coordinated appeal to white voters has taken shape as the Drudge Report, The Daily Caller and Fox News are all currently running bold headlines decrying a 2007 speech that Barack Obama gave on the subject of Hurricane Katrina, and the neglect that the City of New Orleans suffered in its wake. Fox News breathlessly reports:

…in the address, delivered during the upswing of the Democratic presidential primary season, candidate Obama specifically criticizes in outspoken terms the decision not to waive a federal law known as the Stafford Act that requires communities hit by disasters to match 10 percent of federal aid.

“When 9/11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act. … And that was the right thing to do,” he tells the crowd at Hampton University in Virginia. “When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with your own money. Here, here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not going wait for you to scratch it together, because you’re part of the American family.’ ”

Obama, echoing rapper Kanye West’s infamous anti-Bush remarks a couple years earlier, then argues that New Orleans was treated differently, suggesting the reason was that the city is mostly black.

“What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?” Obama says. “Makes no sense. … Tells me that somehow the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much.”

Yes, echoing rapper Kanye West… that rapper… that black rapper!

But, of course, there’s more to the tape. The speech, delivered at an African American congregation also features moments in which the future president shockingly praises his own pastor… the notorious… wait for it… the inglorious…. wait for it… Jeremiah Wright!

And so Fox and the Daily Caller have dredged up an old video recording of a speech that was extensively covered in 2007 (this was, after all, given in the run up to the Democratic primaries) to once again dredge up the memory of Jeremiah Wright and inject the issue of race into a campaign that has, thus far, been about everything but race.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, The Daily Caller is even less reserved in it comments, less veiled in its appeal to white racism as it characterizes Obamas words and tone thus:

The racially charged and at times angry speech undermines Obama’s carefully-crafted image as a leader eager to build bridges between ethnic groups. For nearly 40 minutes, using an accent he almost never adopts in public, Obama describes a racist, zero-sum society, in which the white majority profits by exploiting black America. The mostly black audience shouts in agreement. The effect is closer to an Al Sharpton rally than a conventional campaign event.

An “accent he almost never adopts in public” appears to be the Caller’s way of warning White America that this seemingly post-racial, pleasant sounding, well-spoken, polite black man is, in fact just a well-disguised black thug. Don’t be fooled, White America, don’t let him fool you we know the truth. Kanye West, is also invoked, of course, in the context of Obama’s criticism of the Federal government’s refusal to waive Stafford Act requirements:

“Now here’s the thing,” Obama continues, “when 9-11 happened in New York City, they waived the Stafford Act — said, ‘This is too serious a problem. We can’t expect New York City to rebuild on its own. Forget that dollar you gotta put in. Well, here’s ten dollars.’ And that was the right thing to do. When Hurricane Andrew struck in Florida, people said, ‘Look at this devastation. We don’t expect you to come up with y’own money, here. Here’s the money to rebuild. We’re not gonna wait for you to scratch it together — because you’re part of the American family.’”

That’s not, Obama says, what is happening in majority-black New Orleans. “What’s happening down in New Orleans? Where’s your dollar? Where’s your Stafford Act money?” Obama shouts, angry now. “Makes no sense! Tells me that somehow, the people down in New Orleans they don’t care about as much!”

It’s a remarkable moment, and not just for its resemblance to Kayne West’s famous claim that “George Bush doesn’t care about black people,”

And oh, did you notice the pattern here? The word “black” in the above passages does not actually appear in the quoted sections. The president never directly alludes to Kanye West. These are editorial embellishments, meant to make the speech sound more divisive to white ears.

And so the Right, having been deprived of all its usual powers of rhetorical persuasion by an American public that simply doesn’t care for its candidate or its message, is left with little more than naked appeals to racism. That’s their new game-plan. It’s their last hope. Even the “reasonable” ones, like George Will are taking refuge in it.

23 comments:

9:56 am • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

I’m so worried about Peggy Noonan.

10:23 am • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Benedick: I hear she’s under police protection.

10:52 am • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

Even Headley Lamarr and Mr Taggart put up a stronger fight than this.

I’m guessing that there is some serious morale/enthusiasm issues on the GOPer side right now.

11:02 am • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

Best drinking game suggestion I’ve seen so far: every time Romney smirks. Then call in sick tomorrow.

11:13 am • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

- The talk show created the fool

11:28 am • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Dodgerblue:

Unless they’re awfully kind with the editing, more like “call in *dead* tomorrow”.

12:17 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Dodgerblue: @al2o3cr: I’ll be playing debate bingo. Here’s a preliminary list to choose from (suggestions welcome):

wife/children/grandchildren = “beautiful”
“reach across the aisle” or close variants thereof
“Obamacare”
“47 percent”
voter suppression/enthusiasm
Karl Rove/Sheldon Adelson/Koch Brothers
refers to any Super PAC by name
Domino’s/Staples/other big Bain success stories
Salt Lake City Olympics
“You had your time to respond” or close variants thereof
“I will remind the candidates again…” or close variants thereof
refers to specific down-ticket races
President Bush
President Clinton
“Simpson-Bowles”
refers to using scalpel, not hatchet/ax/machete to cut spending
asks other candidate to name specific tax deduction to be cut
“nation-building here in America” or close variants thereof
“Great Recession”
refers to other candidate by first name
refers to other Republican primary candidates by name
“Better off than you were four years ago” or close variants thereof
China = “cheaters”
man-made global warming
“energy independence”
ANWR/off-shore drilling
Wall Street/Main Street dichotomy
Supreme Court case other than Citizens United
calls out specific member of Supreme Court for praise/criticism
refers disparagingly to Boehner/McConnell/Pelosi/Reid
“too big to fail”
Ben Bernanke
debt ceiling
quantitative easing
new G.I. bill
“Let Detroit Go Bankrupt” or close variants thereof
“12 million jobs”
medical marijuana
“end Medicare as we know it” or close variants thereof
rape/incest/health exceptions to banning abortion
religious exemption to birth control coverage requirement
math and science/STEM
DREAM Act
refers to uninsured receiving medical care in emergency room
endorses any form of gun control
Yes We Can/No I Can’t/Hope and Change
“marriage equality”
“one man, one woman”
“the American dream”
“the American people”

12:36 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@mellbell:
“Solyndra/K.B. Toys”
Medicare and $700 billion
Libya/Benghazi/Amb. Stephens
Rev. Wright
Joseph Smith/Brigham Young
Seamus
Bo
Oprah
The View
Chicago-style politics
Red Sox
White Sox
Nationals/Redskins
Birth certificate/Tax returns
Off-shore investments
Off-shore birth
Jay Z
“You were for it before you were against it”
Ronald Reagan
Abraham Lincoln

1:54 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Beggars Biscuit:

Economy.

2:00 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@BobCens: Is that what they’re calling locking yourself in the Conservatory with a bottle of sherry and 1000 milligrams of Klonopin nowadays?

2:44 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Tommmcatt May Just Have Some MJ In His System As Well, So What?: No, that’s an editorial board meeting at the WSJ.

2:48 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@mellbell: Ann Romney having MS.

4:06 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Dodgerblue: Michelle’s sleeveless dresses

@mellbell: Bonus shot if Mitt calls him “Barry”

ADD: Faith. Lord. Jeezuz. God blessed.

4:38 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

+1000 points for Mittens if he leads off with, “I think these debate podiums are just the right height”. +2000 points if Obama does it instead and then Romney smirks.

4:45 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@texrednface: 3000 points for Mitts if he refers to FLOTUS as “foxy.”

4:58 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Dodgerblue: I would give almost anything to hear Mittens call her “That fine mocha sugar mana”.

5:16 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@al2o3cr: @Dodgerblue: @Tommmcatt May Just Have Some MJ In His System As Well, So What?: ShellyO will figure in somehow tonight, what with the wedding anniversary and all. The question is whether Barry leads off with it, or Mittens scores an early “Warmth” power boost by congratulating the happy couple during his opening remarks.

5:22 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Beggars Biscuit: I almost included “Romney pointedly refers to how much longer he and Ann have been married (forty-three years, bitches!),” but I figure even he’s not that dickish.

5:27 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@Tommmcatt May Just Have Some MJ In His System As Well, So What?: I’d have to empty the bottle for that one.

5:34 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

Debate open thread at 8:30pm ET, while you’re stocking up.

5:59 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

The first thing to watch for is how they walk out to the podium.
After eight years of watching Goofy walk around his balls like he just got down off a horse (or out of a jet) I am very aware of how these two men walk.
Obama has a confident stride. Manly.Comfortable in his body and his pants.
Romney walks from his knees, like a girl. Afraid something might jiggle and that it will be noticed.

6:11 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@texrednface: Have you considered the dampening effect, so to speak, from the Magic Underwear?

6:43 pm • Wednesday • October 3, 2012

@texrednface: He does mince about. I like that in a man.

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