Friday, January 06, 2012

Their True Colors

Automated outrage is unseemly from wherever it originates.  When one of Romney's boys repeated a dumb joke (badly, just like Dad) that included reference to President Obama's birth certificate, it ignited the automated furor, demands that he repudiate the idea, etc.  The kid apologized for repeating a bad joke.  Whatever it says about the Romney family attitude, I doubt he even knew what he was saying.  The reaction seemed disproportionate.

But not to recent statements by Rick Sanctimonius and Gingrich.  Rick was recorded saying,  "I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money.”  When he was called on it, he denied saying it.  Here's a link--hear it for yourself.  It's pretty clear he said "black people."

The importance of this is underscored by a statement on Wednesday by Gingrich. "More people are on food stamps today because of Obama’s policies than ever in history....And so I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps."

This is I believe a key to the entire Rabid Right frenzy of this year.  What they are saying is that in these hard times, black people are being favored with government handouts, which hardworking and hard-pressed white people are paying for in high taxes.  A black President is creating a culture of dependence for black Americans, which is destroying the moral fiber of the country.

It doesn't matter that President Obama talks repeatedly about jobs and providing opportunities for all Americans to "go out and earn the money."  Or his nearly continuous praise for Americans "who work hard and play by the rules," and his emphasis on making it possible for them to earn a middle class life.  Or that any increase in food stamps or other support (including unemployment insurance) has to do with people losing their jobs and losing income, mostly as a result of the economic collapse that was the direct consequence of eight years of Republican mismanagement and misrule, and has no racial component whatever.  Except perhaps that black women are harder hit than other Americans, since they've suffered less discrimination by working in social services, teaching and other jobs that are being cut because the one sector where jobs are still being lost is government jobs.  Not government handouts---government jobs.

So first the facts, as summarized by Think Progress: "The majority of people who participate in the food stamp program, known as the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP), are white. Most of the participants are also either children (who can’t earn a paycheck unless Gingrich gets his way) or seniors who are of retirement age. In 2010, working-women represented only 28 percent of SNAP beneficiaries, and working-age men represented only 17 percent.  What’s more, an increasing number of SNAP beneficiaries actually do have jobs and receive paychecks that are the primary source of their income. Unfortunately, only 15 percent of those incomes are above the poverty line."

This by the way was true in the 1980s and 90s, when Gingrich last pulled this particular trick.  It is on the whole the oldest racist trick in the book, next to all black men are rapists and killers.  It works especially well when lower middle class whites are especially hard-pressed.  There has to be someone to blame, so instead of blaming the 1% for stealing the country's wealth and shipping jobs to slave labor overseas, they are guided by the 1% to blame non-whites. 

I am convinced more than ever that the GOP is deliberately inflaming the lower middle class white anxiety about a black President, and attempting to follow those flames to take over Washington.  It's really all of a piece.  The call for Obama's grades, even the contempt for him because he uses a teleprompter (just like G.W. and everybody else), which are dog whistle appeals to the racist image of blacks as stupid.  Romney's entire campaign is predicated on pushing this: Obama is too dumb to govern, he's screwed it all up.  White people--ALL white people-- are therefore smarter, and the smart white voters should be smart enough to vote for the rich white politicians, who will give enormous tax breaks to their fellow rich white people so that they will provide jobs for their fellow whites of the lower middle class.  So even if some whites are getting food stamps or Social Security or Medicare, well, it's those black hordes who are ruining it by taking unfair advantage.  And Obama naturally is taking care of them, because they voted him in.

This is what all the GOPer presidential candidates are saying, almost without saying it.  Although Rick and Gingrich are coming very close to saying it all out loud.

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