I love James Fallows, but this kind of irritated me:
Here is a third alternative, the one I believe: that Newt Gingrich knows exactly what he is doing when he calls Obama the “food stamp” president, just as Ronald Reagan knew exactly what he was doing when talking about “welfare Cadillacs.” There are lots of other ways to make the point about economic hard times — entirely apart from which person and which policies are to blame for today’s mammoth joblessness, and apart from the fact that Congress sets food stamp policies. You could call him the “pink slip president,” the “foreclosure president,” the “Walmart president,” the “Wall Street president,” the “Citibank president,” the “bailout president,” or any of a dozen other images that convey distress. You decide to go with “the food stamp president,” and you’re doing it on purpose.
If Joe Lieberman had been elected, I would be wary of attacks on his economic policy that called him “the cunning, tight-fisted president.” If Henry Cisneros had or Ken Salazar does, I would notice arguments about ineffectiveness phrased as “the mañana administration.” If Gary Locke were in office, then “the Manchurian candidate” jokes that had been used on Jon Huntsman would have a different edge. And so on. This reader may not recognize it as a dog whistle, but I have no doubt that Newt Gingrich knows what it is. I don’t think that Gingrich has had a racist-style political career; on the contrary. But he knows what this language does. [More on Newt and the racial dog whistle of “food stamp president” from the NYT here.]
A “racist-style career?” Wtf does that even mean? He hasn’t overtly called for segregation or separate water fountains? Maybe this kind of nuanced distinction flies for Fallows and others, but that kind of nonsense falls flat with me. If someone is using dog-whistles and racist-style language to incite voters, create discord in the public, and put differing people at each other’s throats because of some arbitrary amount of melanin, I don’t care what kind of political career they have had. I just don’t.
As far as I am concerned, anyone who does that is a racist asshole, full stop. And I bet you there are any number of people who have followed Newt who could let people know that he actually HAS had a “racist-style” career and that the behavior of the past few weeks is nothing new.
A difference that makes no difference is not a difference, eh?
You are what you do.
Funny. The distinctions between a person who is a racist and a person who says something racist was all the rage around here when Michael Moore opened his stupid mouth.
Conservative political correctness: you can’t call someone a racist unless they say “nigger”.
How can Fallowes pretend that Newt wasn’t always a stone opportunist for whom racist dog whistles as well as futurist and technocratic ones were always his go to sound effects? Maybe he thinks the fact that Newt clearly doesn’t believe any of the shit he spouts makes him “not racist?” Or makes his pandering to whichever corporate interest or party faction he’s courting at the moment somehow merely utilitarian and not reflective of some base-baseline essential Newt? This is the most dopey kind of liberal thinking in which we bend over backwards to avoid seeing what is right in front of our noses.
Also: it is perhaps long forgotten that before Newt Gingerich blamed Susan Smith’s murders of her own children on the liberal left (rather than her sexual abuse at the hands of her GOP stepfather) he and the rest of his tribe were blaming the imaginary black guy she accused of the carjacking. Newt was in full blown Willie Horton mode and simply turned on a dime and started in on the next least favored group when the “natural” accusation that all murders are committed by black men was shown to be patently false.
He’s not a committed racist, perhaps–I’m sure he’d fuck a black person as quickly as he would a white one–but he sure as hell isn’t above using race and racism for political advantage. In fact, he’s quite far below it.
Yes, you are. Regardless of how you actually feel. And regardless of how many [fill in the blank] “friends” you have. As Forrest Gump’s mother might say, “Racist is as racist does.”
He means he’s pretty sure Newt never showed up to a vote wearing a white hood. Therefore totally not racist in his heart, no matter how many massive eruptions of molton hot bigoted magma spew forth from his hell-gate fat mouth.
“And I bet you there are any number of people who could let people know that Newt actually HAS a “racist-style”…career.”
Perhaps what Fallows means is that he doesn’t believe Gingrich has actually built his political career on racism?
Swear to God, back when he had a soul, Dennis Miller had Annie Leibovitz on his HBO show, and he laughed his ass off when Leibovitz joked that “The ‘Contract With America’ is Newt Gingrich’s effort to get all African – American men to serve compulsory jail time before age 30.”
I wish I could find the clip.
Finally, it’s certainly true that Gingrich sold his “Contract” with alot of racist dog – whistling.
Hey, when you’re right, you’re right.
Look– Noot went to college and then went and got a Ph.D. from Tulane, so he’s not going to actually wear a white hood. But, truth to tell, a white man from west Georgia who gets elected to the House of Representatives is guilty until proven innocent. And, while Noot may be various things, innocent isn’t one of them.
does smack of stupid hair-splitting. if you’re going to run with a bunch of racist shit and dog-whistling as a central plank of your campaign i’m going to put you in the same bin as the other racists, even if you’re just trying to get votes out of the rubes.
@joes527: Maybe from some. Certainly not from others.
Racist is as racist does.
But I guess if some asshole ignores the racism from Moore, that makes it okay for Newt to be a racist as well.
That’s some logic you got there. Doing a little dance yet?
Hey Cole –
You gonna be irritable like this until the Steelers win a game? You might consider Jay’s comment/question in #8, and whether your new object of scorn might have meant it that way.
Life’s too fucking short to be irritated at everything, especially at people on your own side of the aisle. And, yes, I agree that Fallows probably should have used his command of the language a lot better, but Jesus H. Christ, get a grip.
I think that Fallows is in shock. It used to be that Newt would say this stuff to certain audiences in certain benighted parts of the country, and when he was back in the Village, act like Villager he was. If questioned about them, Newt could make a pose of cynicism about how he was only giving the rubes what they wanted. He wasn’t really racist, just a panderer. That was before You-Tube publicized those benighted remarks in real time and made them face the truth: Newt really believed that stuff and didn’t care about the fallout from them.
The Other Bob
The MSM is claiming that John King’s question at the debate about Newt’s desire for an open marriage is pushing Newt up in the polls.
Hogwash. S. Carolina is responding to the Newt’s embrace of the southern strategy and his typical racist bullshit. Once the South, always the South.
I think Fallows was just trying to coldly parse racial politics from the personal. It has to do with a lot of mean, crazy and stupid things the GOP does, that somehow, if a political party does it, it can’t be all that evil. And the GOP has long since embraced the racist dogwhistle, as have most of their candidates for high and low office. And I think most of them, the candidates, in their own heads, do the same thing. A variation on the age old, “just following orders” excuse. It makes me mad that so many prominent pundits do this sort of thing, but doesn’t surprise me. It is one reason we have blogs at the bottom of the pol dialogue totem pole, to say what needs to be said in impolite company.
No one else is going to broach the truth that if you say and do racist things, then you must own the title racist. Corporations shouldn’t be a way to provide cover to individuals behaving badly, and neither should political parties. Few white people even want to acknowledge that racism is a problem, and fewer still even want to talk about it. So they dance around it, those who mention it at all. So I don’t judge Fallows very deeply, as he is one of the good guys imo. Just not a hero, since they don’t exist in politics.
Yes, it would be really nice if we could stop essentializing people. Killers aren’t different at some basic level than everyone else walking around. Neither are racists.
Instead of wasting time whether someone “really is” a racist, can we ask whether their actions and words are rationally connected with the goal of increasing justice?
Was this post ghost written by ACL? Note the compelling arguments “I don’t care,” “I just don’t,” and the always convincing “full stop.”
Either this is ACL using Cole’s handle after completely losing it, breaking into Casa Cole, taking John and the pets hostage and madly typing away at his keyboard, or Cole is trying to lure the Angry Clown Lady back to BJ to complete the downward spiral of his own blog.
Either way, fascinating!
Hear, hear. Enough with the pathetic hair-splitting.
I think what Fallows is saying with that strange “racist-style career” phrase is:
Fallows is making a valid point here. Gingrich hasn’t overtly pandered to the lightning-bolt-tattoos-on-the-neck Aryan Brotherhood crowd, like Senator Bilbo or Senator Helms or George Wallace. That makes Gingrich more dangerous, because unwary observers can mistake Gingrich for a mainstream politician instead of a mudslinging liar and grifter and demagogue.
Have you got your POTUS ring tone yet. Since your such a true blue Democrat now and all…..right.
Racist is as racist does. Kinda. Sorta.
Yesterday Newt Gingrich specifically called out Juan Williams on the campaign trail, saying: “I had a very interesting dialogue Monday night in Myrtle Beach with Juan Williams about the idea of work, which seemed to Juan Williams to be a strange, distant concept.”
Here’s the link
Newt might as well have just called Williams a lazy n****r.
It doesn’t even make sense! Williams asked Gingrich about the way his words have been perceived in the African-American community. How does that translate to “Juan Williams doesn’t understand the idea of work”?
Plus, Newt and Williams are former colleagues. They both worked at Fox News, and one presumes they knew one another as co-workers. Newt even went on camera defending Williams when he was fired by NPR in October 2010. Williams wrote an op-ed this summer praising the vision and daring of Gingrich’s statements about African Americans HERE
So now Gingrich, without qualms, is going around South Carolina casting his former colleague as a stereotypical uppity, shiftless darkie who doesn’t understand the concept of hard work! A deliberate, personal, insulting and yet totally uncalled for swipe at his fellow conservative, the guy who he once defended, the guy who praised his daring and vision.
To me, this really speaks volumes about Gingrich’s character. He didn’t even have to do it – it was yesterday, when he could have instead kicked John King around to get applause while on the stump. But he has to reach back, pull his former colleague Juan Williams up in front of the crowd and slap him around, in a particularly racist way. “Did you hear what that lazy n****r had the audacity to ask me?”
And for what it’s worth, though I’m not a fan of Juan Williams – he certainly understands hard work Until NPR fired him he was – like many African Americans – working two jobs.
@mclaren: Gingrich hasn’t overtly pandered to the lightning-bolt-tattoos-on-the-neck Aryan Brotherhood crowd
Like, say, Ron Paul? Perhaps there’s a distinction here, but it’s pretty thin. Lee Atwater’s rant is (once again) instructive. As Fallows says, Newt knows exactly what he’s doing with this shit.
We Fallows and I differ is that, for me, that makes Newt a racist.
@gaz: It amazes me how reading comprehension seems to be at the core of so much of the discussion here.
For the record, I didn’t say word one about Noot, so your projection that I think it is OK for Noot to be a racist asshole completely missed the mark. I don’t find it to be a terrifically compelling subject. Noot has always been an asshole, and he has always been a Republican, so the fact that he has been going full metal racist in order to win in SC is about as surprising as day following night.
I’m actually with you (and with Cole in this case) You can tell who the racists are by what they say. Defining racism as intent rather than action make it a useless label. (99% of the time when someone explains someone else’s intent they are telling you more about themselves then about the person that they are describing)
I was just noticing how standards seem to shift depending on who is being discussed. (and, yes, you are right that the position: “MM said something racists but that doesn’t mean he is racist” wasn’t universally held, but it _was_ argued quite strongly by a number of interesting people around here)
“Newt Gringrich is a racist” is really cutting edge, deep thought material for BJ; profoundly challenging to the established group think here.
I don’t care what anyone else says, I just don’t: Cole continues to troll his own pathetic pack of suckups for page hits, full stop.
Sad, but interesting to watch…
Gilles de Rais
That, my friends, is “willful ignorance”.
Fallows is just doing what every “responsible reporter” does now with the fair and balanced schtick. I have to give Republicans respect..they went from being mystified about how to counter the victim card, to chip bully at the final table in the World Series of Poutrage virtually overnight. I respect the hustle.
@g: To me, this really speaks volumes about Gingrich’s character.
Well, yeah, we all know Newt’s a vile piece of shit. The question, apparently, is how much of a racist piece of shit he is. I thought the verdict had come back guilty long ago, but apparently the jury’s still out.
Hmmmm, questions about Newt’s propensity to “implode.” What I have to wonder is what implosion it would be that would alienate the AnybodyButMitt crowd. I have just a bit more than a passing familiarity with Newt and there have been implosions that would have me foaming at the mouth, but I’m not even sorta like the GOPers.
Mitt’s 20some% already have their guy, the 10-20% waffling around might shy away, but the 60-70% ABMs? The ABMs have already had a look at MultipleMitt, they’re ABMs.
If Newt was saying “Joooos control the media” and “Joooos are cheap and greedy” and “Jooooish bankers control the world”, Fallows wouldn’t be splitting hairs over whether Newt was anti-Semitic.
Most of us are (unlike George the Lesser and Andrew Sullivan) unable to see into the men’s souls, and so we have to go by what they do and say.
If you use racism to further your own ends, muddy some waters, gain some perceived advantage, I do not give a fuck – you are a fucking racist motherfucker. Doesn’t matter what you “believe.” In fact, I would say you’re worse if you’re using racism to your advantage even though you “don’t have a racist bone in your body.” Because, you sad piece of crap, technically you KNOW BETTER.
Therefore, Newwwt is at once both a fucking racist motherfucker and something yet worse than a fucking racist motherfucker. And of story.
So than you were just being a scold?
Perhaps “racist-style” means the same thing as a modifier of political career as “ranch-style” means to a can of legumes.
West of the Cascades
@rb: This. Everything Newt does can be explained by Atwater’s naked revelation about the GOP’s Southern Strategy, and it’s inexcusable that Fallows can’t connect the dots when the inventor laid it out plainly. Absolutely playing the race card — even if Newt does it with pretty dog-whistles that don’t directly “go there” — makes Newt a racist. There’s really not a lot of nuance here, and it’s surprising that Fallows would pretend there is.
@jacy: Your entire comment needs to be highlighted.
herefore, Newwwt is at once both a fucking racist motherfucker and something yet worse than a fucking racist motherfucker. End of story.
He is scary. Although, it appears that he would be easy to beat, if he did win, we would be so f.cked as a country. Red Kitten might have some folks knocking on her door.
Oh come on, he doesn’t sound that drunk.
Newt Gingrich is a racist motherfucker. There, it has been said. Now maybe we should discuss whether this is one of his better qualities.
Jacy, The boss beat me to it. Still what a great comment.
@gaz: Ah – good point. Let me amend my post. What I meant to say was:
Whatever the FP’r says < FUCK YEAH!!!!!!
USA! USA! USA!
Is that more acceptable?
ps: than != then. (yeah, I know … being a scold again. Sorry)
@Zagloba: LOL. Thread won an done.
The weird thing to me is the idea that if you inflame racist sentiments just to further your political career, that’s somehow better than if you act out of sincerely held racist beliefs. Because that’s what this is really about.
Special Patrol Group
To paraphrase the great Chris Rock: What do you have to do to be a racist? Shoot Medgar Evers? Holy fucking shit.
Every time I see Newt, this song pops into my head
I can’t figure out why
Yeah, I’d call Newt’s comments there racist.
pseudonymous in nc
I think the argument goes something along the lines of “It’s only 20 years since David Duke was in the Louisiana gubernatorial runoff, so.”
It’s not as if the base of the base in SC aren’t hearing the ol’ warKKKry, when they’re going up to Newt and thanking him for putting that uppity niCLANG Juan Williams in his place.
Villago Delenda Est
Yup, Fallows here is making a distinction without a difference.
Right on, John.
BTW, did you know the edit button has gone the way of Star Wars Galaxies?
@joes527: Ahh, so this is about FP’ers, and not racism now? see D4D, bitch.
Fallows is just a nice nerdy guy who doesn’t understand fashion.
There isn’t just one racist style, and Newt’s invented his own. He be stylin’
Thanks – now if I only had, oh, say, a freakin’ edit function to fix my typo. FYWP
here is the link
I suspect what it’s about is Fallows wanting to say something that was true, but unfiltered, would bring all the shit raining down on his head. So he came at it sneaking up from behind. Calling the emerging GOP fav a full frontal racist would certainly make baby jeevus spit mad, and white America’s delicate nerves couldn’t handle it. Same phenom as a prominent pundit calling GWB a torturer, while noting we hanged Japanese officers for doing what he did with ordering the waterboard.
Fallows is trying to distinguish between Noot’s not-necessarily-racist general approach to politics and Noot’s tactical use of racist code in campaigning. Is Noot a dyed-in-the-wool racist, or merely one who panders to racist voters?
When you put the question this way, the significance of its answer becomes clear: it doesn’t matter. A decent person wouldn’t want to vote for a racist, or for someone who panders to them either.
Every time I see Newt, this song pops into my head
I can’t figure out why
@Redshift: The weird thing to me is the idea that if you inflame racist sentiments just to further your political career, that’s somehow better than if you act out of sincerely held racist beliefs
I take your point about the hypocrisy, but I think there’s a distinction without a difference here.
If you’ll use people based on their race, if you feel free to shit on them because of their skin color, if you run certain people down because you think saying things like “work seems a distant concept” to people of a certain race will help you get ahead, then you are a racist.
You are treating people worse than you’d treat others because of their race, and you “sincerely hold” the belief that it’s OK to do this.
Tactics are not value neutral. In the end Atwater copped to the ‘cruelty’ of pappy Bush’s campaign against Dukakis, but not its racism. I understand why he didn’t want to admit it, but he was a racist. The fact that he wouldn’t have run on Willie Horton if it would have hurt his candidate doesn’t change that.
@g: Him was still lazy if him only had two job.
@g: Him was still lazy if him only had two job.
I swear, if I ever find the time to write my PhD thesis on the psychological underpinnings of the right wing mode of thought, I’m going to call it the Bad Dad Theory.
But in the topic, I don’t know why we cut any racist statement any slack. A nice person can stumble into saying something stupid. We need to look at the whole picture. But we are talking about The Lizard King. He’ll say racist things to appeal to racists and sincereity doesn’t enter into it AT ALL.
Ok, so I am clearly not familiar with all Internet traditions. Department of the 4th Dimension? Dogs for Diabetics? DICK4DICK? You are going to explain it to me and I’m going to feel foolish that I missed it.
And you might lay off the sexist language. If you aren’t careful, someone might say that it shows that you are a sexist.
I don’t understand why it matters. I don’t care about NG’s or the GOP’s actual deep thoughts on race. It’s stunning and so infuriating that these assholes spew this stuff constantly for whatever reason (opportunism, true animus, whatever) and they then waltz into NBC, CBS, etc without anyone saying, “You know you’re a sorry excuse for a human being, don’t understand anything about actual American values or history and you have no business in any public office.” Still waiting for Trump to be ostracized.
Gnoot is fundamentally a grandiose racist staff banging adulterer.
I look forward to the verbal diarrhea which will come out of his mouth tonight when he wins in the first state to secede from the nation primary.
Since Nixon (at least), it’s been possible to run a racist campaign without running the risk of being labeled a racist by the MSM. Candidates are permitted the luxury of appealing to racist voters with thinly veiled racist messages, but at the end of the day, the candidates themselves get a pass.
@rb: My point actually wasn’t that it’s hypocrisy (because in order for it to be hypocritical, Newt would have to actually be against racism, not just not-racist-in-his-heart.) My point was that using race baiting for personal gain is something so amoral and horrible that I can’t see it as the lesser of two evils, even if you buy the “not a racist” argument.
But I don’t disagree with you; I don’t actually buy the “not a racist” argument myself.
Villago Delenda Est
Pretty much this.
If you don’t use “ni*CLANG*”, the MSM will pretty much give you a pass on all the dogwhistles there are, even if you’re broadcasting them with a klaxon.
That’s the bright line that protects guys like Noot.
Fallows is just following Villager protocols here, which are in place to make sure that we don’t endanger our supply of cocktail weenies by being shrill. Or, heaven forfend, calling a spade a spade.
@rb: Yes, but not only is he a vile piece of shit to people in general, he appears to be a vile piece of shit to a guy who’s a colleague of his – a guy he probably sees in the hallways or the green rooms of FOX.
I wonder how many times the hired help have spat into his coffee mug?
There’s a difference?
Anyone have any access to early Newt’s campaign materials from when he first ran for Congress? That would be interesting comparative reading.
@g: he appears to be a vile piece of shit to a guy who’s a colleague of his
Fair enough. I kind of thought the way he’s treated his wives rendered his behaving this way toward Williams the opposite of shocking, but I suppose Newt’s assholishness contains multitudes, and we can always discover further depths.
If only being a vile piece of shit disqualified you from certain things. Alas.
I’m 100% on Cole’s side of this argument, but it’s worth remembering Clinton’s “Sister Souljah moment” and Jimmy Carter’s remarks about maintaining the “ethnic purity” of neighborhoods, and some of the cagey things he said to win the Georgia governorship in 1970.
Of course, Clinton went on to become “our first black president,” according to some people, anyway, and Carter definitively denounced segregation after that election was safely won. None of that is an excuse for exploiting racism, even in the most marginal, ambiguous of ways, and I’m not saying they are “just as bad as Newt.” But maybe this is the kind of distinction Fallows had in mind.
I mean, I agree with Cole that it’s a BS distinction, but you can’t look at any period of U.S. political history–20 years ago, 30 years ago, 100 years ago, right now–without seeing appeals to lizard mind racism. And Clinton≠Gingrich, and Carter≠Wallace, so maybe there’s a tiny kernal of validity to the kind of distinction Fallows wants to make. Or maybe there was once, but we’re past that point, now. (But I still think Cole’s right!)
Ugh, our history and the damage we’ve allowed it to do.
Fallow’s mistake (as he responds to a reader who claims he is making sweeping generalizations about the GOP) seems to be that he is trying to be too precise. He is saying that in the past, Gingrich has not used the politics of racism in his career, but now he is using coded language and he knows it (“But he knows what this language does“) and has to own it.
Now, I find it hard to believe that Gingrich has not used racist ploys in his past political meanderings, but I have no evidence to site. Hopefully, those with such facts on hand can get them to Fallows so he can correct the record. He seems to take such communications to heart.
Fallows still wants invites to Sally Quinn’s parties after all. He can’t slag republicans truthfully as a result so he slips hints out the back door so to speak.
Back when Haley Barbour was testing the 2012 presidential waters, making claims that Yazoo was a paragon of racial harmony in the 1960s due to the progressive White Citizens Council, I was forced to order the Willie Morris’s book “Yazoo”, about the integration of the Yazoo school system. I’m old enough to remember the time, during which I lived in East Texas, and was feeling like I had early Alzheimer’s reading about Barbour’s version of events. My message to you all — don’t fall for any story that a Republican politician past a certain age is not a) racist and b) completely conversant with the traditional language around Southern apartheid.
Not to you and me. Fallows is hairsplitting, I’m not sure why. It might or might not be about access to the right villager parties. Does he still live in China, or is he back in America?
A distinction without difference I think nails it nicely.
looks like this racist motherfucker just won SC. nbc, fox etc all calling it based on exit polling which looks brutal for romney.
this race just got more interesting.
Beat me to it.
If 3 networks are already calling it based on the exit polls, must be a blow out. Wonder what the spread will be.
When I first read the name Kola Noscopy, I admit I was puzzled.
Was he an idiot or a genius? After all, it takes either an idiot or a genius to choose an on-line name that describes slithering up a rectum to search for a malignancy.
But when I read his posts, my puzzlement evaporated.
Who else but a genius would choose a name so apt?
Let us hope that he will be forever remembered by it.
I lived 25 years in Marietta, GA and Newt was around a lot of that time, as was the White Citizens Council. I heard Marietta called the home of that Council. Newt picked up all the racist dog whisles down there but didn’t need to use them until America had a black president. Newt was the first evil politician I knew as a young voter.