WHY THE GOP THINKS THE SOUTHERN STRATEGY CAN WORK AGAIN
In my last post I noted that GOP mouthpieces -- Glenn Beck, the editorial page of Investor's Business Daily -- are describing health-care reform as "reparations." I see now that Republicans are ratcheting up racial hostility on several fronts, and what I cited was just the tip of the iceberg.
* After only one GOP senator on the Judiciary Committee voted to confirm Sonia Sotomayor (remember when many people thought she'd get at least 70 votes?), Rachel Maddow last night was the latest to note that every one of the Republicans invited to address the annual conference of the National Council of La Raza refused to do so, and turned down the invitation via the national GOP. (In the past, George W. Bush, Karl Rove, and John McCain have all addressed the group, although Congressman Tom Tancredo called it "a Latino KKK" a couple of months ago.)
* Beck stoked more racial anger on Fox News yesterday, saying:
This president, I think, has exposed himself as a guy, over and over and over again, who has a deep-seated hatred for white people, or the white culture.
* Rush Limbaugh has been cranking up the rhetoric at every opportunity -- in just one day he called Henry Louis Gates "an angry racist" and claimed that he had a dream in which he "was a slave building a sphinx in a desert that looked like Obama." He and Beck feature prominently in this video:
This is clearly the party line right now.*
But isn't this a terrible strategy for the GOP? Isn't the population becoming less white? Isn't the white population becoming less racist, as evidenced by the success of a black presidential candidate?
Well, it's possible that the GOP isn't looking any further than the 2010 election. It's going to be a midterm election, and Barack Obama won't be on the ballot. If whites -- especially angry whites -- make up a greater percentage of the 2010 electorate, the Republicans assume they'll win. It's the Pat Buchanan strategy.
But don't voters, even angry white voters, want actual solutions to America's problems, not angry rhetoric? I think Republicans are skeptical of that conventional wisdom. They clearly don't feel the need to present a health-care plan of their own -- why would they think they need to present solutions to any of the nation's other problems? Look: it's a two-party system. If you get enough people angry at Obama and the Democrats, where are they going to go? They don't really have a hell of a lot of choices.
Regarding Hispanics, Republicans clearly feel they can't pursue the Bush-Rove strategy of outreach -- sooner or later it would require them to have a policy on immigration other than "Deport 'em all and seal the borders." And any deviation from that infuriates the base.
And GOP outreach to African-Americans never works (for reasons that seem to baffle Republicans).
So the strategy is: make Obama and the Democrats unpopular, keep the base fired up and donating, and then be the only alternative.
*AND JUST TO CLARIFY THAT... I agree with this:
A TPM reader, a media professional, suggested this was a game-changing exchange for Rupert Murdoch's propaganda outlet.... "This is Rupert's prized employee appearing on his channel, and doing the equivalent of shouting 'fire' in a crowded movie house...."
Of course, the Republican network doesn't see it that way. Bill Shine, Fox News' Senior Vice President of Programming, said Beck's anti-Obama tirade "represented his own views, not those of the Fox News Channel." Beck, Shine said, "is given the freedom to express his opinions."
Karl Frisch translated the response: "Beck doesn't speak for Fox News, but we'll keep paying him to say anything he wants."
But I'd go one step further: If this is Murdoch's new party line, it's the party line of the movement conservatives in the Republican Party. Murdoch would never do anything that could harm the interests of GOP wingnuts.