HEY PHYLLIS, ASK DAN QUAYLE ABOUT CODED RACE TALK BEFORE AN ELECTION
You may know about today's Phyllis Schlafly story (if not, I'll discuss it below), but it's nothing we haven't seen before. Time magazine, June 1, 1992:
IF FOR NOTHING ELSE, DAN QUAYLE DESERVES POINTS for audacity.... the Vice President dared to argue last week in a San Francisco speech that the Los Angeles riots were caused in part by a "poverty of values" that included the acceptance of unwed motherhood, as celebrated in popular culture by the CBS comedy series Murphy Brown. The title character, a divorced news anchorwoman, got pregnant and chose to have the baby.... "It doesn't help matters," Quayle complained, when Brown, "a character who supposedly epitomizes today's intelligent, highly paid professional woman" is portrayed as "mocking the importance of fathers, by bearing a child alone, and calling it just another 'life-style choice.' "
... A New York Daily News headline set the tone: QUAYLE TO MURPHY BROWN: YOU TRAMP! Switchboards at the White House and on TV and radio talk shows lit up with callers, pro and con.
... critics suspected that the Vice President's remarks fit into a calculated strategy to suggest that L.A.'s rioters, who were mostly black and Hispanic, have in common with feminists and other Democrats a shoddier moral standard than nice people (who therefore should vote Republican)....
Yup, and now, from a fund-raiser over the weekend on behalf of Andrew “Rocky” Raczkowski, a GOP House challenger in Michigan, we have Schlafly saying this:
...Do you know what was the second-biggest Democratic group that voted for Obama? Obvious, the blacks were the biggest Democratic group. Do y'all know what was the second-biggest? Unmarried women. Seventy percent of unmarried women voted for Obama. And this is because, when you kick your husband out, you got to have Big Brother government to be your provider. And they know that, and they've admitted it. And they had all kinds of bills to continue to subsidize illegitimacy....
Back in '92, was Quayle trying to tap into white racial resentment while using a white TV character as a smokescreen? Was he being an ur-Glenn Beck, linking evil rootless-cosmopolitan Hollywood liberals and non-whites in a conspiracy to ruin the heartland's purity of essence? Whatever he was doing, it didn't work -- Quayle and Poppy Bush were trounced at the polls a few months later, and nearly 70% of unmarried women rejected the sitting president in favor of Bill Clinton or Ross Perot.
You can decide whether you think Schlafly is playing on racist stereotypes -- I'd say it's kind of a giveaway when she brings up this poll and (as Steve Benen notes) talks about "the blacks" in the same breath. And, well, what do you know -- first out of the gate to defend her in the right blogosphere is the racist and neo-Confederate Robert Stacy McCain, who says of Schlafly's pronouncement:
This is what we in the journalism business call a "fact."
Really, Robert? What's a fact? Schlafly's implication that all unmarried women are single mothers? Her suggestion that every single mother got that way because she "kick[ed her] husband out"? (Yeah, right -- men in America are so dependable and meek that not one of them has ever abandoned his kids' mother of his own volition.) The notion that every government program encourages indolence? (The point of subsidized job training and day care is to encourage work, no?)
My memory of the Quayle speech was that a lot of women -- white, non-white, married, single -- were deeply offended by it. (The coding, apparently, was too effective; he chastized a white female TV character, and white women were among those offended.) Perhaps it's time for a rerun. If I were the Democrats, I'd run ads with Schlafly's comments all over the country -- and maybe not just in the districts where her Eagle Forum has endorsed candidates. Headline the clip "GOP fund-raiser." Really, why not? Do you think this mindset is limited to Schlafly, or those she's endorsed? Five bucks says if you played a tape of this to Sharron Angle, she'd say, "Hell, yeah."
(Just for the record, Schlafly's poll appears to be real -- it was from Greenberg Quinlan Rogers. It's cited by horrified righties here and here.)