Friday, July 24, 2009


Greg Sargent on the Obama/Gates story:

Yet the explosive reaction to [the president's] comments suggests there's still electricity flowing in the political third rail of race, and Republicans are making an old-school bet that they can exploit it to their advantage.

I don't think that's putting it quite right. The bet Republicans are making is simply that more stuff will stick to the wall if it's thrown in the direction of the wall than if it isn't, so it's best to just throw everything.

That's the bet Republicans always make.

Republicans don't care if race is a hot button or a cold button or a lukewarm button -- it's a button, and they're going to push every possible button until they find the combination of button-pushes that sinks the Democrats and thus gets them to 50% plus one vote.

Sargent, at least, isn't nearly as off base as (alas) Rachel Maddow was last night:

This is Chapter One of the art of Republican politics since Richard Nixon: when surrounded by a more popular opponent whose ideas you can't necessarily counter or you don't feel confident countering, steer as clear as you can of ideas and policy and, instead, stoke racial indignation among your base when you can.

"Instead" is absolutely the wrong word to use here. For one thing -- and this should be obvious to Maddow -- Republicans right now are supremely confident that they've got Obama on the ropes on health care, with or without an alternative plan of their own. But even when they don't think they're winning political debates, they just keep attacking -- on everything, all the time, until something works.

And it doesn't have to work right away. The point is to keep building up what I've called the Protocols of the Elders of Liberalism, which is the right's ever-expanding indictment of all Democrats and liberals, for as many real and imagined sins and crimes as possible. This is basically a wiki -- all right-wingers are encouraged to contribute to it; nothing is ever deleted, but everything is extensively hyperlinked. Thus, Obama on Henry Louis Gates links to ACORN and links to Reverend Wright and links to Bill Ayers and his support of Mumia. (That's just a partial list of links.) Everything builds on everything else, until a picture emerges of ever-metastasizing, unspeakable liberal evil.

The GOP base, which watches Fox News and listens to talk radio for fun, knows nearly all the links by heart the way, say, Sunnis and Shiites or Serbs and Croats know the rage-inducing legends in their mutual histories. The point is to keep expanding the list of legendary, linked offenses.

So this isn't a switch to a neo-Southern Strategy. It's just the same old right-wing strategy: more is more.

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