Sunday, April 18, 2010


It's hard to believe that Michael Barone used to be regarded as a respectable pundit, and that he was once best known for editing the non-ideological Almanac of American Politics. In recent years he's become a wingnut propagandist -- and his latest column goes a bit further than that, into coded conspiratorial bigotry.

After some silly right-wing boilerplate about how tea party supporters oppose "Obama's culture of dependence" (all of which ignores the fact that teabaggers, who are disproportionately older, are more likely than the population as a whole to rely on government for health care and a monthly Social Security check), Barone gets into some demographic analysis:

Barack Obama carried voters with incomes under $50,000 and those with incomes over $200,000 and lost those with incomes in between. He won large margins from those who never graduated from high school and from those with graduate school degrees and barely exceeded 50 percent among those in between. The top-and-bottom Obama coalition was in effect a coalition of those dependent on government transfers and benefits and those in what David Brooks calls "the educated class" who administer or believe that their kind of people administer those transactions. They are the natural constituency for the culture of dependence.

That, in coded form, is the classic right-wing conspiracy: overeducated rootless cosmopolitans (fill in an ethnic/religious identity if you choose) use poor people (fill in a skin color if you choose) to weaken America, in defiance of the will of the hardy self-reliant real Americans in the middle (fill in a lighter skin color if you choose).

You can poke around the Internet and find people making this argument in a much more undiluted, uncoded manner. The arguments at the linked page are horrifying ("Ultimately, the jewish machinations for breeding out pure races, not just Whites, and ushering in an era of one homogenized breed is nothing less than genocide"), but at least the author is forthright about what he's arguing. Barone is tapping into the same idea, in a "lite" form, but he doesn't have the guts to acknowledge it.

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