I heard Charles Krauthammer say Tuesday night that Newt Gingrich’s “performance” on Monday’s GOP-FOX (I repeat myself) debate was “sparkling.” Yes, he actually said sparkling, as he and Bill O’Reilly got all tingly about what Newt had to say to Juan Williams, who dared to ask if Mr. Gingrich could see that his comments about blacks and food stamps and janitors might be “insulting to all Americans, but particularly to black Americans.”
What Gingrich had to say has been broadcast widely by liberal-minded folks to highlight what many of them see as at least quasi-racist appeals to the mostly pale-faced GOP crowd at the debate in a state with a history of blatant racism.
You know the drill: the poor, especially poor blacks, lack the necessary work ethic to succeed in America and it is up to hard-working white people like Newt Gingrich to devise ways to reprogram that work ethic into their otherwise lazy-loving brains.
But I want to focus on something Gingrich said on Monday night that has essentially been repeated in one form or another by other Republican presidential candidates. About extending unemployment benefits, he remarked,
It tells you everything you need to know about the difference between Barack Obama and the five of us, that we actually think work is good.
Now, forgetting for a moment all the racially-charged rhetoric about blacks and food stamps, we have in this statement a clue as to why there is so much palpable hate out there for our first black president. Mr. Obama is not just a black man living in the Whites’ House. He represents something far more than that. He symbolizes all welfare-loving blacks living in the whites’ America.
Attacking Mr. Obama in the way Gingrich did is a way of expressing the feeling a lot of whites have about black people, but are not normally free to express openly. Under the cover of politics, though, they can, through criticism of Obama like Gingrich’s, essentially call them lazy n***ers and get away with it. What else can Gingrich mean by suggesting that the President doesn’t “actually think work is good“? Huh? Just what does that mean?
And why associate Mr. Obama with food stamps, as Gingrich has done (he is the “best food stamp president in history“)? What point is Gingrich really trying to make? Certainly not a policy point, since everyone knows that W. Bush’s Great Recession is the cause of an increased need for food stamps.
Additionally, eligibility rules for obtaining food stamps were relaxed twice under Bush, and in terms of proportionality, CBS News pointed out:
The percent increase in beneficiaries during Mr. Bush’s presidency was higher than it has been under Mr. Obama: The number of beneficiaries went from 17.3 million in 2001 to 28.2 million in 2008 – an increase of 63 percent in years that are mostly considered non-recessionary.
So, Mr. Gingrich’s point of connecting Mr. Obama with food stamps clearly was made for reasons other than noting policy differences. He appears to be using the President as a surrogate for all those lazy blacks who sit back and live off someone else’s work.
Newt is not alone in using this technique. Mitt Romney said the following about President Obama during the Ames, Iowa, debate in August:
He just doesn’t understand how the economy works, because he hasn’t lived in the real economy.
I think in order to create jobs, it’s helpful to have had a job. And I fundamentally believe that what we need in this country is someone who’s willing to go to work, who believes in America, who believes in free enterprise, who believes in capitalism, who believes in opportunity and freedom. I am that person. I love this country.
The not-so-subtle suggestion: Obama hasn’t had a job. He’s not willing to go to work. He doesn’t believe in America or free enterprise or capitalism or opportunity or freedom.
Rick Santorum has said in Iowa:
I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them other people’s money. I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn their money and provide for themselves and their families.
The “other people’s money” is “other white people’s money,” don’t you know.
The New Republic noted that a section in a Ron Paul newsletter about a then-upcoming “race war” complained the problem was,
created by welfare programs, quota systems, and government interference in just about everything we do…
The “we” in that sentence is obviously a white we.
James Kirchick wrote four years ago that in a 1992 Ron Paul Political Report “special issue” on “the Los Angeles race riots of that year,” a “typical passage” about the Los Angeles riots read:
“Order was only restored in L.A. when it came time for the blacks to pick up their welfare checks three days after rioting began,” …It also denounced “the media” for believing that “America’s number one need is an unlimited white checking account for underclass blacks.”
You see the theme clearly: Blacks are parasites living off the government-confiscated wealth of white people, mostly white Republican people. And the rise of Mr. Obama has made it easy for uneasy whites to project their frustrations on him, a high-profile uppity figure who needs to be brought down to size.
And a mannerly Mitt Romney, who will end up with his party’s nomination, is especially good at using the “entitlement” meme, expressed much more urbanely than Gingrich could ever dream of, which can be summed up with what Romney said in New Hampshire in December:
President Obama sees America differently. He believes in an entitlement society.
That coming from a man born into wealth and privilege, who has earned millions partly by using government subsidies, and who, we will one day find out, pays an effective tax rate well below what many Americans pay because his income is of a kind not considered “ordinary” and thus deserving a special, lower rate.
Entitlement society, indeed.