Mitt Romney’s “gifts” remarks: straight from the Southern Strategy playbook

Mitt Romney on Wednesday attributed his defeat in part to what he called big policy “gifts” that the president had bestowed on loyal Democratic constituencies, including young voters, African-Americans and Hispanics.

In other words, Romney’s last words on the national stage might be the dying gasp of the Southern Strategy. It’s how Mitt really feels. Finally, after everything, through all the years of running a presidential campaign and the flipping and gyrating and etch a sketching, we got to see the core of the hollow man. Bottomline: if you’re not white and rich, Mitt Romney hates you.

Listen to the late Lee Atwater in a 1981 interview explaining the evolution of the GOP’s Southern strategy:


Atwater: ‘‘You start out in 1954 by saying, ‘N—er, ni—er, ni—er.’ By 1968 you can’t say ‘ni—er’ — that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites. And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because obviously sitting around saying, ‘We want to cut this,’ is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than ‘N—er, ni—er.”’        

It’s interesting to note that two loyal members of the GOP tribe who are publicly denouncing Romney’s comments, Louisiana governor Bobby Jindal and New Mexico governor Susana Martinez, are not conservative white men:

Jindal: “This is not where the Republican party needs to go,” he said. “Look, If you want voters to like you, the first thing you’ve got to do is to like them first. And it’s certainly not helpful to tell voters that you think their votes were bought.” [...] “Look, the Republicans, we need to stick to our principles, but we need to treat other people with respect,” he said. “Even those we don’t agree with, we need to show them we respect them and their beliefs.”

Martinez: “That unfortunately is what sets us back as a party — our comments that are not thought through carefully,” Martinez told Yahoo’s Chris Moody. Martinez, who previously criticized Romney’s “47 percent” remarks in September, added that his fundraiser video was a “ridiculous statement.” “You want to earn the vote of every single person you can earn, whether they be someone who relies on,” she said. “Why would you ever write off 47 percent?”

The Fox Infotainment Channel, however, has decided to stick with the Southern Strategy (anger! racist viewers! ratings!) because it’s good for business. As JM Ashby notes, “they’re running wild with the Makers vs Takers meme. Watch Varney and Kilmeade speak about giving “goodies” and “handouts” to people in exchange for votes:”

Varney: Look over here. What position are we in in American today? I say we’re just getting started. We’re throwing the handouts out left right and center.
Kilmeade: Mitt Romney mentioned that yesterday. He says he couldn’t win because all these other people are giving things away.
Varney: Buying votes with taxpayer money. Handouts all over the place. [...]
Varney: The president thinks that if you tax the top 2 percent some more, you will pay for all the goodies, all the handouts that we’ve got going.
Kilmeade: There’s not a single person who knows how to add that believes it’ll make any significant difference…

JM Ashby accurately reflects: “The problem for Republicans seeking reelection or higher office in the near future is that Fox News has a much larger audience and wields much greater power over the conversation than any single conservative politician. And if anyone on the right side of the aisle is going to issue a memo on how to cover a situation, it’ll be Fox delivering the orders. It only took one week for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie to be demoted from future king of the GOP to someone you don’t want to be caught associating with because he had the audacity to cooperate with the Obama administration following one of the worst disasters New Jersey has ever seen. If Fox News continues to select candidates for the Republican party, the party will never change. There’s too much money to be made in maintaining the status quo.”

Is Fox bad for the Republican Party? I’d say only if you’re currently a member of the Republican Party.

About these ads