While the left or those who enjoy attacking the right’s seemingly 1950′s esque “let’s take America back” style of reform, which if we were to go there, it would be horrendous, these quick labels of “racist!” hurt discourse and frankly are mostly inaccurate. The right is not stupid. Rush Limbaugh and Donald Trump are big figures who use racial stereotypes to joke or make their points and then whine when they are picked on. The judgments made on them may be overdrawn but they could save the headaches by avoiding inaccurate racial stereotypes in the first place.
I like John Lewis. A lot. His memoir was amazing. If you don’t know anything about him, he was part of the beginnings of the lunch sit-ins, the marches from Selma to Montgomery (Alabama), and worked on plethora of other civil rights causes with Martin Luther King Jr., Bobby Kennedy, and so on.
Unfortunately, Lewis wrote an op-ed piece in the NY Times accusing new voting right laws that require unexpired identification to be shown at voting centers as racist and unfairly targeting minorities (whom vote for him and his Democratic base). His logic is quite weak. Anyone can go and get updated I.D.’s from your local DMV, right?
Doug Mataconis chimes in.
This reader of the Dish echoes my grandmother’s fears and anxieties (she is from England but lives in America):
I loved your essay on your return to Britain after so long an absence. But I found it wistfully influenced by American optimism. I have had a different experience going back to England. I should admit up front that I am American but lived there for a decade and am married to a Brit. What I think that you got completely wrong was the sense of settled, accepted multiculturalism. Sure, in London you encounter many cultures mixing like you get in other great melting pot cities like New York. However, outside of London there is paranoia and resentment over that multiculturalism.
My husband’s family are almost all in Devon and Cornwall. We visited them last year, and we also visited friends in London and in the North of England. We found that outside of London our family, our friends, the locals at the pub, or the random person you have a conversation with at the grocery store are all under the impression that England is losing its identity as a result of massive numbers of immigrants. In Devon and Cornwall, I did not see a single non-white, non-English looking person the entire two weeks we were there. This is not hyperbole. Outside of London in general, I almost never saw anyone who wasn’t white, yet they have the panicked impression that they are being taken over from within.
There were many conversations among the people we encountered about the immigrant problem the country is having. It gets brought up unprompted and seems to be weighing heavily on their minds. They felt that they were all coming to England because they are “softer” than most other countries in the world and give out the most generous benefits. All immigrants were coming there to sponge off their generosity and they were taking over (despite none living anywhere near them). I pointed out that in America, immigration is what keeps the country a vibrant, innovative nation and the immigrants on the whole come there to build a better life so they are hard working and actually improve our economy. Countries with aging populations who don’t have good immigration have looming economic problems as a result of not being more inclusive.
They would have none of this American nonsense. Financial benefits (which they didn’t believe anyway) would be secondary to the cultural crisis being caused by immigrants who refuse to give up their old culture and become British. They believe they refuse to fit in and that they brought crime to the areas they live in. So, if they don’t ever actually see any immigrants down in Devon and Cornwall, where do they get these very strong, unbending opinions about them? My only conclusion is from the tabloid newspapers
Then we spent time in London and reveled in the diversity and the sense that no matter where you were from, you could be a Londoner. London was far more diverse than Los Angeles (where I now live) and all the more vibrant and interesting for it.
I’m glad you really enjoyed your visit and I agree that the North/South divide seems to have softened and to some extent the class divide has as well. Accents aren’t used against you quite as much (although an American accent will still get you down-graded in standing). I love so many of the same things that you do about the gentleness and world-weary wisdom of the place. Now that you can go back whenever you like, perhaps the rose-tinted glasses will come off a little more or subsequent trips, although that would be a shame.
- The family of Amy Winehouse believes she died because her body couldn’t take the withdrawal from alcohol. A friend of mine recently made a “too soon” joke about her: she has now been sober for 1 week.
- TIME counts off their top 30 music videos of all time.
- In case you hadn’t heard, Bob Dylan’s grandson, Pablo Dylan, is a rapper.
- Tim Wise will have two new books out in the next six months!
- Some awesome pictures from the Tour de France 2011.
- President Obama comments today on the debt ceiling crisis.
Mike Huckabee, I suppose, is following his calling. He is not running for president but feeding his sheep/flock on a cruise. This isn’t just any cruise, but an evangelical cruise with hints of insanity:
“It’s the first time I’ve felt the president wasn’t a true American. And that he wants to become a dictator. We didn’t like seeing him get elected because of his race,” - Maggie Benedict, a participant in the Freedom Cruise, a Christian gospel music extravaganza, hosted by Mike Huckabee.
I want to focus on three pragmatic issue points regarding same-sex marriage. They may span the general topic of same-sex marriage or something specific to New York.
- “Same-sex marriage is doing a big no no: it is redefining traditional marriage”. This message has cropped up across the anti-same sex marriage spectrum, from Pat Robertson on the 700 club to intellectuals at the NRO. You can’t redefine traditional (American, not Biblical) marriage because it has never been done before in any civilization or nation. To some, America is doomed because we have opened the Pandora box and begun to accepted (and even show love, not bigotry (why do some Christians worship on Sundays their lord of love but flamethrow the other days of the week?) for) same-sex marriage couples and their relationships.
Steven Taylor explains just a smidgen of the falsehood in the claim that marriage has never been redefined before. His piece is worth a full read but I will give you a paragraph or so:
“…the very fact that there were laws forbidding interracial marriage demonstrates the degree to which marriage has been a creature of legislation. And, as I noted the other day, the involvement of government in marriage is essentially escapable. So, at least from a legal point of view, marriage hasbeen redefined in living memory.”
Taylor delves into the story of Jacob of the Torah who had an interesting “marriage”. Indeed marriage has evolved since the days of marriages arranged by fathers, bride prices, bigamy, and sanctioned adultery.
2. “Same-sex marriage was legislated by liberal thugs, liberal tyrants, and (insert any other foaming at the mouth ad hominem, non-reality based stereotype)”. These sad canards crop up at the NRO, even to the point of comparing the New York state legislative process to fascist North Korea.
Faith in Public Life has continually brought the cut throat discussions in politics back to where they should be: to a humanized form. Ad hominem stereotypes distort and distract conversations to the point that we are no longer are talking about humans equal to us (and made in the image of God: imago deo) but “the gays”. FIPL provided a few news ads and commentary that helps with the now everpresent topic of same-sex marriage post-New York.
3. “Gays are going to sue religious organizations for discrimination”. This was an issue for the four Republican legislators in New York. Would there be enough protection for churches and organizations that may have objections to serving same-sex weddings or events so that they are not liable for discrimination? In a brief paragraph, yes, those protections are in place:
One of the most striking things about the week-long battle was how much of it hinged on the canard that worked so well for anti-marriage activists in California: If gay marriage is passed, religious organizations will be forced to marry same-sex couples, and businesses that object to homosexuality will be sued for refusing to provide their services at gay weddings. Under current law, religious leaders already can’t be compelled to sanctify a same-sex union, making this bill’s provision a politically motivated redundancy. Whether passing a same-sex marriage law without a religious exemption for businesses makes a difference is a more murky question. City and state nondiscrimination laws might have required businesses to provide their services at gay weddings—a protection the law passed yesterday supersedes. But it’s hard to imagine too many people in the wedding industry turning down money, and which gay couple would want to hire a homophobic organization anyway?
“Reverse: A Lynching” (full poem here) by Ansel Elkins:
Return the tree, the moon, the naked man
Hanging from the indifferent branch
Return blood to his brain, breath to his heart
Reunite the neck with the bridge of his body
Untie the knot, undo the noose
Return the kicking feet to ground
Unwhisper the word jesus
Rejoin his penis with his loins
Resheathe the knife Regird the calfskin belt through trouser loops
Refasten the brass buckle
Untangle the spitting men from the mob
Unsay the word nigger
Release the firer’s finger from its trigger
Return the revolver to its quiet holster
Return the man to his home
Unwidow his wife
Unbreak the window
Unkiss the crucifix of her necklace
Unsay Hide the children in the back, his last words
Repeal the wild bell of his heart
Reseat his family at the table over supper
Relace their fingers in prayer, unbless the bread …
This poem is powerful. It deals with a different time period but reminded me of this movie that was on TV today.
As I noted earlier today, Palin is making her cross-country trip, effectively rousing the people for a possible 2012 GOP bid. Palin is taking an unconventional route (no pun intended) in that she is purposefully eluding the press (and even her fans) and making them find her. In a sense, this tour will either give Palin the green or red light in terms of running in 2012:
According to a source with knowledge of Palin’s thinking, the tour is a test of whether she can do it “her way,” which the source described as “nontraditional, low-cost, high-tech…. The key is to be totally unpredictable and always keep her rivals off-balance.”
With that under-the-radar approach, Palin may have some gold up her sleeve:
Unscripted moments that go badly can haunt a politician on YouTube during a campaign and into the future, but Palin’s ease with a rope line and her politicking skills are one of her best assets. A Palin campaign may not have a press bus or the more formal interviews that reporters crave, but her team will undoubtedly factor in added time for her to greet supporters and campaign not just in large rallies but one on one as well.
The one major trait of Palin that could doom her chances is her divisiveness. Everything from her comments post-Tuscon to her Tweets, she polarizes the political debate to awful extremes (sometimes even cultural ones). Andrew Sullivan made this ironic point when she moved to Arizona, a state bitterly divided between the white, conservative north and the Hispanic south.
One other irony: Palin made the comment that she loves the smell of emissions. This comment could have many meanings behind it. It coincidentally was said by her the same day this report (eyes widen) was released:
According to the IEA, a record 30.6 gigatons of carbon dioxide was released into the atmosphere last year, mainly from the burning of fossil fuels. In light of these shocking numbers, experts now fear that it will be impossible to prevent a temperature rise of more than 2 degrees Celsius — which scientists say is the threshold for potentially “dangerous climate change.”
Picture by Flickr user Dave77459
TIME magazine ran a good piece on the politics of Arizona. It’s worth reading in full. Here are some money quotes and comments.
Arizona is, after all, the Grand Canyon State. Its defining topographical feature is literally a divide. The politics of the state, not just in these past few weeks but in the past few years, has been all about division, as though every argument we are having as a nation plays out there on a breathtaking scale. The budget is a shambles, the schools are among the worst in the country, the governor is accused of running “death panels” for cutting off funding for organ transplants for some Medicaid patients. Representative Giffords’ Tea Party — backed opponent held a “Get on target for victory” shoot-out at a gun range as a campaign event. Rallies against a controversial immigration bill last year featured so many tearful calls to prayer and accusations of Nazism that it seemed like an all-Hispanic version of the Glenn Beck show. “It’s as bad as I’ve seen in 40 years of observing Arizona politics,” says Bruce Merrill, a professor emeritus at Arizona State University. “We have so many real problems, and all our leadership has done is [pursue] polarizing issues using very strident language.”
Hence the picture. Here is a very brief history of the rather young state (less than 100 years old and less than a dozen senators in it’s history):
A certain level of discord was sewed into the fabric of Arizona from the outset. The center of the state was settled largely by “washed-up 49ers,” as Tucson lawyer and history buff David Hardy puts it, who were returning empty-handed and somewhat wild-eyed from California. Among them was a morphine-addicted prospector named Jack Swilling, who founded Phoenix. The libertarian DNA — the same strain that made Giffords a fan of concealed weapons and caused state senator Lori Klein to carry a handgun to Governor Jan Brewer’s state of the state address at the capitol two days after the Tucson shootings — remains from those early days. Distant from Washington and hardened by the Apache wars, settlers acted first and asked permission from the federal government later. “The pioneer,” wrote Orick Jackson in his 1908 history, “took the matter in hand without any authority, and without a dollar in pay.” That group had little in common with the Mormons who settled the north and not much regard for the Hispanic population that was dominant in the south. It was, says Manuel Hernandez, professor of Mexican-American literature at Arizona State University, an “apartheid state” for Hispanics until the Civil Rights Act of 1964.
With all its baggage, Arizona has boomed over the past half century:
Fair weather and cheap housing made the desert boom: a population that was just 700,000 after World War II stands at more than 6.5 million today. The growth in the past 20 years has been nothing short of steroidal: the population mushroomed by 40% in the 1990s and then rose an additional 25% in the first decade of this century. It is now the 16th largest state in the U.S. And that’s just the official population.
However, the state’s current affairs are hard to overlook:
The state of Arizona’s budget is even worse than it looks: a new study estimates that the true deficit is $2.1 billion (more than twice what the legislature says it is). The unemployment rate is exactly that of the U.S. as a whole — 9.4% — but more than half of the homes in Maricopa County, where Phoenix is, are underwater. Most state parks are being shuttered. The public schools are in the bottom 10% of the nation by many metrics.
The current leadership appears singularly unfit to tackle these challenges. Half the legislature seems to treat legislating like an indoor version of the Tombstone 2 p.m. Gunfight Show, giving speeches about pioneer values and then firing a round of blanks. Arizona’s legislature has long been warped by low voter turnout and uncontested districts. “Only ideologues go to the polls,” says Merrill. “In Arizona, that happens to be the right-wingers.” Public financing for campaigns removed most kinds of fundraising and, with them, the moderation that can come with accountability to the business community, so the primaries function as a race to the fringe of acceptable politics.
One Arizonan statesman worth mentioning is Russell Pearce:
Russell Pearce, the Mesa Republican who is now the president of the senate and perhaps the most powerful politician in the state. In 2009 the budgetary meltdown was already in its second year, but Pearce doggedly championed legislation that would force Obama, whom he describes as waging “jihad” against Arizona, to provide proof of his citizenship (it was tabled after being ridiculed around the country). In 2010, Pearce turned to immigration with SB 1070, a bill seemingly purpose-built to provoke not only controversy but also a lengthy court battle, thereby sapping both prestige and resources from a state that needs more of both. This year, the No. 2 priority after the budget, says Pearce, will be legislation calling for the repeal of the 14th Amendment, the one that grants citizenship to any child born on U.S. soil. This, of course, is not anywhere near the jurisdiction of the Arizona legislature.
To wrap up, much of the national and state-level approach to immigration issues most likely will come back to haunt America. The strident bumper-sticker public policy approach in Arizona and elsewhere in America is attacking the very base that will have a majority in Arizona in a few decades and most likely will continue to grow in presence and stature in America in the years to come:
So when the lawmakers decided to cut dropout-prevention programs — the Hispanic dropout rate is particularly abysmal — they may have fulfilled a campaign promise, but they also dented Arizona’s prospects.
(Pictured: The Grand Canyon in Arizona).
KT provides some interesting points for those willing to discuss America’s prison system:
In the twenty-seven nations of the European Union, whose combined population exceeds ours by nearly two hundred million, the total prison population for all crimes combined is around six hundred thousand. In the US, we’ve got almost that number of people – five hundred thousand to be precise — in prison for drug related crimes alone. And many of these crimes involve no violence whatsoever.
Even the racial aspects of incarceration are striking:
African Americans make up roughly twelve percent of our total population, but they make up over forty percent of the prison population. Latinos make up thirteen percent of the population, but twenty percent of prison inmates. The prison system is one of the epicenters of racial inequality in America. If current trends continue, one-third of all black males and one-sixth of all Latino males will go to prison during their lives, as opposed to one in seventeen white males.
As easy as it is to say “fix the broken system!” it is harder than many can fathom. Just spending one day in an in-school suspension room at a middle school will give you a taste of what reformers are up against. We cannot talk to these detained students, yet (healthy) attention is most likely just what they need. We cannot really help them with their work and are to encourage them to figure it out on their own (because they ruined their chance in class to be taught), yet patient help is what they do need.
This may take me off of the original topic, but it has me questioning aspects of the public school system (which I have been for a few months). The system is very much assembly-line-esque with almost a one size fits all approach. The outlier pupils – most notably those who cannot sit still due to ADHD, anxiety, etc. – are disciplined. From my first hand experience, the students I had who exhibited ADHD or anxiety symptoms had issues stemming from their parents (or lack of parental presence). Some of these students became hyper-active due to these home issues and others reticent to the point that I unfortunately might not even notice them on a day to day basis.
I hope this all can emphasize a few things. One, family (supportive, loving, present, active) really does matter. Two, support systems (teachers, tutors, clubs, teams, religious institutions, et al) are strong supplemental systems that in some cases are even the primary support for our younger generation. Third and finally, having the first and second aforementioned points as positive presences in a students life are just what they (and we all) need to move along through the ups and downs in life (whether through discipline issues at school, a lost job, or a string of incarcerations).
Joel Kline has an excellent article on the current state of American schools. You cannot mention American schools without including it’s unions. He delves into that subject and exposes some hard truths that even I as a certified teacher am alarmed to hear.
As we all hear day in and day out, America is falling behind when it comes to equipping our upcoming generations with the skills they need to get quality jobs and ultimately compete in the global market (the part about the global market always makes me chuckle. Can you imagine this being ingrained into teachers heads as they work with elementary and middle school teachers?)
now our technological progress is advancing more rapidly than our educational attainment. From 1960 to 1980, our supply of college graduates increased at almost 4 percent a year; since then, the increase has been about half as fast. The net effect is that we’re rapidly moving toward two Americas—a wealthy elite, and an increasingly large underclass that lacks the skills to succeed.
This division tears at the very fabric of our society. Nevertheless, there’s little national urgency to fix its underlying causes. Unlike a bad economy, poor educational achievement creeps up on us. Right now, if you were running for office, would you be more concerned with unemployment or education? Also, unlike terrorism, an educational crisis has a different impact on the powerful than it does on most of society. Their children, who are in private schools or elite public schools, receive a decent education, so it’s hard to get them fully engaged in the broader national debate. Plus, unlike in health care, for example, where we perceive the quality of care to be good and worry instead about controlling costs and covering the uninsured, in education, despite massive increases in expenditure, we don’t see improved results. That leads too many people to suspect that poverty is destiny, that schools can make only a small difference, and that therefore we’re unable to fix this problem, regardless of its seriousness. So why try?
This, along with some other common gripes, Klein digs into.
One of the general threads in this article is the type of career many teachers want and how far removed their desires are from other normal jobs:
The school system doesn’t want to change, because it serves the needs of the adult stakeholders quite well, both politically and financially.
Now to the unions. The American Federation of Teachers and National Education Association have roughly 4.7 million members. That is a lot of money and pull. As the union connects to their political counterparts, one of their goals is to keep the union members happy:
And what do the members want? Employees understandably want lifetime job security (tenure), better pay regardless of performance (seniority pay), less work (short days, long holidays, lots of sick days), and the opportunity to retire early (at, say, 55) with a good lifetime pension and full health benefits; for their part, the retirees want to make sure their benefits keep coming and grow through cost-of-living increases. The result: whether you work hard or don’t, get good results with kids or don’t, teach in a shortage area like math or special education or don’t, or in a hard-to-staff school in a poor community or not, you get paid the same, unless you’ve been around for another year, in which case you get more. Not bad for the adults.
Also worth noting, the legal process is equal to jumping through hundreds of hoops just to fire a teacher.
Klein also digs into the pension system that really hits many districts hard:
None of these pay increases makes sense. Why pay someone more for simply working another year or for taking a few courses? Starting last year, Mayor Bloomberg refused to give teachers in New York a raise, because he was facing budget cuts. But the overall pay for teachers still went up nearly 3.5 percent automatically, simply for longevity and college credits. (According to a Department of Education internal analysis, the average NYC teacher works fewer than seven hours a day for 185 days and costs the city $110,000—$71,000 in salary, $23,000 in pensions, and $16,000 in health and other benefits.) And why give all teachers making $80,000, or more, a 10 percent raise? They’re not going to leave, since they’re close to vesting their lifetime pensions. By contrast, increasing starting salaries by $8,000 (rather than $4,000) would help attract and retain better new teachers. But because of seniority, we can’t do it that way.
Consequently, elected officials have had every incentive to make extraordinarily optimistic assumptions about the pension plan—or to simply underfund it—so they can put as little as possible into the reserve. Unfortunately, but predictably, that’s exactly what has happened: most states “assumed” they would get an average 8 percent return on their pension reserves, when in fact they were getting significantly less. Over the past 10 years, for example, New York City’s pension funds earned an average of just 2.5 percent. Now virtually every pension plan in America that covers teachers has huge unfunded liabilities. A recent study by the Manhattan Institute estimated the total current shortfall at close to $1 trillion. There’s only one way to pay for that: take the money from current and future operating budgets, robbing today’s children to pay tomorrow’s pensions. In NYC, for example, the portion of the overall budget set aside for education pensions went from $455 million in 2002 to $2.6 billion in 2011, most of it for teachers. Not surprisingly, retirees remain politically vigilant, and vote at much higher levels than active teachers in union elections (50 percent versus 24 percent in New York’s last UFT election).
Klein also compares schools lack of incentive to make their product (education) better to their practical monopoly-like strangle hold on their niche (which also keeps many charter schools from starting up):
Accountability, in most industries or professions, usually takes two forms. First and foremost, markets impose accountability: if people don’t choose the goods or services you’re offering, you go out of business. Second, high-performing companies develop internal accountability requirements keyed to market-based demands.
Public education lacks both kinds of accountability. It is essentially a government-run monopoly. Whether a school does well or poorly, it will get the students it needs to stay in business, because most kids have no other choice. And that, in turn, creates no incentive for better performance, greater efficiency, or more innovation—all things as necessary in public education as they are in any other field.
Klein had a few good takeaway points:
…we unions talk reform, but firing incompetent teachers will never be a real part of that.
Change is possible. In New York City, it took a mayor willing to assume control over the system and risk significant political capital. It required time—Mayor Bloomberg and I had more than eight years together, while most urban superintendents serve for about three and a half years. It required taking risks, knowing that not every change will work out and that your critics will focus mercilessly on those that don’t. But most of all, it required building community and political support.
McKinsey estimates that the benefits of bringing our educational levels up to those of the highest-performing countries would have raised our gross domestic product by about $2 trillion in 2008.
Finally, Al Shanker spoke in 1993 about the school system:
We are at the point that the auto industry was at a few years ago. They could see they were losing market share every year and still not believe that it really had anything to do with the quality of the product I think we will get—and deserve—the end of public education through some sort of privatization scheme if we don’t behave differently. Unfortunately, very few people really believe that yet. They talk about it, and they don’t like it, but they’re not ready to change and stop doing the things that brought us to this point.
Paul Farhi offers a contrarian (but much shorter) opinion.
Of all people, Bill O’Reilly showed a few examples of how the Left really does sometimes incite racial anxieties:
Recently on NBC’s “Meet the Press,” the moderator, David Gregory, questioned whether Newt Gingrich’s description of Mr. Obama as the “food stamp president” was a racist statement.
Mr. Gingrich told Gregory his question was “bizarre.”
It was also typical.
When Donald Trump advised the president to “get off the basketball court” and down to business, he was branded racist by a variety of mainstream pundits.
In my Super Bowl Sunday interview with Mr. Obama, I asked him if he was a football fan. Some loon on HBO immediately branded that question racist.
Even for me, those comments listed above are mostly far from racial flame throwing.
When certain yes-no questions are asked that usually intertwine one’s view of race and their political views, answers can draw a thick line in the sand pitting “the racists” against “the tolerant ones”:
These questions, which have been used in a number of studies of racial attitudes, asked respondents to agree or disagree with statements regarding the condition of African Americans in the United States including whether a legacy of racism and discrimination has made it difficult for blacks to get ahead, whether blacks have gotten less than they deserve in the United States, whether blacks would be as well off as whites if they tried harder and whether blacks should be able to overcome prejudice the same way other minority groups did, without any special favors.
Not coincidentally, one can arrive at the “resentful” answers to these questions not only through racism, but also through conservative beliefs. One might say blacks should “try harder” out of a belief that they are lazy — or out of a belief that in America, hard work produces results no matter the color of one’s skin, and is preferable to government aid. One might say blacks shouldn’t get “special favors” out of a dislike for them — or out of a belief that no one should get special favors on the basis of race. These conservative beliefs may be right or wrong, but they are not inherently racist.
Robert VerBruggen makes two mistakes in his piece. One, he insinuates that hard work, no matter your skin color, produces success. That is so far from the truth it is laughable. Tim Wise has dismantled this myth several times. Also, VerBruggen concludes that there is no actual evidence to support conservatives being labeled as racists. I then ask these questions: why is your party almost always represented by whites, hostile to immigrants, represented by race-baiters (Rush Limbaugh), supportive of wealthy (a homogeneous group of whites) business owners and CEO’s over the poor (who, mostly non-white, are because years of education being withheld to them, almost always behind their white counterparts in test scores, school performance, or even the chance of being unemployed)?
When Jon Huntsman said that Sarah Palin represents and can relate to every American, I winced. Does she see America when she looks into the all white crowd? (Mind you, the minorities in the video were all working security/stadium crew).
Robert Reich explains how the hypothetical presidential match-up between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama has dwindled from a 13 point lead for Barack to just 1 point:
Why is Mitt doing so well? Partly because Obama’s positions are by now well known, while voters can project anything they want onto Mitt. It’s also because much of the public continues to worry about the economy, jobs, and the price of gas at the pump, and they inevitably blame the president.
But I suspect something else is at work here, too. To many voters, President Obama sounds and acts presidential, but he doesn’t look it. Mitt Romney is the perfect candidate for people uncomfortable that their president is black. Mitt is their great white hope.
I wouldn’t take it so far with the race card. Mitt is somewhat ambiguous when it comes to policy, yes. However, he seems to be the same, plain candidate that was around in 2008:
I say this not because Mitt’s mind is the sharpest of the likely contenders (Newt Gingrich is far more nimble intellectually). Nor because his record of public service is particularly impressive (Tim Pawlenty took his governorship seriously, while Mitt as governor seemed more intent on burnishing his Republican credentials outside Massachusetts). Nor because Mitt is the most experienced at running a business (Donald Trump has actually managed a major company, while Mitt made his money buying and selling companies). Nor, finally, because he’s especially charismatic or entertaining (Sarah Palin can work up audiences, and Mike Huckabee is genuinely funny and folksy, while Mitt delivers a speech so deliberately he seems to be driving a large truck).
“First of all, every player has played with gay guys. It bothers me when I hear these reporters and jocks get on TV and say, ‘Oh, no guy can come out in a team sport. These guys would go crazy.’ First of all, quit telling me what I think. I’d rather have a gay guy who can play than a straight guy who can’t play.
Any professional athlete who gets on TV or radio and says he never played with a gay guy is a stone-freakin’ idiot. I would even say the same thing in college. Every college player, every pro player in any sport has probably played with a gay person. … They always try to make it like jocks discriminate against gay people. I’ve been a big proponent of gay marriage for a long time, because as a black person, I can’t be in for any form of discrimination at all,” - Sir Charles Barkley.
Barkley is all over the place but his final point is spot on.
Newt Gingrich has floated the idea of people being required to take a test to be able to vote. This eerily reminds me of civil rights era times where many African Americans could not vote because of poll taxes or hard as nails poll tests. Both of those tactics, along with KKK strong arming, were meant to keep African Americans away from voting. The South is still recovering.
Gingrich may be sincere, but with a PhD you would think he would know how sensitive this issue is to the fabric of America.
Newt Gingrich plays the old Rush Limbaugh game of dialing up racist anecdotes and then easily flops back into a defensive crybaby mode when called on them.
Tim Wise helps us Caucasians out by using Donald Trump as an example (this is so worth a full read):
Now, with the birth certificate thing settled among remotely sane people, Trump has switched gears, casting doubt on Barack Obama’s academic performance and suggesting he didn’t deserve to get into the Ivy League schools he attended; namely, Columbia and Harvard Law. Although this plays directly into the long-running narrative so common on the white right for the past forty years, to the effect that black folks are getting things they don’t deserve because of racial favoritism, Trump insists it has nothing to do with race. Of course not. Neither could it possibly be about race that Trump would question Obama in this way, despite never having raised the issue of academic merit with any white president or politician, like, for instance, George W. Bush, who was a mediocre student (at best) in prep school and Yale, and actually bragged about his piss-poor performance to Yale students when he gave the commencement address there after becoming president.
One other noteworthy quote: