Dog Whistles and Lies – Another Day on the Campaign Trail with Mitt

If you’re not comatose, or haven’t been paying attention because you’ve been trapped in a cave since at least 1980, you understand that “welfare” is and always has been code for “black people” (although that is NOT the term used).

Reagan talks about Welfare in Philadelphia, Mississippi,
to kick off his campaign against Jimmy Carter in 1980

Given that context (and laying aside Ronald Reagan’s first post-RNC convention speech at Philadelphia, Mississippi, site of the infamous murder of three civil rights workers in the 1960s), let’s see what Mr. Dancing Horse has decided to go with today, to distract attention from his tax returns and the “Dan Rathering” of Harry Reid (see yesterday’s post):

The scandal behind Romney’s new attack ad
By Steve Benen – Tue Aug 7, 2012 7:50 AM PDT

Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign has presented the political world with an important test. I’m eager to see whether we pass or fail.

First, a little background. Some Republican governors this year asked the Obama administration for some new flexibility on welfare standards — the governors had some ideas about moving folks from welfare to work and needed the White House to sign off. Obama agreed — existing work requirements would stay in place, but states, if they want to, can take advantage of new flexibility when it comes to experimenting with existing law.

This is the sort of shifting-power-to-the-states policy that Republicans are supposed to love. As of this morning, however, it’s the basis for a new Mitt Romney attack ad.

It’s important to realize this is as dishonest an ad as you’ll ever see — in 2012 or in any other campaign cycle.

For those who can’t watch clips online, the ad shows President Clinton signing welfare reform into law in 1996, “requiring work for welfare.” The spot then argues, however, that President Obama “quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements.” The voiceover tells viewers, “Under Obama’s plan, you wouldn’t have to work and wouldn’t have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check…. and welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare.”

We then learn, “Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement because it works.”

Romney’s lying. He’s not spinning the truth to his advantage; he’s not hiding in a gray area between fact and fiction; he’s just lying. The law hasn’t been “gutted”; the work requirement hasn’t been “dropped.” Stations that air this ad are disseminating an obvious, demonstrable lie….

There’s more. Read it.

Barbie Rage (no racism involved, of course)

But recognize that the second that one rightly concludes the “race card” is being played, the Righties will go into Greco-Roman wrestling mode and scream that they’re not racists and anybody who says that they are is a racist, and why is it always that when they criticize Obama they get accused of racism, because, actually, they’d hate his ever-lovin’ guts even IF he wasn’t black, born in Kenya and not legally qualified to be President, and besides he’s the worst and most divisive president in American history, and you can always count on LIBERALS (invariably spoken with the “N-word” inflection of a Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan) to “play the race card” while they’re pushing forward their socialist, communist agenda, ad infinitum, ad nauseum.

Some things are as predictable as the tides.

Fine. They worship Ronald Reagan. Let’s hear the dead voice from beyond the grave, instead. I think you might like this snippet of Reagan’s 1980 Mississippi ‘kickoff’ speech:

Today, and I know from our own experience in California when we reformed welfare, I know that one of the great tragedies of welfare in America today, and I don’t believe stereotype after what we did, of people in need who are there simply because they prefer to be there. We found the overwhelming majority would like nothing better than to be out, with jobs for the future, and out here in the society with the rest of us. The trouble is, again, that bureaucracy has them so economically trapped that there is no way they can get away. And they’re trapped because that bureaucracy needs them as a clientele to preserve the jobs of the bureaucrats themselves.

I believe that there are programs like that, programs like education and others, that should be turned back to the states and the local communities with the tax sources to fund them, and let the people [applause drowns out end of statement].

I believe in state’s rights; I believe in people doing as much as they can for themselves at the community level and at the private level. And I believe that we’ve distorted the balance of our government today by giving powers that were never intended in the constitution to that federal establishment. And if I do get the job I’m looking for, I’m going to devote myself to trying to reorder those priorities and to restore to the states and local communities those functions which properly belong there.

I’m going to try also to change federal regulations in the tax structure that has made this once powerful industrial giant in this land and in the world now with a lower rate of productivity than any of the other industrial nations, with a lower rate of savings and investment on the part of our people and put us back where we belong….

Land O’Fakes Butter Girl

When Reagan took office, the United States of America was the world’s Number One exporter of finished goods and importer of raw materials. By the George W. Bush usurpation, the USA was the world’s Number One importer of finished goods and exporter of raw materials. We also had the world’s highest rate of worker productivity and greatest gap between the rich and the poor.

Looks like you lost one for the Gipper, dudes.

Let’s not even talk about Mitty’s desire for more tax cuts.

Benen notes, however:

Postscript: I’d be remiss if I neglected to mention the racial subtext of an attack ad like this one. For decades, Republicans used “welfare” as part of a racially-charged message (“Democrats want to give white people’s money to lazy black people who’ll get checks for sitting around”). I can’t speak to Romney’s motivations — I’m not a mind-reader — but the language in the ad harkens back to the kind of ugly and racially divisive rhetoric we heard from GOP candidates for far too long.

It’s quite likely Team Romney would prefer to spend the next several days debating whether or not his new attack ad is racist — it’d beat talking about his secret tax returns — but that’s not much of an excuse….

Even more hilariously, Romney was among 29  governors who signed a letter asking for “greater flexibility” in welfare — the exact same approach he now disingenuously attacks President Obama for. Kinda like “Obamacare.”


NOTE: Here’s  a CSPAN “American Memory” panel discussion on Reagan’s Speech. (About 1:40:00 Will open in a new window).


A writer, published author, novelist, literary critic and political observer for a quarter of a quarter-century more than a quarter-century, Hart Williams has lived in the American West for his entire life. Having grown up in Wyoming, Kansas and New Mexico, an honorary Texan, Clown (ditto) and a veteran of Hollywood, Mr. Williams currently lives in Oregon, along with an astonishing amount of pollen. He has a lively blog His Vorpal Sword. This is cross-posted  from his blog

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About Hart Williams

Mr. Williams grew up in Wyoming, Nebraska, Kansas and New Mexico. He lived in Hollywood, California for many years. He has been published in The Washington Post, The Kansas City Star, The Santa Fe Sun, The Los Angeles Free Press, Oui Magazine, New West, and many, many more. A published novelist and a filmed screenwriter, Mr. Williams eschews the decadence of Hollywood for the simple, wholesome goodness of the plain, honest people of the land. He enjoys Luis Buñuel documentaries immensely.

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