Monday, January 23, 2012

Speaking the language

Essayist Terrence Heath talks about why Newt Gingrich has jumped to the top of the GOP pack. Newtie played the race card, speaking the language of South Carolina.

As part of Newt knowing his audience Heath quotes Paul Waldman who explains how the GOP, or at least Newt, operates. Yes, they promote class warfare (while accusing Obama of the same thing). But it isn't based on economic classes. As we've heard for many years, it is a cultural class warfare -- Don't worry about the economy because those liberal elites are out to destroy the soul of the nation. As the economic mess drags on, fewer people are buying that argument.

Newtie adds one more ingredient into his winning stew. He characterizes Obama as a black person who has become too "uppity" -- who has forgotten his proper place in society. Of course, he doesn't say that in so many words.

My friend and debate partner has said such culture war/racist talk might resonate with the GOP base and give Newtie the nomination. But it won't play well in the rest of the country. Alas, so much of what Newtie says is a dog whistle -- the intended audience is energized by it and everyone else has a hard time understanding why an apparently harmless statement should be considered inflammatory.

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