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In his own voice
November 16, 2012 12:58 AM   Subscribe

You start out in 1954 by saying, “N-----, n-----, n-----.” By 1968 you can’t say “n-----”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “N-----, n-----.”
The full audio of Republican operative and Karl Rove mentor Lee Atwater's infamous 1981 interview has been obtained and published by The Nation.

If you just want to hear the line itself, check out this YouTube video.
posted by Pope Guilty (144 comments total) 70 users marked this as a favorite

 
You start out in 1954 by saying, “N-----, n-----, n-----.” By 1968 you can’t say “n-----”— ... and in 2012 you can rap it, constantly. (cf that Drake song someone posted earlier in the week in the YOLO thread).

Man, I'm only a little way into this, and I'm not sure I've ever heard of Atwater before in any meaningful way... but he seems like a dick.
posted by Mezentian at 1:16 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


When I first read this, I thought it was out the mouth of some left-wing social reformer trying to expose right-wing hypocrisy. Nope, it's straight-up Republican doublethink at its finest. Christ, what an asshole.
posted by cthuljew at 1:32 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


It is instructive to consider Romney's conference call yesterday against the backdrop of Atwater's comments.
posted by professor plum with a rope at 1:47 AM on November 16, 2012 [55 favorites]


“That voter, in my judgment,” he claims, “will be more likely to vote his economic interests than he will anything else. And that is the voter that I think through a fairly slow but very steady process, will go Republican.” Because race no longer matters: “In my judgment Karl Marx [is right]... the real issues ultimately will be the economic issues.” He continues, in words that uncannily echo the “47 percent tape” (nothing new under the wingnut sun), that “statistically, as the number of non-producers in the system moves toward fifty percent,” the conservative coalition cannot but expand. Voila: a new Republican majority. Racism won't have anything to do with it.

What Atwater is saying seems like a pretty honest assessment. The Republicans have been fighting a class struggle which according to strict Marxist ideology is the only legitimate basis for revolution. The trick has been to convince the white, working-class that their interests are aligned with those of the outsourcing 1% GOP establishment. The GOP have largely succeeded with this since Reagan. Reagan used the "welfare queen" rhetoric and that worked back then, but the GOP needed to make this a more inclusive message. This is what Atwater seems to be saying.

The use of a different n-word - "non-producer" - rather than being a racial dog whistle, is just a generic re-branding of the economic message. It is less off-putting and it seems also more honestly descriptive of the class-struggle which is really being waged by the GOP.

We will see it in the coming weeks as the tax cuts for the 1% are defended by the GOP to its rank and file along the lines of: "You're next. When they run out of rich people's money, the 'non producers' are coming for your money."

Funny that American Democrats are so imbued by race they can't see an honest class struggle in front of their eyes and thus do the Whites continue to beat the Reds at their own game.
posted by three blind mice at 1:48 AM on November 16, 2012 [35 favorites]


but he seems like a dick.

He certainly was. Then he got the fear -- brain cancer, conversion to Catholicism, apologies to his enemies (who were nice people) for being such an outright asshole his whole life -- and died.
posted by pracowity at 1:52 AM on November 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's so weird to hear it from the horse's mouth. Like I've spent most of my adolescent/adult life convincing myself and trying to convince others that these kinds of dogwhistles and this kind of rhetoric masks a type of racism that has material consequences for a democratic society, that it's not just about "those" people or "good" POC and "bad" POC, real Americans vs. freeloaders, it's about pushing an agenda that seeps into the discourse at all levels and legitimizes as "reasonable" the voice of (white) entitlement over the voice of compassion-- and then a guy just admits it. (By "then" I mean not actually within my own coming of age, but before I was even born.)

It's funny, because I have these kinds of crises about the oppressions that affect my own personal life (sexism and classism primarily) and at times I profoundly doubt and waver in my convictions, thinking maybe I am just playing a rhetorical game after all, splitting hairs, looking for hate that doesn't exist, but it turns out the entire strategy hinges on providing some kind of plausible deniability (not direct hate speech, room to squirm) while working as hard as possible to shape a dominant narrative that puts certain problematic elements in their place. And when someone like this just says so, "yes, that's what we're doing," I feel so much less insane.
posted by stoneandstar at 2:17 AM on November 16, 2012 [31 favorites]


Not really surprising, since Lee Atwater, as Bush I's campaign manager, was responsible for the Willie Horton attack ads against Dukakis.
posted by KokuRyu at 2:18 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


This is what secession is about. This is what the hyped up fear of "Agenda 21" is about. This is what "our ancestors fled the cities" is about. It's about racism and the desire to maintain white supremacy. The way things are going, white people will be one more group at a round table, and not the "head of the table." Not normative. Some people can't handle that, and as a result, they are willing to block all the necessary political and economic changes that we have to make if we are going to survive global warming and peak oil. They'll try to force us to commit national suicide, (and maybe, global suicide) rather than give up their hegemony. These are the kinds of people who would secede, or stage a coup if they thought they could get away with it.

We can't let that happen.
posted by wuwei at 2:29 AM on November 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


Well, not to worry, they spent $3B and still lost the election. Kind of makes you wonder about how monolithic (and competent) the Right is, eh?
posted by KokuRyu at 2:38 AM on November 16, 2012 [9 favorites]


That's the problem. Romney was a numbers guy, and no slouch. Made a lot of money at Bain Capital. Reportedly ran the SLC Olympic effort well also. Whether I agree with his politics and business practices or not (I don't) the fact is he knew how to look at the data and make decisions.

Or he used to. Word is that Romney was shocked by his loss. How did that happen? Because the conservative movement has closed itself off from reality. They're breathing their own exhaust. This is dangerous, because that means they could delude themselves into thinking that they could succeed in a coup or secession move.
posted by wuwei at 2:45 AM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


[This needs to not become another post-election rehash. The post links to an historically important artifact and a good supporting article that explains the context, and there's a lot of discussion that can be offered about the actual posted material. If you want to talk primarily about Romney and the 2012 election, we have open threads where that is happening. Thanks. ]
posted by taz at 2:50 AM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


There is great value in these moments of history where truth is spoken. The White House Transcripts have been helpful in interpreting current politics. Nixon yelling at Dean about how Dean shouldn't have told him a piece of information, since now he couldn't deny knowing it. The conversation about throwing John Mitchell to the wolves. Reading what Dean said, knowing he was the first to grab the 'get out of jail free' ring, which meant he gave evidence against the rest of the crew.

These doses of reality help to incoculate us against the public words of political operatives, which are so often meant to distract rather than elucidate.
posted by dragonsi55 at 3:11 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


The irony is that soon a group of Hispanics, blacks and Asians will be having a similar conversation about whites. They might not be as polite about it though.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 3:19 AM on November 16, 2012


What scares me also about this "strategy" from the Right is now that it doesn't work, REALLY doesn't work come election time, what a group with this mindset will use as their next go-to scheme. Where do you go next when economic and racial baiting, however subtly advocated, doesn't advance your agenda? It's not like they're known for any moral or ethical reasoning in this arena.

I hope to God they stay locked in the sauna with their focus groups and eventually pass out.
posted by Lipstick Thespian at 3:23 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


James Carter IV,
FTW.

Seriously, how fucking cool _is_ this guy? "I have a certain measure of name recognition, what should I do with that? Sex tape? Infomercial/QVC? Oh hey, I got an idea I'll put a little effort into exposing the moral bankruptcy at the heart of the Republican party's behavior of the last 30+ years!"

I mean, how do I support this guy?
posted by From Bklyn at 3:33 AM on November 16, 2012 [62 favorites]


If you haven't seen Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, do.

Lee Atwater is proof that if you are willing to say or do anything, you will be successful in modern Republican politics. Hey, Karl Rove just paid himself millions as a consultant to his SuperPacs. Somewhere Lee is smiling and wishing he was alive for the giant payday.
posted by readery at 4:16 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


So it's satisfying that in the 2012 election, Lee Atwater's strategy has finally come around to bite the republicans in the ass. It's been forty years since Nixon started it with his southern strategy, it'll probably be another forty before Republicans get any significant black votes.
posted by octothorpe at 4:38 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


in the 2012 election, Lee Atwater's strategy has finally come around to bite the republicans in the ass.

I won't believe that until/unless they fail to find a way to bite us back in 2014.
posted by oneswellfoop at 4:40 AM on November 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


> You start out in 1954 by saying, “N-----, n-----, n-----.”

Someone is going to turn this into an awesome sample.
posted by The Card Cheat at 5:03 AM on November 16, 2012 [13 favorites]


When he signed the act he was euphoric, but late that very night I found him in a melancholy mood as he lay in bed reading the bulldog edition of the Washington Post with headlines celebrating the day. I asked him what was troubling him. "I think we just delivered the South to the Republican party for a long time to come," he said.

Bill Moyers in his book Moyers on America on LBJ following the signing of the 1964 Civil Rights Bill...
posted by jim in austin at 5:06 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]



>> You start out in 1954 by saying, “N-----, n-----, n-----.”
> Someone is going to turn this into an awesome sample.


My brain has been quietly singing “N-----, n-----, n-----, come back to me" to Leonard Cohen each time I read that line.
It has been entirely disturbing.

And, while I am here, let me fix this:
If you haven't seen Boogie Man Nights: The Lee Atwater Story, do.
posted by Mezentian at 5:08 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I think the Nation's paraphrase is a bit unfair. The elided part is crucial to his intended meaning, which is that these kinds of racial appeals are doomed.

Remember, at the end of his life, Atwater repented.
posted by gerryblog at 5:09 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why was Bill Moyers hanging out in Lyndon's bedroom at night?
posted by item at 5:09 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


I guess they had telephones in the 1960's, but that's like the least fun way of explaining it.
posted by item at 5:13 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why was Bill Moyers hanging out in Lyndon's bedroom at night?

If Robert Caro is to be believed, LBJ sometimes had trouble falling asleep at night, and had staffers sit with him until he was truly asleep. LBJ also held meetings in bed (and on the toilet), although given the dynamic that existed between JFK's crew (of which Moyers was a member) and LBJ, it's doubtful that LBJ would have tormented Moyers like he did all of his other staff.

So, in short, LBJ was, as was his custom, holding a meeting while laying in bed.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:14 AM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


When Lyndon B. Johnson took office after the Kennedy assassination, Moyers became a special assistant to Johnson, serving from 1963 to 1967. He played a key role in organizing and supervising the 1964 Great Society legislative task forces and was a principal architect of Johnson's 1964 presidential campaign. Moyers acted as the President's informal chief of staff from October 1964 until 1966. From July 1965 to February 1967, he also served as White House press secretary.[2] - Wikipedia
posted by jim in austin at 5:14 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


If Robert Caro is to be believed, LBJ sometimes had trouble falling asleep at night

Being a stone cold killer will do that to you.
posted by spitbull at 5:16 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


In addition to being evil, Lee Atwater also played backup for Percy Sledge and founded the Red, Hot, and Blue chain of restaurants. I mean, it doesn't make him not evil, only slightly more interesting.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:20 AM on November 16, 2012


Remember, at the end of his life, Atwater repented.
Yeah...well...An asshole repenting just before he dies is just as much an asshole move as his actions throughout the rest of his life. You don't get to fuck millions of people over all your adult life and then get off with a deathbed "My bad."
posted by Thorzdad at 5:21 AM on November 16, 2012 [32 favorites]


You don't get to fuck millions of people over all your adult life and then get off with a deathbed "My bad."

While I tend to agree with this, it's worth remembering that there are millions of Christians who devoutly believe otherwise.
posted by localroger at 5:25 AM on November 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


You don't get to fuck millions of people over all your adult life and then get off with a deathbed "My bad."

While I tend to agree with this, it's worth remembering that there are millions of Christians who devoutly believe otherwise.


I also think it's really trick to try to judge other people's sincerity in terms of this sort of conversion. There's not really anyway to know whether or not he means it, and the fact that he's doing it on his death bed doesn't seem to be evidence either way, since facing down death actually does change people. You get a similar dynamic with people like Michael Vick, and there's just no way to know. I tend to take people at their word, but I understand why others don't.

It also matters less for someone like Lee Atwater, because he's dead. Hate living people that keep using these tactics, but hating the dead just seems like a waste.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 5:31 AM on November 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


On the Atwater repenting angle, I've goolged but I can't find it - the other day on NPR someone was talking with someone else who I think had/ had just written a book about Atwater and he mentions that Atwater 'repented' but never actually said, like 'sorry' or 'what I did was fucked up.' And I don't think the person relating this had any vested interest in tarnishing the vaunted 'Atwater repented' story.

Maybe someone else can find that link.
posted by From Bklyn at 5:38 AM on November 16, 2012


Wow, I always assumed that the "Nigger nigger" excerpt was from some comedian, maybe Bill Hicks or someone bitter like that. It was actually from one of the most powerful Republican strategists of modern times? Damn, that is fucked.
posted by Scientist at 5:39 AM on November 16, 2012


>If Robert Caro is to be believed, LBJ sometimes had trouble falling asleep at night

Being a stone cold killer will do that to you.


The triumph of passing Civil Rights (the context of the anecdote above) occurred before LBJ started ordering carpet bombing of Indochina.
posted by KokuRyu at 5:40 AM on November 16, 2012


It is possible to give Lee Atwater the benefit of the doubt for a repentance that happened 20 years ago while at the same time holding modern-day Republicans accountable for not demanding better of their party today.

(And for the record - those of you Republicans who didn't know that your party leaders were thinking this way? Fair enough - but now you do, and let's see what you do about it.)
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 5:45 AM on November 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


While I tend to agree with this, it's worth remembering that there are millions of Christians who devoutly believe otherwise.

Why limit your comments? This is what most people believe, whether or not the "my bad" is religious in nature.
posted by Inspector.Gadget at 5:45 AM on November 16, 2012


Repenting at the end counts for something.

But not as much as simply not doing it or repenting before you know your ticket is up and you're about to be judged.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:04 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Btw, several excerpts from "Boogie Man" on the PBS site here.
posted by taz at 6:12 AM on November 16, 2012


His story is a constant reminder that when you make a career out of doing a lot of shitty things to a lot of people, a deathbed repentance may give you peace, but your actions are never forgotten.
posted by runningdogofcapitalism at 6:12 AM on November 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Then he got the fear -- brain cancer, conversion to Catholicism, apologies to his enemies (who were nice people) for being such an outright asshole his whole life -- and died.

He apologized to Willie Horton but not a word to Michael Dukakis. He was a cynic, no, a nihilist to the end. To call him a cynic is to besmirch the tradition of Diogenes. Classical cynicism was all about telling the truth. Atwater lied to the grave.
posted by y2karl at 6:13 AM on November 16, 2012 [8 favorites]


Funny that American Democrats are so imbued by race they can't see an honest class struggle in front of their eyes and thus do the Whites continue to beat the Reds at their own game.

It's not that weird when you consider that in our national history, one race spent a lot of time and energy making sure that other races remained at the bottom of the class barrel.

Dems aren't the only ones "imbued" by race. The post-election Republican hand-wringing about "changing demographics" is pretty explicit about this. This recent Daily Show clip is pretty on point. (May not be viewable in all places.)
posted by rtha at 6:17 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Besides, it was the Democrats from the South (including Strom Thurmond, who joined the Republican Party in 1964) that opposed Civil Rights. The Republicans were "the party of Lincoln" at one time.
posted by KokuRyu at 6:19 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The triumph of passing Civil Rights (the context of the anecdote above) occurred before LBJ started ordering carpet bombing of Indochina.

Indeed. If it were not for his part in the war in Viet Nam, Johnson's face would be on a coin or denomination of paper money for his part in passing the Civil Rights Act, the Voting Rights act, Medicare, Medicaid, to name but a few parts of his legacy.
posted by y2karl at 6:22 AM on November 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


What are these 'gifts' I keep hearing about? This is the new sour-grape right-wing craziness, eh? Are they talking about the iPhone hoax or are they positioning things like education and healthcare as 'gifts' now? Either way, fuck you, and give back the elephant as your symbol as you are besmirching its noble reputation. Plus elephants are notably memorious, unlike most modern republicans.
posted by Mister_A at 6:33 AM on November 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


Besides, it was the Democrats from the South (including Strom Thurmond, who joined the Republican Party in 1964) that opposed Civil Rights. The Republicans were "the party of Lincoln" at one time.

I believe the New Deal was when African-Americans switched parties in large numbers, motivated basically by class interest. (Let's be clear, though, if you have view the US as having more than two classes, the New Deal was in everyone's class interest, except the top class.)

Republicans were unelectable in parts of the south until the last 20 years or so because they were the "party of Lincoln", which is why there were all these 'false' Democrats, who were really in the wrong party, but couldn't switch because (white) people were apparently still bitter about slavery or something.
posted by hoyland at 6:37 AM on November 16, 2012


What are these 'gifts' I keep hearing about?

"Free" contraception for women.
"Free" healthcare.
"Free" interest on college student loans.

Did you not get your goodie bag?!
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 6:37 AM on November 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


What are these 'gifts' I keep hearing about? This is the new sour-grape right-wing craziness, eh? Are they talking about the iPhone hoax or are they positioning things like education and healthcare as 'gifts' now?

I had an epiphany this morning; thinking about this, and about something I read in an earlier thread about Libertarianism. A libertarian in the thread made the argument that if their tax burden had been lightened, they would personally be free to give even more money towards charitable purposes.

But it occurred to me this morning - there wouldn't be as great a need for charity if the government was better able to care for its citizens.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:39 AM on November 16, 2012 [19 favorites]


OK got it, it is education and healthcare. No white people will benefit from that, I guess? And if they do they're entitled to it somehow? By being white?

I have made a conscious effort to understand the conservative mindset and engage with some of their positions in a good faith and positive way, but when I hear this from their leadership, well, fuck that. They're idiots destined for the dustbin of history, and good riddance.
posted by Mister_A at 6:39 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Ni! Ni! Ni!
posted by miyabo at 6:41 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


What are these 'gifts' I keep hearing about

Pretty typical bribe-type stuff: Federal contracting changes. Credit card reform. Obamacare. Medicare expansion. Increased VA funding. Increased VAWA funding. Eased travel restrictions to Cuba.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 6:41 AM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


If Robert Caro is to be believed, LBJ sometimes had trouble falling asleep at night

Having just read Caro's latest instalment, I can give you chapter and verse on this one:
On Saturday night [23 Nov 1963, the day after Kennedy's assassination], after a twelve-hour working day, Johnson was having dinner at The Elms with Busby and Thornberry. At dinner, he was rather quiet, in a mood Busby recognised. "He was thinking things through," he says. "Very intense. You could smell wood burning." Going upstairs after dinner, he asked Busby to sit in his bedroom until he had fallen asleep, and after the lights had been turned out, Busby did that, until, after about a half hour of silence, he thought it was safe to leave, and started tiptoeing toward the door.

"Buzz," said Lyndon Johnson's voice out of the darkness. "Buzz, is that you?" And when Buzz said that it was, the voice said, "Buzz, I'm not asleep yet."

Returning to his chair, Buzz waited for a while longer, but again, when he tried to leave, Johnson asked, "Buzz, are you still there?" Busby assured him he was, and that he had just been walking over to the window to adjust a curtain. It took several more attempts, and several more "Buzz, are you still theres?" before he finally made it out of the room. He had done it before, when Lyndon Johnson found it hard to get to sleep. "Anything I could do to gentle him down," he says. "His mind just wouldn't stop working, working, working."
It doesn't suggest that working for LBJ was much fun. But I think Caro wants to use the anecdote to make a point about Johnson's profound insecurity and craving for reassurance.
posted by verstegan at 6:43 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


He was a cynic, no, a nihilist to the end.

Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:45 AM on November 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


This isn't about party politics, but seems as good a place as any to link these. Buzzfeed collated a bunch of racist tweets found on MLK Day and via a friend on facebook I just saw this: Hello There, Racists. these examples are shocking to me in a way I can't quite pinpoint. I know racism exists, but I'm used to it being hidden in the way that Atwater talks about or encountering it as a sort of casual undertone in a conversation that people might not even realize they're implying. But here there's extremely hateful and violent language published in a very public way by people who look like anyone you'd meet on the street. I guess I've sort of "othered" (for lack of a better term) racists, thinking that it's a problem somewhere, but in some place and among some people much removed from where I am.
posted by msbrauer at 6:57 AM on November 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


From Wikipedia:
Ed Rollins, however, stated in the 2008 documentary Boogie Man: The Lee Atwater Story, that "[Atwater] was telling this story about how a Living Bible was what was giving him faith and I said to Mary (Matalin), 'I really, sincerely hope that he found peace.' She said, 'Ed, when we were cleaning up his things afterwards, the Bible was still wrapped in the cellophane and had never been taken out of the package,' which just told you everything there was. He was spinning right to the end."
posted by rewil at 7:14 AM on November 16, 2012 [31 favorites]


I wish I had some idea what it would take to turn that kind of hate. It sounds for all the world like the growling an insecure dog makes when you approach its bowl. What do you do when a human acts like an abused dog?
posted by Mooski at 7:17 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm not saying you should go around calling people 'nigger', but I don't see any reason to censor 'nigger' in quotes. He said 'nigger', I want to read that he said 'nigger', I want everyone to read that.
posted by yonega at 7:25 AM on November 16, 2012 [18 favorites]


What are these 'gifts' I keep hearing about? This is the new sour-grape right-wing craziness, eh?

I think "gifts" is code for "Welfare"...Which is itself used as a code word to mean "Dark people taking my money"

"Gifts" could also mean "Used the law to protect their voting rights"
posted by Thorzdad at 7:27 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Lee Atwater is proof that if you are willing to say or do anything, you will be successful in modern Republican politics.

I've heard it said that Rove's successes stemmed from not being some kind of political genius, but rather being a person who was willing to do and say what other people wouldn't in his drive to win elections. When average people aren't willing to "go there", Karl is. To wit:
[Judge Mark] Kennedy's campaign commercials touted his volunteer work, including one that showed him holding hands with children. "We were trying to counter the positives from that ad," a former Rove staffer told me, explaining that some within the See camp initiated a whisper campaign that Kennedy was a pedophile. "It was our standard practice to use the University of Alabama Law School to disseminate whisper-campaign information," the staffer went on. "That was a major device we used for the transmission of this stuff. The students at the law school are from all over the state, and that's one of the ways that Karl got the information out—he knew the law students would take it back to their home towns and it would get out." This would create the impression that the lie was in fact common knowledge across the state. "What Rove does," says Joe Perkins, "is try to make something so bad for a family that the candidate will not subject the family to the hardship. Mark is not your typical Alabama macho, beer-drinkin', tobacco-chewin', pickup-drivin' kind of guy. He is a small, well-groomed, well-educated family man, and what they tried to do was make him look like a homosexual pedophile.
Your average campaign manager, no matter how ruthless, isn't going to try to head off an opponent's positives regarding his work with children and families by portraying him as a pedophile. But Rove was willing to do that, and that gave him a competitive advantage. Atwater was cut from the same cloth.
posted by deanc at 7:33 AM on November 16, 2012 [10 favorites]


He said 'n-----', I want to read that he said '-----', I want everyone to read that.

That's nice, but not everyone wants to, the word has such baggage and they can get the idea just fine without explicitly saying and writing the word.

I'm not saying any particular view is correct, just that there are multiple views and not spelling out the "n word" seems to be the least disruptive way of getting the point across of whatever the original quote was.
posted by Brandon Blatcher at 7:47 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Republicans After "Gifts" Comment: Get Off The Stage, Mitt
posted by tzikeh at 7:47 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Well, not to worry, they spent $3B and still lost the election

Yeah, that's why they lose. Morality aside, it's far more inefficient to go out of your way to hassle someone and try to get cute in using the law to marginalize a select group.

The film "Conspiracy" is a great take on this. Nazis sitting around the table talking about the final solution and the rational ones (as rational as they can be for Nazis) arguing that putting so much emphasis on killing the Jews hampers production for the war effort, destroys morale, destroys the legitimacy of law, etc. etc. (all apart from the genocide itself). The more fanatic ones charge ahead disregarding the inevitable legal, social, economic, and physical catastrophe to follow.

That's nice, but not everyone wants to, the word has such baggage


Gotta go with Louis C.K. on this.
posted by Smedleyman at 7:55 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Lee Atwater is proof that if you are willing to say or do anything, you will be successful in modern Republican politics.

You see this particularly in their pundits; you don't become a success as a right-wing commentator with thoughtful, reasoned analysis -- quite the contrary, that will get you put out on the ice floes like Bill Buckley was. You get on the air by saying something just that much crazier and more paranoid than anyone else did that week.

But it's starting to look a little played; if you keep moving right you end up not just on the fringe but actually becoming the fringe: the median perspective of a Fox News viewer is at this point roughly that of Victoria Jackson or that lady who said "Terrorist Fist Bump" on the air. And if operating at that level of cognitive dysfunction is a both a defining and inescapable characteristic of your movement, the necessary consequence of simply not being able to operate effectively in the real world or reach anyone who lives in it is going to keep you from accomplishing your aims.

Even if your aim is nothing but to make everyone else fail, which is what they've been reduced to for several years now. If they still had a numerical majority in their target demographic there are avenues to power they could still follow. But they've been breathing their own farts in the Fox bubble for too long, they no longer know what America looks like. In the end, targeting (non-insane) women as well as minorities was their undoing. Sad to say, i think you can probably still win as the White People's party in America, perhaps for a little bit longer. But they went too far and tried to win as the White Men's party, and that -- let's be grateful for the small mercies we grant ourselves as a culture -- will probably never work again.
posted by George_Spiggott at 8:03 AM on November 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I know I've read or heard this before. Was it in the Atwater doc, or maybe Oliver Stone's W?
posted by Sys Rq at 8:10 AM on November 16, 2012


The quote is old and well-known, Sys Rq, it's just that we didn't know anyone had an audio recording of it.
posted by introp at 8:14 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Oh.
posted by Sys Rq at 8:19 AM on November 16, 2012


The War Room documentary and Mary Matalin and James Carville's book All's Fair, both about the 1992 campaign, had a profound impact on my perceptions of U.S. campaigns, elections, and the two political parties. In the book, Mary Matalin (Atwater's deputy and disciple) describes a moment of intense internal debate within the G.H.W. Bush campaign about touching the the "tar baby" [sic] of Buchanan's campaign, and she "jokes" in exasperation to Torie Clark that "our party IS a bunch of homophobic bigots!"

20 years later, it still astounds me.
posted by argonauta at 8:29 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


...before LBJ started ordering carpet bombing of Indochina.

Let it be noted, too, that the carpet bombing of the Plain of Jars in Laos in 1969, the carpet bombing of Cambodia in 1970 and the carpet bombing of Hanoi and Haiphong in 1972 happened after Johnson was long out of office. Johnson has much to answer regarding the war in Viet Nam but the carpet bombing was on Nixon's dime.
posted by y2karl at 8:48 AM on November 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Nihilists! Fuck me. I mean, say what you like about the tenets of National Socialism, Dude, at least it's an ethos.

“There have been many attempts to define Russian nihilism, but I think Nikolai Strakhov came close to the truth when he said that ‘nihilism itself hardly exists, although there is no denying the fact that nihilists do.’ Nihilism was not so much a corpus of formal beliefs and programs (like populism, liberalism, Marxism) as it was a cluster of attitudes and social values and a set of behavioral affects—manners, dress, friendship patterns. In short, it was an ethos.”1

1. Richard Stites, The Women's Liberation Movement in Russia: Feminism, Nihilism, and Bolshevism, 1860-1930 (Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1978) p. 99-100
posted by perhapses at 9:12 AM on November 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


If Walter Sobchak is wrong, then I don't want to be right.
posted by tonycpsu at 9:21 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


What's really sad to me is all the wide-eyed people my age (20s) and younger who eat up stuff like the Ron Paul BS because they can't hear the Atwater dogwhistling in the "state's rights" nonsense. "No, see, it's about liberty!"

I also think it's really trick to try to judge other people's sincerity in terms of this sort of conversion....It also matters less for someone like Lee Atwater, because he's dead. Hate living people that keep using these tactics, but hating the dead just seems like a waste.
Bulgaroktonos

No, sorry. It's not a matter of sincerity; I don't buy this repentance bullshit. The dead don't become better because they're dead. Atwater literally left the world a worse place for his existence. He was a piece of shit and should be forever remember and reviled as such. It's nice if he really was sorry in the end, but it changes nothing.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:26 AM on November 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I've been saying for years that there is no working with these people. They don't respect that. They don't want that. They have no interest in governance at all. They are interested in power. You don't gain power by sharing it, and you don't compromise with the enemy. Two words: Jon Huntsman.

I am sorry about that. But it's the truth. I grew up drinking their kool-aid. I know how they think.

You have to stomp on their figurative, collective neck with the heel of your boot, and crush them. They might squeal and beg and plead, but the moment you relent, they will spring up and stab you with a shiv.
posted by Xoebe at 9:29 AM on November 16, 2012 [6 favorites]


Though it's been suggested that puppeteer Paul Fusco was parodying a then-recent episode of LA Law involving Tourette's syndrome, I can now just as easily see the 'nigger nigger nigger' exclamation in this infamous ALF outtake as a reference to Atwater's awful rant.

(interesting-to-probably-only-me-anecdote: in early 1998, the very first items I purchased on eBay were a lot of maybe 25 or 30 vintage DEVO pinbacks for the measly sum of $6, an assortment of antique human rib bones that I gave to girls I was interested in to help judge what level of weirdness they'd be willing to put up with, and for $20 a VHS cassette tape marked 'ALF Outtakes' that contained 2 hours of the most insane on-set bad craziness, including first-gen footage of the aforementioned 'Tourette's ALF' that became a viral sensation 12 years down the road. Unfortunately I either lost or loaned the tape out to the wrong person and I haven't seen it in years, which is too bad as the racial remarks were really just the tip of the ol' Melmacian iceberg. There was some seriously fucked-up shit on that tape, a fun thing to drag out at 5:45 a.m. to entertain people who were winding down after a night of debauched debauchery.)
posted by item at 9:34 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


No, sorry. It's not a matter of sincerity; I don't buy this repentance bullshit. The dead don't become better because they're dead. Atwater literally left the world a worse place for his existence. He was a piece of shit and should be forever remember and reviled as such. It's nice if he really was sorry in the end, but it changes nothing.

The point of forgiveness is that you have to give people room to change or they have no reason to. If you are relentlessly unforgiving of people who have done evil then you are insisting that they stay evil and that is surely worse. Atwater with cancer sought forgiveness and laid bare the mechanics of his evil. That is not insignificant. It doesn't make up for what he did throughout his life but it does provide some benefit. Without the hope for forgiveness would that have happened?

Vengeance gets you nothing but more pain in the world. Forgiveness provides at least the possibility of something becoming better. Think of it as declaring bankruptcy of the soul.
posted by srboisvert at 9:35 AM on November 16, 2012 [11 favorites]


The point of forgiveness is that you have to give people room to change or they have no reason to. If you are relentlessly unforgiving of people who have done evil then you are insisting that they stay evil and that is surely worse.

No, this is the core fallacy that hampers the left. Xoebe is right. There is simply no reasoning or negotiating with these people. They have, repeatedly, over and over again, shown that they do not act in good faith. That they take every extension of an olive branch as a chance to harm. They hammer and hammer relentlessly while the left waffles and waffles and gets its ass kicked over and over.

So let them stay evil. I don't really care if they can or would become better or not. Too late for that. They need to be ground into rubble, and the rubble ground into powder. They need to be stomped like the insects they are, because when they aren't they hurt everyone.

This idea that we just need to talk to each other and make our case and reason will win the day because our case is stronger is simply a fantasy we need to move past.

Atwater with cancer sought forgiveness and laid bare the mechanics of his evil. That is not insignificant. It doesn't make up for what he did throughout his life but it does provide some benefit. Without the hope for forgiveness would that have happened?

It is utterly insignificant. The truth would have come out regardless. This very post is about the full Atwater interview being uncovered by a reporter. The truth about his and other Republican mechanics would be uncovered. The only difference would we wouldn't have wonder whether Atwater really changed or not.
posted by Sangermaine at 9:43 AM on November 16, 2012 [7 favorites]


I'm with srboisvert here. As Solzhenitsyn wisely wrote (and who could know more than he?), "If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?"

I don't forgive Atwater to let my guard down. I forgive him for himself and in forgiving him I pity him, for he has revealed the inhumanity of his own humanity for what it is -- an aberration of the soul. Without this, there is no hope and there is only evil in the world which we will constantly fight until the world dies.
posted by dhartung at 9:46 AM on November 16, 2012 [15 favorites]


This isn't about party politics, but seems as good a place as any to link these.

Thanks for the link, msbrauer. There's a reaction on ReadWriteWeb to these links that, IMO, misses the point, but maybe I'm missing the point...so here it is.
posted by stannate at 9:51 AM on November 16, 2012


It doesn't make up for what he did throughout his life but it does provide some benefit. Without the hope for forgiveness would that have happened?

He was on his deathbed. If he'd begged forgiveness at a point in his life where he would have had the time and opportunity to do the actual (very hard, very painful) work of trying to undo at least some of the damage he'd done, I'd be willing to cut him more slack. I guess I'm glad he came to any sort of realization at all. But it was awfully little and awfully late.
posted by rtha at 9:52 AM on November 16, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sometimes forgiveness isn't about "aw, shucks, he said he was sorry and that makes everything all better now!" Sometimes forgiveness is about "well, he's dead now so he can't do anything any more anyway, so I'll just let it go and go work on the people who are still alive."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:11 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


No, sorry. It's not a matter of sincerity; I don't buy this repentance bullshit. The dead don't become better because they're dead. Atwater literally left the world a worse place for his existence. He was a piece of shit and should be forever remember and reviled as such. It's nice if he really was sorry in the end, but it changes nothing.

Isn't saying "I don't buy it" making it explicitly about sincerity? I'm coming from a perspective where I assume that people will be forgiven for their wrong deeds if they are sincere in realizing that they were wrong and do what they can to make amends. From this perspective, death bed conversions are tricky because it's hard to judge sincerity and there's no chance to make amends. That said, I'm not going to refuse my forgiveness to everyone who repents on their deathbed, because some people might genuinely realize that they were wrong at that point in their lives. Maybe my assumption was wrong, maybe people believe that everyone is sum of the all of the evil things they did in their life, no matter what they later come to think about those deeds. Is that what you mean by "I don't buy this repentance bullshit"?

That just seems like a needlessly negative and depressing way to go through life. I get to my perspective from a religious position, but it's also true that holding on to resentments has negative health effects. Obviously, I'm not saying that you need to forgive everyone all the time, but when people are sincere and do what they can to ameliorate their negative actions, I think it's worth it.

I also didn't mean to suggest that the dead become better because they're dead; they don't. It's just that hating dead people is a stupid way to spend your time. You can't change them, and they don't care. Like I said, hate people who are still doing this today. Denounce them, point out what they're doing wrong. That can have a positive effect on the world. Hating someone who's been dead for 20 years doesn't do anything.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 10:13 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Seconding the recommendation above for the documentary Boogie Man - it is SO GOOD (and available streaming on Netflix). The last 10-20 minutes are about his deathbed "repentance" - some of the people interviewed (people including people who were close to Atwater) don't think he was sincere, that it was just one more cynical game for him. There's an anecdote about his Bible being found still in its packaging, unopened, after his death. I certainly can't claim to know what was in Atwater's heart at the end of his life, but the fact that even some who knew him well doubted the sincerity of his remorse does add an interesting wrinkle to the story.
posted by naoko at 10:18 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The thing about deathbed repentance is that it is no repentance at all: it comes only at the moment when you most literally and inescapably have nothing left to gain by being an asshole. If the only time you'll stop doing vile shit to others and to the world is when it is by definition impossible to benefit from it anymore, you haven't repented. You're just scared of Hell.
posted by George_Spiggott at 10:18 AM on November 16, 2012 [25 favorites]


You are correct, sir! /Ed McMahon
posted by y2karl at 10:25 AM on November 16, 2012


Guys, I'm not sure Atwater was literally on his deathbed when he reformed. More like, "he reformed when he found out the cancer was terminal but still had a couple months left in him".
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:25 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Which means he had two whole more months to unwrap his Bible.
posted by y2karl at 10:31 AM on November 16, 2012 [5 favorites]


You have to stomp on their figurative, collective neck with the heel of your boot, and crush them. They might squeal and beg and plead, but the moment you relent, they will spring up and stab you with a shiv.

Gandhi managed, and without curbstomping (literally or figuratively) anyone I'm aware of. I'm pretty well versed on the whole 'cut out the cancer' philosophy, and it could be you're right; I just wonder if there's a more elegant answer.
posted by Mooski at 10:33 AM on November 16, 2012


Repentance and God's grace are between you and your fluffy creator. Humans can still think you're a jerk, and they're not obligated to think better of you. If you're sincere about your repentance, you'll accept that - it's a Fisher King kind of thing, where it's only real if you freely disclaim the worldly rewards.
posted by Sticherbeast at 10:34 AM on November 16, 2012


> Sometimes forgiveness is about "well, he's dead now so he can't do anything any more anyway, so I'll just let it go and go work on the people who are still alive."

Ceasing to care about someone evil who has died is not at all the same as forgiveness.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:38 AM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


Mooski,
Gandhi was not as important as the millions of people who followed him. One man doing peaceful sit ins and non-violent demonstrations is a statistic. A million is a revolution. Hence why the British gave up and went home. While non-violence is wonderful when you can garner enough critical mass to support it, it does very little when you can't overwhelm the amount of force your opponents can wield against you. The failure of the student protests and almost every peaceful protest movement in the 20th century (especially in the U.S.) is due primarily in the ability of the state to overwhelm the meager number of protesters with a smaller but well armed and well trained police force. Well, at least well armed and willing to bash heads police force. The austerity riots in the Eurozone are going to prove this as well. They'll protest and the cops will bash heads and we'll see more and more videos of brutality, but because the protestors are not overwhelmingly immovable and scatter and can be arrested in large numbers so easily, it will most likely fail.
posted by daq at 11:09 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


'Ed, when we were cleaning up his things afterwards, the Bible was still wrapped in the cellophane and had never been taken out of the package,' which just told you everything there was. He was spinning right to the end."

I am not sure if Mary Matalin was using that as an example of Atwater's dishonesty about his deathbed conversion, or if that were her only evidence. I don't think it really matters anyway. But my step-father became more and more devout as a Catholic as the years passed (but very liberal politically). After he retired, he usually went to Mass in the evenings at least three or four times a week. But I never once saw him pick up or read a Bible outside of church. Now, my step-dad never went through a conversion back to Catholicism from a lapsed position, as Atwater did, but I can easily imagine how he might never have picked up the book upon which his faith was based and read it outside of a religious ceremony. The only reading material I ever saw in his hands was sports or news magazines, or the Farmer's Almanac. When my step-dad needed the reassurance of his faith, he either (silently) prayed or went to mass, rather than opening a book.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:19 AM on November 16, 2012


I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a thread about one of the vilest things ever said by a notorious reactionary jackstick turned into an opportunity for some liberals to tell others that they aren't forgiving enough of the people who want to see them suffer, but...actually, no, I am not surprised at all.
posted by adamdschneider at 11:22 AM on November 16, 2012


By the way, that is not in defense of Atwater as a political figure. He did extensive, chronic damage to our nation and society through his toxic political strategies. In a personal sense, I don't really know enough to say whether his religious faith were sincere, and it doesn't make much of a difference compared to the widespread and devastating effects of his political life.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:24 AM on November 16, 2012


And after watching Boogie Man, I came away with the notion that the "deathbed conversion" was for his children's sake. I don't think he gave a damn what people thought of him, but once he knew that his kids were too young to have many memories of him (one was an infant?) the attempt at making nice and leaving some kind of legacy besides being known as the most effective political lying asshole became a factor.
posted by readery at 11:29 AM on November 16, 2012


Ceasing to care about someone evil who has died is not at all the same as forgiveness.

It...kind of....can be. At least, "letting go of something" isn't necessarily "ceasing to care" - it's more of a deliberate choice to not dwell on something and move on.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:34 AM on November 16, 2012


No, this is the core fallacy that hampers the left. Xoebe is right. There is simply no reasoning or negotiating with these people. They have, repeatedly, over and over again, shown that they do not act in good faith. That they take every extension of an olive branch as a chance to harm. They hammer and hammer relentlessly while the left waffles and waffles and gets its ass kicked over and over.

You are confusing forgiveness with compromising and condoning.

These are very different things and in fact you can't forgive something you are willing to compromise on or condone.
posted by srboisvert at 11:36 AM on November 16, 2012


an opportunity for some liberals to tell others that they aren't forgiving enough of the people who want to see them suffer

If you're looking for opportunities to be either cynical or optimistic about human nature, you will always find many examples to confirm your suspicions or beliefs.
posted by krinklyfig at 11:36 AM on November 16, 2012


"You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nihilist, nihilist, nihilist.” By 1968 you can’t say “nihilist”—that hurts you, backfires."
posted by lekvar at 11:45 AM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


STRICTLY 4 MY N.I.H.I.L.I.Z.
posted by tonycpsu at 11:53 AM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Nihilists with attitude. Yo.
posted by rtha at 12:04 PM on November 16, 2012


I guess I shouldn't be surprised that a thread about one of the vilest things ever said by a notorious reactionary jackstick turned into an opportunity for some liberals to tell others that they aren't forgiving enough of the people who want to see them suffer, but...actually, no, I am not surprised at all.

I think I was the person who started that derail, so, sorry. I think you should listen to the audio (or find the whole quote) though before you declare this "one of the vilest things ever said," though. In the part of the quote that the Nation deliberately elides he makes very clear that he is not endorsing this line of thinking (anymore, at least) and that he thinks the increased abstraction of these appeals over time shows racism is doomed. There's a distinction there that I think the partial quote loses. Atwater here is being descriptive, not prescriptive; even in 1981, he thinks the game is already lost.

I don't think he needs to be forgiven, and don't think it matters anyway because he's dead. I do think we should be careful to get our facts right, though, because the right is actually persuadable on this issue for the first time in forever and I'd hate to blow it just because the two minutes hate went long.
posted by gerryblog at 12:15 PM on November 16, 2012 [2 favorites]


Sorry, not chastising you, gerryblog, just noticing the ol' circular firing squad again. I am curious why you think the right is persuadable on this issue "for the first time in forever," though.

As for the "vilest things" comment, I meant specifically of those things said by him, and I would be surprised if his repudiation (supposedly) of that line of thinking was anything other than totally pragmatic (i.e. not based in a personal belief that such thinking was wrong).
posted by adamdschneider at 12:23 PM on November 16, 2012


Atwater here is being descriptive, not prescriptive; even in 1981, he thinks the game is already lost.

It's true that's what he's saying here, but I think his conclusions are wrong. It's not that "race is going on the back burner", it's that the right got smarter about its racism. You can't outright say you hate blacks, so you keep couching it in ever more abstract terms whether it's the 80s "welfare queens" or the recent post-election conservative narrative about "takers" winning the election because of government "gifts". Racism is still the underlying driver, it's the rhetoric that changes. I think the real trick was the right learning to lie to itself about this.
posted by Sangermaine at 12:34 PM on November 16, 2012 [3 favorites]


This country has always been racist, it's racist today and I see nothing on the immediate horizon that will change things.

The political history of this country is really the history of its racism played out on a national stage.

From the drafting of the Constitution in a fashion that preserved slavery, to the Missouri Compromise, the Civil War, Reconstruction, Jim Crow laws, The Cloture Rules of the US Senate, segregation, school desegregation, the Civil Rights Movement, school busing in the north up to the deep cynicism displayed in Romney's 47% remarks -all oozing from the dark heart of the American experience.

What Lincoln said in his Second Inaugural:

Yet, if God wills that it (the Civil War) continue, until all the wealth piled by the bond-man's two hundred and fifty years of unrequited toil shall be sunk, and until every drop of blood drawn with the lash, shall be paid by another drawn with the sword, as was said three thousand years ago, so still it must be said "the judgments of the Lord, are true and righteous altogether"

about the wealth and blood holds true, we've not yet fully paid for the 250 years of slavery that was the foundation for the wealth and customs of a good part of this country.

Until we change as individuals, we won't change as a country.

Until then Lee Atwater's spiritual progeny will continue to disgrace this noble experiment.
posted by mygoditsbob at 12:42 PM on November 16, 2012


I am curious why you think the right is persuadable on this issue "for the first time in forever," though.

Because they finally looked at an electoral map and realized that if they stay a white supremacist party (to whatever coded or sublimated extent) they'll never win again. Right wing blogs are talking about race self-reflectively for the first time I can remember. I think this quote can be instructive -- here's one of your own explaining how this works -- but not if we misrepresent it so he becomes a cartoon racist from racism times. They just don't recognize that as a description of themselves, and they never will.
posted by gerryblog at 12:43 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


it's more of a deliberate choice to not dwell on something and move on.

Sorry, that's still nothing like forgiveness.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 1:13 PM on November 16, 2012


I think this quote can be instructive -- here's one of your own explaining how this works -- but not if we misrepresent it so he becomes a cartoon racist from racism times.

This, a million times.
posted by From Bklyn at 1:32 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


three blind mice:
What Atwater is saying seems like a pretty honest assessment. The Republicans have been fighting a class struggle which according to strict Marxist ideology is the only legitimate basis for revolution. The trick has been to convince the white, working-class that their interests are aligned with those of the outsourcing 1% GOP establishment. The GOP have largely succeeded with this since Reagan. Reagan used the "welfare queen" rhetoric and that worked back then, but the GOP needed to make this a more inclusive message. This is what Atwater seems to be saying.

The use of a different n-word - "non-producer" - rather than being a racial dog whistle, is just a generic re-branding of the economic message. It is less off-putting and it seems also more honestly descriptive of the class-struggle which is really being waged by the GOP.

We will see it in the coming weeks as the tax cuts for the 1% are defended by the GOP to its rank and file along the lines of: "You're next. When they run out of rich people's money, the 'non producers' are coming for your money."

Funny that American Democrats are so imbued by race they can't see an honest class struggle in front of their eyes and thus do the Whites continue to beat the Reds at their own game.
(stands, pauses, takes off hat and applauds slowly)
posted by IAmBroom at 1:54 PM on November 16, 2012


Inspector.Gadget: While I tend to agree with this, it's worth remembering that there are millions of Christians who devoutly believe otherwise.

Why limit your comments? This is what most people believe, whether or not the "my bad" is religious in nature.
Proof of assertion? AFAIK, most people believe in revenge, the wrongness of the "other", and that their own sins are explainable and thus forgivable (or unavoidable).

It's a tenet of Christianity, however; for instance William the Marshall fulfilled a vow he had made while on crusade, joining the morally strict and pauperous order of the Knights Templar on his deathbed.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:59 PM on November 16, 2012


Mister_A: Plus elephants are notably memorious, unlike most modern republicans.
Republicans use the ass as their symbol. Amusingly.
posted by IAmBroom at 2:01 PM on November 16, 2012


What are these 'gifts' I keep hearing about? This is the new sour-grape right-wing craziness, eh


What have the Romans ever done for us?!
posted by 4ster at 2:08 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The irony is that soon a group of Hispanics, blacks and Asians will be having a similar conversation about whites. They might not be as polite about it though.

I'm not so sure about this. Racial fear and paranoia seems to be an obsession with "white people" (I'm not really sure if there is such a thing as "race" and don't like classifying people according to skin colour).
posted by KokuRyu at 3:59 PM on November 16, 2012


I do think we should be careful to get our facts right, though, because the right is actually persuadable on this issue for the first time in forever and I'd hate to blow it just because the two minutes hate went long.

I think the undeniable demographic realities in front of them are much more persuasive than anything anyone says about it, whether they have their ducks in a row or not.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:05 PM on November 16, 2012


Republicans use the ass as their symbol. Amusingly.

Nope. That's the Democrats.
posted by dogrose at 4:22 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


The irony is that soon a group of Hispanics, blacks and Asians will be having a similar conversation about whites. They might not be as polite about it though.

Class struggles have often had racial elements in the US, these days in discussions about immigration and welfare, but this is from a position of privilege. There is no guarantee that the class structure will be turned upside down even if the racial demographics are. I don't think it's likely that "white" people are going to descend as a class or group relative to other races or cultural groups, just because they're no longer a majority. It's more likely IMO that people who were once seen as part of a powerless racial group will no longer (or far less often) be seen or treated that way due to race alone ... unless they are part of a group of newly arrived immigrants. But the tired old scapegoat of the illegal immigrant doesn't seem to be working as well for them and is even backfiring on the GOP these days, and that's a relief but it's about time anyway.
posted by krinklyfig at 4:35 PM on November 16, 2012


The end of a long, ugly road for the GOP’s Southern strategy

Southern Strategy: A Eulogy
posted by homunculus at 5:47 PM on November 16, 2012


Could he not simply have been a sociopath?

And in any case, shouldn't one deal with the right as if they are sociopathic? It's worth a try; results can't get any worse.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:15 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


One man doing peaceful sit ins and non-violent demonstrations is a statistic. A million is a revolution. Hence why the British gave up and went home.

Gandhi wasn't really the reason, or definitely not the only reason the British left India. WWII hurt their military presence there as well as their financial power to rule in the area.

Lots of interesting thoughts on this here.
posted by sweetkid at 9:53 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Remember, at the end of his life, Atwater repented.

And fortunately he died just in time, because he was already working on doing to Bill Clinton what he did to Michael Dukakis which he proudly described as "strip the bark off the little bastard" and "make Willie Horton his running mate." The '92 election might have turned out differently if Atwater was on his game.
posted by JackFlash at 10:21 PM on November 16, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh. What an interesting education it's been learning about Lee Atwater in this thread. Life changing for me. Thanks Pope Guilty for this informative post. I'd heard his name but had no idea about the vast extent of Atwater's impact on the United States.

I feel profound gratitude to James Carter IV for his activism. His Twitter account: JECarter4 (just tweeted him the url to this Mefi thread) | The Aimless Career of James Carter IV | on Politics Nation with @TheRevAl talking Mitt Romney, Lee Atwater and GOP dog-whistle politics at 9:15 on how he got hold of this Atwater interview.

Interesting thought about Atwater's supposed remorse on his deathbed: > The riveting documentary surmises that this could have been just another example of Atwater deception since the Bible he requested in his dying weeks remained covered in the cellophane it came in.

At the end of that PBS clip, at the 4:12 point, Howard Fineman says something brilliant about Atwater, a manipulation that I also recognized in the journalists I grew up around, who worked at Time magazine in the 1960's: "He used his own cynicism to anesthetize people to what was going on."

Having been a young political activist in NYC in the 1960's, I left America for London in 1970 and watched the Watergate scandal from there until it came to the Nixon resignation climax in 1974 and was then somewhat hopeful that America was headed in the right direction with the end of the Vietnam War, healthier Civil Rights, Women's Lib, rock n' roll, the beginning of government transparency with the Pentagon Papers. Then headed to South Asia in 1975 and lost touch with the West for a decade while living in India. I remember being up in the Himalayas in 1980 and hearing on the radio that Reagan had been elected and I was totally gobsmacked how the hell that happened.

On returning to NYC at the end of 1985 the American Reaganomics culture was by then intensely materialistic, fetishizing wealth and power, cocaine-driven at the top echelons, the stock market bizarrely run on smoke and mirrors, manufacturing increasingly outsourced at a giddy speed, no obvious political activism in the youth culture, corporatism was spreading exponentially. And what the hell happened to R&B music in the 80's? It seemed to have been erased. There was only Michael Jackson morphing into Liz Taylor and a big racial divide with hip-hop culture vs the Rick Astley, Celine, Madonna crowd. Things didn't made sense.

All this while, since I returned West in the mid-80's I had not - until this post and hearing the Atwater interview - been able to fathom how the hell that change occurred. Now I see Atwater's part in this. It was a malignant plan, a strategy, not something organic in the American culture. This was an evil manipulation by not just one sociopath, Atwater, but a gang of them, Dent, Reagan, the Bushes with Rove being mentored by this bastard. It wasn't even political in the real meaning of that word. It was cunning used to scapegoat one group of people - accusing black people of being do-nothing non-producers- and use that fear mongering for the rest of society to be bilked financially. It's spectacularly revolting.

Lee Atwater was a young political consultant from South Carolina who was the protégé of Mr. Harry S. Dent. From Wikipedia: > Mr. Dent has been described as having helped articulate the Southern strategy. Its detractors call it racism cloaked in code words like “law and order.” Its advocates call it a legitimate appeal to people left on the sidelines while other groups benefit from affirmative action and government aid programs.

I can see how this dovetails neatly with the elitist agenda of The Family.

Lee Atwater and the Destruction of Black Music

From that article a meaningful thought that makes such sense of Romney's dog whistle race baiting throughout this entire election and in his comments about why he lost to Obama: The whole point of using "race baiting" tactics in politics, isn't really to hurt Black folks. The point is to scare the hell out of white folks, into voting differently. You scare them by suggesting that anytime Black folks make any sort of advancement, the only way that can occur, is at the expense of white folks. Race baiting is a political strategy that is used all of the time, across the United States in all sorts of elections. It's usually most effective whenever Black folks are advancing and start to get a little bit too comfortable with their success. It's even more effective during challenging economic periods.
posted by nickyskye at 12:41 AM on November 17, 2012 [6 favorites]


After reading up a bit more, one thing I'm fairly convinced of is that Atwater was not a believer of any stripe, politically or spiritually. I think he was a strategist, a schemer, a scammer, a manipulator, a user, an exploiter, a dirty-trickster – and nothing else; I think he was politically and socially amoral, and couldn't care less about policy, governance, or government itself except insofar as it was the gameboard he played on. I imagine that he could have as easily been a Democrat as a Republican operative, but for his purposes the GOP was perhaps the strategic choice at the point and place where he entered the playing field, or maybe just conveniently penetrable. I'm sure he was a casual racist, but not a race ideologue, and probably had no significant personal feelings about race issues beyond how he could leverage or exploit them, or to what degree they might impact his gameplan. He was also a charismatic showman, so altogether the kind of guy who could not only be your invaluable political assassin, but could also play any room and inject some flash and dazzle into the party of old gray men.

He was an all singing, all dancing deadly attack dog and monstrous egoist, but delightfully for those on the other end of his leash, I think he had very little actual political ambition in terms of gaining high office; he wanted to be celebrated and visibly and functionally at the center of the highest levels of power, but wasn't a threat to usurp those positions, because he was no doubt bored silly by the actual dreary work of running a state or country.

In terms of any deathbed conversion or genuine self reflection, my take is that this was more of a useful narrative that was convenient to shroud him in, but that his own concerns remained more on the self serving plane. This is an interesting book excerpt on his final year (relatively sympathetic, fwiw). Among other things, it is interesting how he had this cohort of smart, able women around him whom he seemed to cycle through as his needs required and their devout attention either flagged or imposed inconvenient expectations, at which point he would shuffle hand maidens. For example, he pretty much discarded/supplanted his wife during his last year (and no doubt at other periods during their marriage) until it became convenient or expedient for his purposes to draw her in again. Being first pregnant and then occupied by a new baby and their other two children, she wasn't very useful or interesting to him, and not up to the level of enthralled personal service and unfailing focus he demanded.

At any rate, it's interesting to read some of his final pronouncements that are gathered here. Do they indicate a deep spiritual conversion or genuine regret? To me they seem so facile and perfunctory... I learned something about humanity and brotherhood, blah blah; you can be rich and powerful and still feel empty. And the big thing he learned was the "Golden Rule"? It's like the Cliff Notes of deathbed conversions. And most telling to me, "What power wouldn't I trade for a little more time with my family?" Even as he knew he was dying, he seemed uninterested in any such thing. The book excerpt linked above remarks on his daughter playing a news anchor to interview him, presumably because she felt it was the only way to get his attention, and his exclusion of his wife from his inner life until the extreme end seems to belie this sentiment. To me it seems like yet more playing to the audience and predictable manipulation; if he sent apologies to his victims and enemies, then it would be ungracious of them to speak ill of him after his death. If he talked about Jesus and the Golden Rule, it would mitigate his actual record with most Christians. If he reached out to his family, it would leave a final impression of a family man more than a user and neglectful philanderer. Etc.
posted by taz at 3:17 AM on November 17, 2012 [5 favorites]


Did Atwater have any Nazi connections? A good many ultra-wealthy industrialists do, having worked closely with the regime, and a fair few of the old right-wing political actors were buddies with the baddies. Koch Bros daddy, a Bush granddaddy, etc. Atwater seems cut of the same cloth. Same with Rove. Amoral, discompassionate, evil-promoting, nation-destroying, extremist bastards.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:54 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


In that pre-waking dream state this morning I thought about Atwater helping Bush Senior, who had been director of the CIA, into the role of President in 2001. I thought about how the CIA had become involved in the geopolitics of heroin in Afghanistan, after the Soviets invaded in 1979, just around the time Atwater was helping Reagan into the Presidency in 1980 - and Bush into the Vice Presidency - , using the Southern strategy Dent had cooked up in the 50's to demonize black people, as a way of fear inducing working class white and rich white folks into voting pro-Reagan.

The War On Drugs and Nancy Reagan's "Just say no." would make sense as part of the overall strategy of demonizing blacks and people of lower socio-economic status if black Americans and poor people were the main customers for the heroin in Democrat voting cities on either coast. The War On Drugs created heroin customers in another way too: > In state prisons, almost 25 percent of incarcerated convicts use heroin on a regular basis; currently, almost 17 percent of prisoners in Federal prison use heroin.

> Total drug arrests nearly tripled between 1980 and 2003, from 580,900 to 1.68 million, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics.

The CIA must have needed customers for the heroin they were shipping into America in the 80's from Afghanistan, as well as the cocaine from Panama and Colombia. Grandiosity inducing cocaine for the rich folks and stupefying heroin/psychosis inducing crack for the black and poor folks. This would serve to reinforce the preconceptions about black and poor people that Atwater used to elect the GOP Presidents.
posted by nickyskye at 9:14 AM on November 17, 2012


He didn't come from a wealthy background, five fresh fish, or have any political connections that he didn't acquire himself. I think his dad was an insurance adjuster, and his mom was a high school teacher.
posted by taz at 9:21 AM on November 17, 2012 [1 favorite]


Also thought about the voting map of the 2012 election in relation to the Civil War, the Free States and the Slave States and how it seems to play into that vile and evil use by Atwater and the GOP of the Southern Strategy.
posted by nickyskye at 9:25 AM on November 17, 2012


There's something fishy about the 2012 electoral map and the free/slave states. I like Cord Jefferson's response:

A map comparison that might actually be worth something would be holding up the electoral-college results next to a map like the one created by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2010. In that map, the Chronicle looked at which states had the highest number of college graduates. And wouldn’t you know it: Many of the states with higher concentrations of college graduates — Iowa, Minnesota, New York, etc. — went to Obama in this year’s election.

Even that comparison doesn’t answer all the questions, of course. But it’s a better and timelier exercise than aligning the election results with slavery.

posted by craniac at 9:42 AM on November 17, 2012


My point was not about slavery but about Atwater's manipulation of the states that had once been connected with slavery, using the racist Southern Strategy to guide the vote for the GOP.
posted by nickyskye at 9:52 AM on November 17, 2012


I imagine that he could have as easily been a Democrat as a Republican operative, but for his purposes the GOP was perhaps the strategic choice at the point and place where he entered the playing field, or maybe just conveniently penetrable.

The party of Roosevelt won national elections by cobbling together coalitions, never by slash and burn, divide and conquer race-based appeals to the baser demons of human nature. After they lost the segregationist Dixiecrats in the Deep South when the Civil Rights Act was passed, the opportunity for winning even local elections via demonizing people of color was pretty much limited to what was formerly known as the party of Lincoln. So, I find it hard to imagine Atwater as a Democrat.
posted by y2karl at 10:22 AM on November 17, 2012


Well, I don't think he entered politics in order to demonize people of color, it just became expedient for his purposes. His first big character smear was making hay of an opposing candidate's electric shock therapy for depression as a teenager, calling it "psycho treatments" iirc. I don't believe he actually had any ideological problem with mental health care... it was just expedient for his purposes at the time.

So when I say he could have easily been a Democrat, what I mean is that I don't think he gave a toss about the philosophical underpinnings of the Republican party; he wasn't a true believer, he was just a player in it for the game, and could have taken either side of the board.
posted by taz at 11:39 AM on November 17, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well said taz. Agreeing with each of your points. I so appreciated your thoughtful and insightful comments.

This Atwater post and thread has been full of revelations, pices of the puzzle falling together to make a coherent whole. It's really quite a relief, as awful as the information is, to make sense of many previous mysteries.
posted by nickyskye at 7:20 PM on November 17, 2012


*Atwater post and thread have been and pieces of the puzzle. ack.

Atwater also seems to be strikingly similar to George W, their slightly fetal alcohol syndrome faces, their sneers, the rascal mischievousness, sophomoric humor (but with a diabolical and much smarter edge) and somehow black sheep son feeling too. They look like they could have been cousins.

Just finished watching the PBS documentary about Atwater, Boogie Man. My God Atwater was a classic sociopath, a true monster! What damage he's done to the United States and via the Bush gang on the entire planet. Staggering damage. He had all the traits of a sociopath including pathological charm, being a raging narcissist, pathological liar, treacherous, backstabbing, nihilistic, remorseless, cold-blooded, predatory, a con artist. Fascinating to listen to those he bamboozled, who were not able to see beyond the con, who remained codependently enmeshed to the end and after that, except the one who noted Atwater's Bible was still in the cellophane, unopened, unread.

The Democrats have to learn how to deal with the Atwater playbook, to respond with savvy to the media spin, the lies and cunning games.
posted by nickyskye at 11:08 PM on November 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Staggering damage

Yeah, exactly. I was thinking about this a lot yesterday: Atwater was offered a job touring with Lee Dorsey after high school, but his parents didn't want him to do it. I was wondering how different the geopolitical landscape would be today if he had become a musician instead of a monster.
posted by taz at 12:10 AM on November 18, 2012


if he had become a musician instead of a monster

He was a monster, whether he had a mega political career or not. A sociopath is a sociopath. He would have had only hand grenades or poison to destroy those immediately around him. One thing I've learned about sociopaths over the years, when they point the blame at others, the blame really lies with them. By dint of his latching onto Reagan, then the Bushes, mentoring Rove, he became a monster with weapons of mass destruction.
posted by nickyskye at 12:21 AM on November 18, 2012 [2 favorites]


Pointing the blame at others seems to be the sole strategy of the Republican party.

Hmmmm.
posted by five fresh fish at 7:42 AM on November 18, 2012


So when I say he could have easily been a Democrat, what I mean is that I don't think he gave a toss about the philosophical underpinnings of the Republican party; he wasn't a true believer, he was just a player in it for the game, and could have taken either side of the board.

In this particular case, to say that, well, he could have played for either side because both sides are just the same is ridiculous. Nixon's Southern Strategy would not have existed had the Civil Rights and Voting Rights Acts not been enacted. Atwater's infamy is based upon his mastery of dog whistle racial politics in furthering that strategy. He crossed a specific line. If he was just another political consultant who played dirty, this post would not exist.
posted by y2karl at 11:39 AM on November 18, 2012


Last night I came across this video, which made me think that there is a grassroots movement among the youth generation, geeks and hackers in particular, who are politically minded, to fight the ongoing Atwater-Rove malice. Did Anonymous Prevent Rove from Stealing Another Election?

Hmmmm.

The comment I made is not about blame itself, or that blame is exclusive to the GOP. Blame is used all the time by lots of people, both correctly, incorrectly, sanely, insanely, by this side or that side.

My comment is about how blame is misused by a sociopath, such as Atwater and the other sociopaths around him, who lied, pathologically, over many years, about so much. Blame is one thing, scapegoating is another, even though at the core of scapegoating is blame. Atwater's very death bed 'repentance' is a disclosure of his use of Dent's Southern strategy to scapegoat blacks, using code language to camouflage fear mongering as racism, to herd fearful people in a racist way toward the GOP fold.

The scapegoating is one malignant use of blame by Atwater and there is another aspect, common among sociopaths, that what they blame is an indication of their own intention. If a group of sociopaths say there are "weapons of mass destruction" (presumably the code language to fear monger against Muslims in Iraq), it is the sociopaths who are doing the mass destruction.

because both sides are just the same

y2karl, I think that is a misinterpretation of that taz said. It was not that both sides were the same at all. It was that Atwater could have found a way to play either side. The Southern strategy was used to herd the sheeple into voting for the GOP. If he'd worked for the Dems, he would have had to use another strategy altogether. It was said repeatedly in the PBS documentary that Atwater was basically not interested in politics so much as he was interested in winning, being given accolades, obsessed with power.

It is an example of the self-loathing that sociopaths have that Atwater picked the Southern strategy because he played R&B music. What was most satisfying to him creatively in music was playing the Blues, around and with black musicians. His background geographically was Southern.

What did he destroy the most? He harmed that which was closest to him, black people and the South, ripping them off by aligning them with the GOP. This is typical of sociopaths to abuse what is closest to them and an expression of their self-loathing projected onto others, into scapegoating.
posted by nickyskye at 1:14 PM on November 18, 2012


Scapegoating is a human universal. It is what we all do. One does not have to be a a sociopath to do it. We are the 99%, for instance, is scapegoating.

After the Civil Rights Act was passed, it was the social consensus that racism was a bad thing. So, one had to use code words to get around it. So, Nixon talked about law and order, while cutting a deal with Strom Thurmond to get his endorsement, in order to head off George Wallace, who used exactly the same formulation. When Thurmond endorsed Nixon, everyone in the target audience knew exactly what that meant.

Saying that Atwater would have been on either side does not diminish the fact that this post and thread would not exist had it not been for what he did with Willie Horton. That ad was palpably racist and one of Michael Dukakis's eternal regrets is that he did not respond to it. This, at least, is what I recollect of the NPR interview with Governor Dukakis on On The Media where he noted that Atwater apologized to Willie Horton but never apologized to him.
posted by y2karl at 3:06 PM on November 18, 2012


there is another aspect, common among sociopaths, that what they blame is an indication of their own intention

A great many Republucan politicians rail against and pass laws against homosexuality and abortion, and then go off and do those things themselves.

I'm sure I'm not the first to propose that the Republican party is the natural home of sociopaths.
posted by five fresh fish at 3:34 PM on November 18, 2012


y2karl , Definition of scapegoating, emphasis mine: Scapegoating (from the verb "to scapegoat") is the practice of singling out any party for unmerited negative treatment

I do not agree with you that "Scapegoating is a human universal. It is what we all do." All human beings can and do experience blame at different times, to one degree or another.

Blame is very different from scapegoating, which is, typically, singling out a vulnerable person or group and heaping undue blame on them, typically with the result being that the person or group becomes an outcast, bullied away from others into isolation, where they become even more vulnerable and in a position of being further harmed.

Blaming the crooks and malignants who ripped off the American public of trillions in the Wall Street scam of the last several years is not scapegoating the 1%, it is holding them responsible for reality based actions victimizing the 99%, creating a massive recession, not imagined grievances, projected unduly, or mere casting aspersions on their character.

Even though the richest 1 percent of Americans don't all work on Wall Street, they do control a disproportionate amount of its wealth, including nearly half of all stocks and mutual funds and more than 60 percent of securities.

It is this small group of the mega rich who were benefited by Atwater's malicious herding of the voters toward the GOP, who then got in bed with the bankers and the Wall Street crooks.

It is hard to imagine what the hell Atwater could possible have done to benefit the Dems, had he not chosen the Republican party as his personal snake pit. However, it is said in the PBS documentary that this despicable pos was not interested in political power for himself, nor interested really in the Republican Party. His loyalty was to himself, to being what he thought of as "winning", playing the game, strategizing. He had his finger on the pulse of the gutter and used that to demolish people's lives, any way he could, using tabloid zaps to do it, as he did to Willie Horton and Dukakis. And yes, what he did to Horton was grotesquely racist. His tactics were racist. That was/is how the Southern strategy worked.

Romney also used the Southern strategy in his campaign with his constant references to the 47% of "non-producers" and that Obama would be all about giving away "free" gifts.

I was astounded to find out after all this time in Boogie Man, that the Whitewater scandal was something Atwater cooked up to target Clinton. "His final parting political shot was embroiling the Clintons in the Whitewater Affair." And amazed to find out that Ken Starr was paid 70 million taxpayer bucks to do the fake investigation on how the Clintons lost $38 thou approx.

And, you're right, it seems unlikely that this post would have existed if Atwater had chosen a different life path.
posted by nickyskye at 7:33 PM on November 18, 2012


Whitewater investigation: Six-plus years, $60 million.

9/11 Commission: A year and nine months, $12 million.
posted by kirkaracha at 6:22 AM on November 19, 2012 [2 favorites]


I do not agree with you that "Scapegoating is a human universal. It is what we all do."

I follow Rene Girard on this: we forget all too easily that sacrifice was the central religious act for the bulk of human history. The term covers something ancient and primal in human nature and culture and is a complex subject. At least to my limited and imperfect understanding of his thought.
posted by y2karl at 7:08 AM on November 19, 2012


kirkaracha, curious why you posted re the 9/11 commission in this Atwater thread. Was there a connection somehow? Or do you mean via Rove, Atwater's student?
posted by nickyskye at 12:40 PM on November 19, 2012


No reason. I just had the links handy from previous comments and think the comparison is interesting.
posted by kirkaracha at 2:24 PM on November 19, 2012


dogrose: Republicans use the ass as their symbol. Amusingly.

Nope. That's the Democrats.
Damn my memory!
posted by IAmBroom at 11:35 AM on November 20, 2012


Today Jonah Goldberg Explains It All To You
posted by homunculus at 5:27 PM on November 23, 2012


Crooked Timber: Political Dog Whistles Don't Have An Off Switch For The Dog Whistle Part
But even if whites at some point, in their sincerest hearts of hearts, want ‘we want to cut this’ to not serve any longer as an in-group/out-group marker (to use the nicest possible term for it) because 1) they have sincerely become less racist and 2) it hurts them at the ballot box, it’s totally unreasonable to expect that out-group members will stop hearing this as dog-whistle ethnocentric signaling, at precisely the convenient moment when it no longer serves the interests of white folks to have it be heard that way. The dog-whistle part doesn’t have an off-switch, so if ‘we want to cut this’ is a dog-whistle, you can’t proposing cutting without dog-whistling.
posted by the man of twists and turns at 4:25 AM on December 2, 2012 [1 favorite]


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