• Primaries, Dog Whistles, Republicans And You.

    South Carolina. All I know about the state is that 1)it was where the Battle of Fort Sumter took place, kicking off the American Civil War, 2)it was the first state to secede from the Union and 3)they still fly the Confederate Battle Flag over the statehouse. Apparently, it's become important ground for a battle of a different sort. Ron Paul, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich worked their magic in the CNN and Fox debates, and worked their magic on the damn-near 99% white crowd with a combination of demagoguery, fear mongering and just plain outright disingenuousness.

    And it works. For ages, politicians have known that one of the quickest ways to earn the minds and votes of the unreconstructed is to pledge protection from having a single dime of their money spent on a black person. Or pledge to throw more blacks in jail. Or merely put them in their place, even.

    This about sums up the South Carolina primary. A prime example of Newton Leroy Gingrich doing what all of the GOP nominees have done so far - tossing nice, bloody chunks of red meat to an audience that's eager to eat it all up and ask for seconds*. As Chauncey DeVega noted, these aren't dog whistles ringing in the ears of the average unreconstructed South Carolinian, it's a goddamned air raid siren, powered by a Chrysler Hemi on alcohol and nitrous.

    It's no shock that a GOP candidate would attempt to tap into the darkest desires and fears of white Americans just to score a win - it's what the GOP is best at, from Ronald Reagan's 1981 campaign start in Philadelphia, MS to Rick Santorum's wonderful quip:

    "I don't want to make black people's lives better by giving them somebody else's money; I want to give them the opportunity to go out and earn the money."

    Thus implying that blacks are entitled, lazy people who won't work and would rather subsist on a diet of handouts, Kool Aid, purple drink and welfare, plucked straight from the wallets of hardworking white American families, never mind how the vast majority of welfare recipients are white or how even the wealthiest whites are not above taking a handout or three. The ideal response for the average unreconstructed South Carolinian is to forget about every other important issue and vote for the guy who can supply the most red meat.

    You have to feel a bit sorry for Juan Williams. He's the designated whipping boy for the candidates, taking lick after lick of color-aroused aggression and demagoguery:

    "Juan Williams was there to give the Obama perspective," joked Ed Bignon, a construction company CEO, after a Gingrich town hall here. "He was trying to trap Newt into saying something about race."

    "Newt really showed him!" said C.J. Dodson, a friend of Bignon's.
    Yep. Newt really did put that sorry Negro in his place.

    The only comfort I get out of this is that 1)Newt might get a small boost from the unreconstructed SC crowd, but he'll fall hard in other primaries, 2)Mittens will wind up with the GOP nomination anyways, and 3)Mittens (or any other GOP candidate, for that matter) will lose horribly to Barack Obama.

    *And judging by the bellies I've seen on some South Carolinians, thirds.