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Friday, December 20, 2002

The Big He's Big Lie-Go read this excellent Byran Preston piece on Clinton's latest speech branding the GOP racists; Josh Marshall ran a piece on it yesterday morning. I would have laid down some blogfire were I not up to my eyeballs in Macro finals; he does it better than I would have. I'll part company with Bryan on one of Marshall's hypothesis
One needn't think that the Republican party itself is racist. I don't. (In any case, that's too big a word, too general a question.) What the Republican party does have is a history -- not by accident, but by design -- of playing to and benefiting from the votes of racist and crypto-racist constituencies in certain parts of the country -- particularly, though not exclusively, in the South. They built the Republican party in the South on the foundation of racial resentment and civil rights rejectionism. Since then they've built a whole house on top of it. But the foundation's still there.
I think that Republicans knew (and know) that being against affirmative action would (does) sell in the white South. You can campaign in a color-blind manner and still know that the rednecks will get the message. To the extent that a GOP candidate stresses anti-AA in the South more than in the rest of the country, they play to that redneck streak. That isn't to say that the GOP is racist, but that candidates might tweak a color-blind message to play to the local crowd. Clinton's charges are suitable for use as fertilizer. In South Carolina, GOP governor Roy Barnes got voted out of office for opposing the Confederate flag. Clinton was fully full of it; Marshall only partly so.

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