SAN DIEGO, September 1, 2012 — “President Obama’s version of America is a divided one — pitting us against each other based on our income level, gender, and social status. His policies have failed. Mr. President, I am here to tell you we are not buying what you are selling in 2012.”
To your average, every day mainstream media commentator, those words sound like typical white, male, Republican hot air. That guess would earn you one out of three. The quote is from a featured speaker at the GOP convention in Tampa, but the speaker was Mia Love, mayor of Saratoga Springs, Utah and candidate for the House of Representatives. Oh yes; Mia Love is an African-American and a woman, double threat for the media powers that be.
How could this have possibly happened? After all, Republicans are supposed to be the party that wages war against women. They are the party of racists. So how did the “mainstream, moderate” MSNBC cable news network deal with this assault upon their sensibilities? By ignoring the speech and allowing us to hear the sparkling commentary of Rachel Maddow and her peers instead. The strategy was most effective. After all, a commentator need not explain what doesn’t seem to exist.
MSNBC was also too distracted to notice African-American Rep. Artur Davis who supported Obama in 2008 but has now left the Democratic Party. The same undivided inattention was granted to Hispanic Tea Party Republican Senatorial candidate Ted Cruz, and Puerto Rican Governor Luis Fortuno’s wife Luce’ Vela Fortuño.
To be fair, MSNBC did focus in on the eloquent and moving speech of Condoleezza Rice, former Secretary of State under the Bush administration. Perhaps that one slipped by the goalie and got aired by accident, but however it happened, an African-American woman portrayed herself as a success story rather than a victim over the airwaves of MSNBC! Swift, immediate explanations were in order. Chris Matthews rose to the occasion by suggesting that Rice’s speech, while good, was also “ a rejoinder to all the birtherism and the narrowness that she’s heard in her party” (MSNBC, August 29, 2012).
Really Chris? You mean the kind of narrowness that gave her a standing ovation from a room full of alleged racists? Or the narrowness that made Herman Cain the Tea Party favorite? Maybe you mean the local state’s white male clubs which elected Republican Governors such as Nikki Haley, an Indian woman, and Susanna Martinez, a Hispanic woman, both of whom also spoke at the convention.
Perhaps those who want to suggest that the Republican Party is more diverse than Democrats like to admit lack the fine-tuned sensory equipment of Chris Matthews. Matthews figured out that a reference to growing food stamp recipients under President Obama was coded racism since many of the people who use food stamps are African-American. Of course, a lot of white people are on food stamps too, but never mind that.
“You know, I think that people that don’t recognize the code about welfare and food stamps are really being dishonest. … Welfare has been a classic tool to pry apart working class whites from working class blacks. It’s brilliant, because everybody sees it who wants to see it. Certainly blacks can’t avoid seeing it because they see the prejudice involved. Whites can deny it because it isn’t technically racial or sectarian, but everyone knows what’s going on here. Everyone knows this” (MSNBC Convention Coverage, August, 28, 2012).
Actually, everyone does not know this. Matthews somehow knows. Just as he also knew enough to blow the lid off that derogatory phrase, “Chicago politics.” While discussing this term on Hardball, New York Magazine’s John Heilemann said to Matthews, “There’s a lot of black people in Chicago,” to which Matthews replied, “I think that may have something to do with it,” (MSNBC Hardball, August 29, 2012).
But MSNBC has no shortage of brilliant analysis these days. Even Matthews was overshadowed last week by the greatest detective of all, Lawrence O’Donnell. During the convention speech of Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, we heard a joke about how Obama “was working to earn a spot on the PGA tour.” O’Donnell was not to be fooled. Since Tiger Woods also plays golf and since Tiger Woods is also an African-American, well, you do the math:
“Well, we know exactly what he’s trying to do there. He is trying to align to Tiger Woods and surely, the — lifestyle of Tiger Woods with Barack Obama” (MSNBC August 29, 2012).
Wow! This is most impressive. The rest of us simpletons would never have viewed that small joke as anything more than a jab at Obama’s frequent recreation activity. But that’s why they pay O’Donnell the big bucks. He sees things the rest of us couldn’t find in our wildest dreams.
Ed Shultz was evidently blessed with a similar gift. On Thursday night, Mitt Romney said “when the world needs someone to do the really big stuff, you need an American.”
Since too many uneducated, one-dimensional thinkers will merely take that statement at face value as a general encouragement about American exceptionalism, good ol’ Ed unpacks it for us:
“That was the line to the birthers tonight. That’s what I think. That was the other line. You know, we’ve got to do big stuff, we’ve got big problems, we don’t have an American. How else are we supposed to take that line? To imply that the guy who’s leading the country right now is not an American. When the world needs to do really big stuff, we need an American. I think that was below the belt and it was a dog whistle, whatever you want to call it, it was a bone throw to the birthers out there that you know what, I’m really not that far from you.”
Fantastic decoding! Nothing gets by these guys. I would never have put that together in a million years, but then I didn’t have the benefit of Ed Shultz sitting next to me and explaining it.
Now that we have a better idea of the kinds of coded words to look for, it’s amazing they missed the one where Paul Ryan described college students looking at a fading picture of Obama on their bedroom wall. The word “fading” must be a reference to Obama’s skin color. What else could Ryan have possibly meant?
Do the MSNBC commentators know better? Are they deliberately trying to fit a square peg in a round hole for the sake of their holy mission as Obama’s water boy? Perhaps. But it’s more likely they have been cheerleading Obama for so long, they have worked themselves into a state of denial. As a result, they share these words sincerely with full confidence that MSNBC’s five viewers will immediately embrace their logical conclusions.
Bob Siegel is a weekend radio talk show host on KCBQ and columnist. Details of his show can be found at www.bobsiegel.net
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