« »

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

The GOP: where racist lies never die

Steve Benen:

As you’ll recall, a bipartisan group of governors asked the Obama administration for some flexibility on the existing welfare law, transitioning beneficiaries from welfare to work. The White House agreed to give the states some leeway, so long as the work requirement wasn’t weakened. It inspired Mitt Romney and GOP leaders to make up a shameless lie, accusing President Obama of weakening welfare work requirements.

The blatant falsehood didn’t make much of a difference, and I assumed the issue would disappear once the election ended. But… Republicans have become so invested in the lie, they’re afraid to let it go.

Prominent House Republicans are relaunching efforts to stop the Obama administration from giving states waivers under welfare reform.

GOP leaders of several committees reintroduced a bill Thursday that would block the policy, which Republicans say “guts” welfare’s work requirement.

“This legislation makes it clear — the Obama administration cannot undermine the work requirement that has resulted in higher earnings and employment for low-income individuals,” said Ways and Means Committee Chairman Dave Camp (R-Mich.) in a statement.

That the Obama administration never undermined the work requirement — and has no intention of doing so in the future — apparently doesn’t matter. What’s necessary, apparently, is to keep the lie alive, even after it’s been exposed as untrue.

Normally I’d let something like this slide. After all, even if this thing did manage to become law, nothing would happen. It makes illegal something the president is not doing. It might as well be a law against skateboarding in the Lincoln bedroom.

But yesterday I pointed out that a lot of Republican moves are motivated by sheer contrarianism and this is a somewhat similar thing, in that it’s just as irrational and stupid. This is pigheadedness. When Republicans cook up a lie, they never let it go. Not even when it’s been a complete failure, as this example shows. Worse, they constantly double down on their bluffs long after those bluffs have been called.

The best example is ACORN. During the 2008 election, Republicans warned that ACORN was planning to steal the election. This wasn’t at all true and was basically a distraction from their own failing voter registration efforts. After Obama was elected, the lie should’ve died. But Republicans couldn’t let it go. When scam artist James O’Keefe set up ACORN, Republicans dove on it, using it as an excuse to destroy ACORN once and for all. And, despite the fact that ACORN was killed after that killing would’ve made any difference — and despite the fact that it was killed at all — Republicans are still freaking out about ACORN and rightwing media warns of ACORN popping up from time to time.

The most perplexing part of all this is that Republicans seem to be entirely clueless that whipping the dead ACORN horse is costing them minority voters. The ACORN fearmongering was always about race and it still is, yet Republicans are so committed to the lie that they continue to tell it — even while they’re supposedly engaged in outreach to minority voters. They’re inviting African-Americans to come vote for them, even as they kick the corpse of ACORN — and with it, minority voter registration efforts — down the streets of their neighborhoods. And then they wonder, “Why don’t these people like us?”

And this lie is no different. Welfare-bashing has long been dog whistle race-baiting and just about everyone involved knows it. Republicans aren’t fooling minority voters and they certainly aren’t fooling the racists this sort of thing is meant to attract. But they can’t help themselves. They just can’t let it go. After decades of the southern strategy, this sort of race-baiting has become second nature. So a big reason why they can’t seem to attract minority voters is because they’re too pigheaded to abandon their own racist lies and let them quietly die.

[photo via BellaBim]

Search Archive:

Custom Search