Part 2—What Santorum said: What did Rick Santorum say? And why did Rick Santorum say it?
The second part is easy, of course. He said it because he’s a racist.
But what did Rick Santorum say? That part is a bit harder. Did Rick Santorum reference “black people” when he spoke about dependency on government programs in Sioux City last Sunday night? More specifically, which of these two statements did Rick Santorum make?
Santorum's two possible statements:Which of these statements did Santorum make? This has become a major bone of contention in the past few days. Yesterday afternoon, at Salon, Joan Walsh seemed to say that she wasn’t sure:
I don’t want to make 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.
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.
WALSH (1/5/12): Let me try to give Santorum the benefit of the doubt, for a minute. Even on Monday, I noted that his “black people” comment seemed like a strange non sequitur, because no one was talking about race. The former Pennsylvania senator was in the middle of a typical rant about welfare, specifically Medicare, when he made the remark. On the other hand, I watched and listened to the CBS News video repeatedly, and I had no doubt he said “black people.”"I acknowledge there’s room to disagree,” Walsh said. This means Santorum may not have said it. But so what? Having said that he may not have said it, Walsh began implying that he must have said it, as you can see if you read her full piece. By now, all good liberals know how to do this. Remember, she only said she’d extend the benefit of the doubt “for a minute.”
But now he’s telling CNN and Fox News, “I didn’t say black.” Think Progress tracks his changing story. He told John King Wednesday night: “I’ve looked at that quote, in fact I looked at the video. In fact, I’m pretty confident I didn’t say black. I started to say is a word and then sort of changed and it sort of—blah—mumbled it and sort of changed my thought.”
That’s interesting. It’s even possible. On Tuesday, No More Mister Nice Blog, which regularly skewers Santorum and the right, argued that it wasn’t clear Santorum said the word “black,” and that, in fact, Santorum’s larger point was that government programs are out to enslave all of us, not merely black people. Mediaite reporter Tommy Christopher made the same point in a post arguing that Santorum had made a garbled sound, something like “blargh,” rather than saying “black.” I listened closely to the tape again, and I continued to hear “black,” but I acknowledge there’s room to disagree.
(For the record, Santorum wasn’t talking about Medicare when he made the remarks in question. See transcript below.)
Did Santorum refer to “black people?” For us, this takes us back to Al Sharpton’s program Monday night (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/3/12). At the start of the program, Sharpton played tape of Santorum speaking to a group of Iowa voters. We heard no reference to race at all. This left us puzzled at Sharpton’s subsequent comments.
But then, MSNBC’s official transcriber didn’t hear a reference to “black people” either! Here’s what the transcript at Nexis said when we looked the next day. Rightly or wrongly, it still says this today:
SHARPTON (1/2/12): Tonight’s lead: Playing ugly in Iowa. Just a day from the first voting of 2012 and the candidates’ appeals just getting uglier. Rick Santorum, the GOP’s newest flavor of the month, is surging, but his words on government and African-American are offensive to watch.Rightly or wrongly, that’s still what the Nexis transcript says. According to the transcript, Santorum told a gaggle of Iowa’s famous white people that Obama’s folk “are just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote” (our emphases). That strikes us as a fairly silly analysis, though it probably isn’t completely bonkers. But rightly or wrongly, the transcript makes no reference to “black people.”
SANTORUM (videotape): What President Obama wants to do, his economic plan is to make more people dependent upon the government, to grow the government to make sure that we have more food stamps and more SSI and more Medicaid. Four in 10 children now are on government-provided health care.
It just keeps expanding. They are just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote. That’s what the bottom line is.
I don’t want to make 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 and provide for themselves and their families.
We didn’t hear Santorum say “black.” Neither did the person who prepared the transcript. (As far as we know, MSNBC doesn't post trancripts of Sharpton's show. As far as we know, MSNBC prepares the transcript which appears at Nexis.)
Back to the future: After reading Walsh’s piece, we began looking at tape. In our view, this is a Blow Up/Rashomon episode. Depending on whose tape you watch, depending on the way you’ve been prompted, it sometimes sounds like Santorum said “black.” And it sometimes sounds like he didn’t.
If you’re getting nervous now, go read the rest of Walsh’s piece. She will give you ways to feel sure that Santorum did say “black people,” even after she has said it’s possible that he didn’t. This is the way we liberals now play this game. (We have few other moves.)
Walsh appeared on last night’s Ed Show, where she continued to serve comfort food. Here’s how reliable players like Walsh keep the tribe warm and happy:
SCHULTZ (1/5/12): Well, let’s say he didn’t say it. His follow-up has been terrible. Santorum is also trying to play up his work with historically black colleges. Here it is.Quick guess: We’ll guess that Walsh doesn’t know squat about Santorum’s record with African-American communities. In that way, she’s like us. Having said that, we’ll offer another guess: Satorum’s record is almost surely as good as the record Walsh established as editor of Salon, where she did nothing—nada, zilch, rien—to examine issues concerning minority communities.
SANTORUM (videotape): There’s no one that’s worked more in—when I was a senator from Pennsylvania in the urban communities, both black, Hispanics, as well as whites. Every year, I used to bring all the historically black colleges in to Washington, D.C. to try to help them. I helped to try to introduce them to people in the Department of Education, so they could have more resources. We had two historically black colleges in Pennsylvania.
The Congress, in fact, had a summit every year for historically black colleges, not just in Pennsylvania, of which we have three. So I’ll match my record against any Democrat or Republican in working in African-American communities.
SCHULTZ: Joan, does Santorum's record with African-American communities hold up?
WALSH: Well, you know, if you have to spend the day talking about all the good things you’ve done for black people, Ed, you’re in a little bit of trouble. I don’t think it holds up. I think the people know that he has consistently been a voice for the rich and powerful. He’s Mr. K Street. He has—he talks a good game in terms of Catholic morality, but he ignores Catholic social teaching about the poor of every color.
I just don’t—I just don’t think this is going to work for him.
Based on her record, Joan Walsh doesn’t seem to care a whole lot. But she will please the tribe.
Did Rick Santorum say “black people?” Did he start to say it, then stop? We don’t know—but unlike Walsh, we’ll give the benefit of the doubt for more than a San Fran minute. And we’ll extend that benefit in more ways than one. How about this, for example:
Did Santorum say “black people?” Did he start, then stop? We don’t know, but how about this: How horribly wrong would it be if he did? (We know we're supposed to be horrified.) Granted, white liberals never talk about black children, or about the interests of black citizens generally, except when it lets us parade all about praising our own racial greatness. Granted, white liberals are programmed to explode with (unjustified) rage whenever someone who isn’t part of our tribe dares to discuss such matters. (It isn’t enough to say they’re wrong. By hard tribal law, they're racists.) For ourselves, our reactions are a bit different: After watching the pseudo-liberal world for all these empty silent uncaring years, we would almost find it refreshing if someone stood up and expressed his view about the interests of black citizens in America, whether we agreed with his views or not. You will sure as hell never hear someone like Walsh take the lead on such topics.
Walsh doesn’t give a good flying fig. She has proven this down through the years.
Under the current rules of the game, what happens when non-liberals talk about race? Let’s return to Andrew Rosenthal’s pitiful recent blog post (see THE DAILY HOWLER, 1/4/12). Bravely, heroically, Rosenthal called the roll of the racists. We’ll highlight one thing he said:
ROSENTHAL (1/3/12): Sometimes the racism is more oblique. Newt Gingrich was prattling on the other day about giving “poor children” in “housing projects” jobs cleaning toilets in public schools to teach them there is an alternative to becoming a pimp or a drug dealer. These children, he said, have no work ethic. If there’s anyone out there who doesn’t get that poor kids in housing projects is code for minorities, he or she hasn’t been paying attention to American politics for the last 50 years. Mr. Gingrich is also fond of calling Mr. Obama “the greatest food stamp President in American history.”Gingrich’s food stamp language shows very poor judgment. But let’s consider what Gingrich said about “really poor children in really poor neighborhoods,” a phrase Rosenthal doesn’t repeat.
Granted, Rosenthal isn’t real sharp. He holds his post because he’s a legacy; his late father, A. M. Rosenthal, was a major Times honcho for many years. But good grief! Of course Gingrich was discussing minority kids when he spoke about “really poor children in really poor neighborhoods!” Rosenthal seems to think he has teased this fact out, exposing a "code" and revealing “racism.” But Gingrich’s reference was blindingly obvious. Note to the self-impressed pitiful editor: There was no "code" involved here!
Obviously, Gingrich was discussing minority kids (among others). And by the way—this is something we white liberals simply never do! (This may explain why we get so confused when someone like Gingrich does.) The white liberal world does not discuss the lives or interests of black kids! And when other people do, we run off and say that they’re racists!
Earth to pseudo-liberals: Whatever you think of their ideas, conservatives have discussed the interests of black children much more frequently than liberals have done in the past dozen years. Our tribe never discusses black children—except when we get to rampage around praising ourselves for our greatness. But then, we are very bad people—fake phony posers. And we seem to get worse all the time.
For our money, Santorum’s overall claim was pretty silly. In the main, we don’t think the Obama administration is “just pushing harder and harder to get more and more of you dependent upon them so they can get your vote.” But did Santorum start to reference black people at this point in his remarks? Did he start to say “black people,” then change his mind? Like Walsh, we don’t know; unlike Walsh, we don’t hugely care. Unlike Walsh, we don’t spend our daily hours praying for the chance to call the other team names. Walsh can’t wait to play this trick, having spent years at Salon ignoring black children and the interests of black people generally.
(We “liberals” love to pose about welfare reform. Have you ever seen an article about this topic at Salon? Do you ever see this topic discussed during your tribal rounds? Of course you don’t! The heartfelt concern we like to express is just one more obvious pose!)
Did Santorum start to say “black people?” We don’t know—and we don’t hugely care. By way of contrast, every good pseudo-liberal knows how to rage against such atrocities, real or imagined. Everyone knows how to rattle the scripts, explaining what's wrong with such words.
We would have liked to see Ed Schultz speak to the racists of Woodbury County. What did they think Santorum said? More generally, what did they think about his remarks? Do they believe that Obama is trying to reel them in with SSI? (Not with Medicare.) Why do they think the economy collapsed? Why do they vote Republican?
Almost surely, progressives will never achieve real success until we learn how to speak to our lessers, Republicans and independents alike. But that isn’t what pseudo-liberal politics is currently designed to do. Based on her career at Salon, Joan Walsh doesn’t care about black kids at all—except to use them as a way to pimp her own tribe’s self-admitted grandeur.
It’s good for business—very good. Then again, it’s bad for the future.