Part 3—R-bombs is us: Did Paul LePage make a racist remark about Barack Obama?
That’s what the headlines on Joan Walsh’s column at Salon seemed to say. Walsh had opened yesterday’s piece with LePage’s latest alleged remark, a statement the crackpot Maine Republican has now denied making.
Salon’s headline writer wrote this:
GOP racism of 2009: Still alive and wellIn her column, Walsh never explicitly says that LePage’s alleged remark was “racist.” But that’s where the headline went.
Maine's Tea Party governor is sure that the president "hates white people." The party just keeps producing nut-jobs
Did LePage make a racist remark? If he made the statement which has been (anonymously) reported, he certainly made a stupid remark. But that would be nothing new for LePage, one of the biggest, dumbest loudmouths in our pitiful modern politics.
In this morning’s New York Times, Katharine Seelye looks for an appropriate phrase with which to describe LePage’s inanity. In the highlighted passage, she recalls one of his “startlingly blunt assertions”—possibly the stupidest of his many stupid remarks:
SEELYE (8/21/13): The problem for Mr. LePage, as even some of his allies acknowledge, is that whether or not he made this particular comment, he has made so many other startlingly blunt assertions that while one more may not matter, the accumulation of such comments could. Taken together, they could add up to a major vulnerability for him as he faces re-election next year.The IRS isn’t quite as bad as the Holocaust! LePage may even be well-intentioned. But he is a geyser of nonsense. And uh-oh:
Last year, he compared the Internal Revenue Service to the Gestapo. “The Holocaust was a horrific crime against humanity and, frankly, I would never want to see that repeated. Maybe the I.R.S. is not quite so bad—yet.” He later apologized.
As American culture fragments into tribes; as American media is further “democratized;” the startling dumbness of folk like LePage defines a major part of our gigantic national problem.
For many years, such dumbness tended to stay underground as the nation’s discourse was regulated by a handful of major media figures, “wise men” like Walter and David. Now, the parameters of the discourse are defined by media figures like Rush and Sean—and Maureen, and Chris Matthews.
People are now encouraged to be loud and stupid. Folk like LePage take the prompt.
That said, LePage is a numbskull of the pseudo-right. Is it possible that the for-profit and corporate new orgs of the pseudo-left are now developing their own form of inanity?
We’d have to say that they are. Beyond that, we’d say that the characteristic inanity of us on the pseudo-left turns on our great desire to drop our pleasing R-bombs.
In the world of corporate and for-profit media, race and gender have become the central organizing principle of ersatz liberalism. In our view, this is creating a Very Dumb Politics of the ersatz left.
We also think that this is serving as a beard for plutocrat interests—that race is being used, again, to distract regular people from plutocrats’ financial interests. For more than a century, race was used to distract working-class whites way from their actual financial interests. Now, it almost seems like race is being used to distract college-educated white liberals.
One thing is certain: In our for-profit and corporate media, we pseudo-liberals love to drop our R-bombs. It’s the cream we get in our coffee, the joy of our tribalized world.
Just consider the pleasing way Rachel Maddow started last night. Giving her viewers the thing they most crave, she told a rather selective story about a non-person person.
Her story concerned a tow truck driver. This is the way she began, speaking as if to third graders:
MADDOW (8/20/13): Thanks to you at home for staying with us for the next hour.Already, viewers had been played a tad. Winston-Salem isn’t just a substantial city. It’s a thoroughly Democratic city.
The city of Winston-Salem has not quite a quarter million people in it. It is a substantial city.
Big companies are based there. Several colleges are based there. Winston-Salem is the fifth largest city in the state of North Carolina.
The mayor of Winston-Salem right now is this man [showing photo]; his name is Allen Joines. He is a Democrat, and he is up for reelection as mayor this year.
The challenger on the Republican side is this man, James Lee Knox. He works for a local towing company. And despite being the only Republican challenging the incumbent mayor of Winston-Salem for the mayor’s job, James Lee Knox has just lost the support of his local Republican Party.
No Republican ran for mayor in 2005 or 2009. This time around, the local GOP leadership says it tried to recruit a dozen candidates, but no one was willing to run.
Knox, who works for the towing company, placed his name on the ballot himself, thus becoming the only Republican in the race. Anyone can place his own name on the ballot, of course.
Essentially, Knox is a random guy who decided to run for mayor. There was never a chance he could possibly win. There is no sign that he ever represented anyone but himself.
That said, Maddow earns her millions of dollars in part by giving us rubes our nightly treats. In our view, what follows only makes the liberal/progressive mind that much weaker and dumber.
This is what the cable star said as she continued her tale:
MADDOW (continuing directly): The Forsythe County Republican Party has announced that they no longer support James Lee Knox in his bid to become the next mayor of Winston-Salem. This comes after Mr. Knox admitted using what the local paper describes as several derogatory terms, including the N-word, in a confrontation with a local elections worker last year.To watch this segment, click here.
Mr. Knox acknowledged that he used the racial slur after the 2012 election. He said he was trying to find out the name of a black elections employee with whom he had exchanged words during early voting. During a conversation with another county worker, Mr. Knox referred to the woman using several derogatory terms, including the N-word.
Mr. Knox says he does not believe in using such words but that he, quote, "got frustrated." That’s how he explains it. He got frustrated. You know, you get frustrated and out pops the N-word! She was bla-a-ack! You know, as you do.
So reportedly, the state Republican Party in North Carolina decided to not get involved in this situation in Winston-Salem, but the local party did drop their support for Mr. Knox. After initially telling the local paper that he felt that the local Republican Party had stabbed him in the back, well, tonight Mr. Knox officially just quit the race.
I think this has happened early enough that it probably means his name will be off the ballot and that means the winner of the Democratic primary in Winston-Salem will go on to run for mayor without any Republican opponent at all.
As everyone except Maddow’s viewers may know, it won’t make a lick of difference whether Knox’s name appears on the ballot or not, and it never would have. Nor it is especially clear that the local GOP ever “supported” Knox in any real way.
In the local news report from which Maddow’s staff worked, the local GOP chairman is quoted saying that the party won’t “endorse” Knox. Formulations about loss of “support” come from the local reporter.
Sadly but unremarkably, a tow truck driver in Winston-Salem is locked in the past, to some unknown extent, concerning so-called race. That’s a sad artifact of our brutal and tragic American history. But why did it open Maddow’s program on The One True Liberal Channel?
In one way, this could have been played as a “good news” story. This is what the head of the local Republican Party said about Knox’s behavior:
“A person who talks like that and is crude in that fashion just doesn’t represent who we are as a party, and we can’t endorse someone like that.”
Good for Scott Cumbie, chairman of the Forsyth County Republican Party! It could be treated as a unifying event, a mark of progress, when white politicians in North Carolina reject such conduct that way.
But on The One True Liberal Channel, we all understand the pleasing role race will always play. Last night, we were offered this opening anecdote as a tasty tribal treat, as a way of telling us something untrue:
We are the truly good decent people. They are the very bad people.
Throughout the sweep of human history, it has always been tempting but unwise to believe formulations like that. This takes us back to Walsh’s column, where the headline gave us a similar treat, a bit of a pseudo-lib Milk Bone.
Did Paul LePage make a racist remark, if he said what has been alleged?
If he said what has been alleged, he certainly made a stupid remark. (In Times Talk, he was “startlingly blunt.”) But increasingly, stupid remarks aren’t just for the right any more.
In for-profit liberal media, we’re constantly handed pleasing treats about the other tribe’s racism. It’s easy, fun and profitable to build a liberal cable politics around issues of gender and race—and issues of gender and race are, of course, an obvious part of any real progressive politics.
But as we watch the grasping children who have been hired to create this new world, we keep getting a funny feeling. We get the feeling that race is working, once again, as a great distraction.
Rachel rushes to tell us about a tow truck driver. She doesn’t seem to say a whole lot about issues of corporate looting.
This darling child has never mentioned the giant front-page reports in the Times about the enormous amounts of looting which characterize typify American health care. (North Carolina Republicans get looted this way; so do we Yankee liberals.)
This ongoing front-page series is going to win the Pulitzer Prize. It concerns massive looting by the interests which support Maddow’s owners.
Maddow hasn’t mentioned this high-profile series, not even once. But she rarely fails to let you know if some tow-truck driver somewhere makes a racist remark.
Meanwhile, Walsh returned, several times, to the allegedly vile racial conduct of that rodeo clown in Sedalia, Missouri. So desperate are we for our racial fix that we are now actually complaining about the conduct of rodeo clowns. More pathetically, we’re inventing facts about rodeo clowns to let us enjoy our fix.
Is race being used in the ugly old way, as a way of distracting the rubes? We’re not sure, but it’s plainly being used in a way that dumbs down the left. This also increases the tribal divisions which serve conservative and plutocrat interests.
Deep tribal division means nothing can work. That's the fundamental goal of the pseudo-conservative world!
Tomorrow, we’ll see what Wagner and Capehart said about that troubling rodeo clown. The Dumb isn’t just for LePage any more, we will be forced to suggest.
Tomorrow: Blackface, she said!
Another fine misdirection: Always check your wallet when Maddow's staff starts typing! This part of the TV star's tale was also a bit misleading:
MADDOW: So reportedly, the state Republican Party in North Carolina decided to not get involved in this situation in Winston-Salem, but the local party did drop their support for Mr. Knox. After initially telling the local paper that he felt that the local Republican Party had stabbed him in the back, well, tonight Mr. Knox officially just quit the race.From that, you might get the impression that the state GOP decided not to sanction Knox, so the locals had to take action.
In the local report from which Maddow was working, the chronology worked the other way. The local GOP cut Knox loose. Knox tried to appeal to the state GOP, but they declined to help.
As best we can tell, Maddow’s a tribal true believer. In our view, it pays to be wary when she starts telling her tales.