Remember this guy? If you’re my age you do. This guy was introduced to us by none other than Pere Chimpy, the first President George Bush. We made his acquaintance in the 1988 Presidential campaign, when he was featured in ads that (quite wrongly) insinuated that Governor Michael Dukakis was responsible for a prison “weekend furlough” program in Massachustees that allowed Willie to walk out of jail, rob, and rape. Willie is a convicted murderer who is doing a life stretch.
But, as I’m sure you know by looking at Willie, there was a LOT more here. Things that the Bush campaign couldn’t print, but could communicate. Willie Horton marks the introduction of the Scary Black Man to Republican politics, and he’s been there with them ever since, as they morphed from the party of Ike into the Krazy Klanservative Klowns that they are today.
The architect of this blatant play on the racism and fear of a section of white America was Lee Atwater, long dead, but still around in campaigning to this day. It was Lee who inspired the “Obamaphone,” and Willard’s insinuation that only people who wanted “free stuff” would vote for that Kenyan Communazi Muslim Scary Black Man Barack Obama. Atwater began a very blatant tradition of doing everything short of screaming N____R!!! in GOP politics.
The history of Atwater, GOP politics, and Klanservatism teaches us much about how we got where we are. That’s why I was glad to see this Nation article on Atwater. Please do check it out, if you’re younger. If you aren’t, you probably remember being infuriated by it all, as I do.
It has become, for liberals and leftists enraged by the way Republicans never suffer the consequences for turning electoral politics into a cesspool, a kind of smoking gun. The late, legendarily brutal campaign consultant Lee Atwater explains how Republicans can win the vote of racists without sounding racist themselves:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Now, the same indefatigable researcher who brought us Mitt Romney’s “47 percent” remarks, James Carter IV, has dug up the entire forty-two-minute interview from which that quote derives. Here, The Nation publishes it in its entirety for the very first time.
Give the article a read. And wonder what kind of people would willingly use these tactics in elections. I don’t wish to hear anymore about how patriotic Rushpubliscum voters are.