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It kept popping up in all the speeches tonight -- Romney's, Guiliani's and of course Alaska Barbie's:

I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a "community organizer," except that you have actual responsibilities.

On the face of it, it's a pretty weird repetitive theme. Obama's done lots of stuff -- teaching, state legislature, writing books, etc. -- but "community organizer" seems like an odd one to fixate on. The words themselves have generally positive connotations, particularly that first one: everybody is in favor of "community" (as long as its their community).

Which is exactly the point, I think. Used the way the GOP speakers used the words tonight (i.e. with a sneer), community = ghetto and organizer = activist.

It essentially was a coded way of pointing out Obama's work in, with and for the black community (see? even I'm doing it) on the South Side of Chicago. Also the fact that his work involved helping low-income people stand up for their legal rights, as opposed to a GOP-sanctioned "real" job like business owner or career military officer (or moose hunter.) They were trying to put Obama back on the same level as Jesse Jackson -- i.e., the black protest candidate -- and mocking him for it.

To cut right to the nasty, they were using "community organizer" as a euphemism for "poverty pimp."

And, as a special bonus, to a GOP audience (country club division, at least) organizer = union. What could be worse than a black, radical activist union organizer from the South Side of the Chicago?

Why, I bet some of those delegates won't sleep for a week -- even with the double locks and the chain on the door.

I gotta admit, I'm impressed in spite of myself. When it comes to playing the dog whistle, these guys are Mozarts.

Update 1:50 am ET: Some dispute in the thread over this -- with one camp holding that the dog whistle reference is to radicalism, not race. Commenter (or should I say comrade?) Scamperdo offers up this anecdote:

I had the misfortunate to sit in a cab recently with Rush blairing on radio. I told driver switch the station or lose your tip after hearing Rush going off the wall screetch about community organizer = radicals.

They are reframing community organizing as VERY LEFT WING, filled with gasp RADICALS.

It's part of their Obama's too radically liberal for country meme.

The pieces start to fit together a bit: Rush blasts out the message in its raw form to the true believers, and then they dog whistle back to it at the convention. Classic.

The two theories (race or radicalism?) aren't incompatible, of course: It looks like the game plan is to keep trying to paint Obama as the scary black radical (which would also fit with the recent round of Weathermen ads).

I'm thinking the Rovians may have just tipped their hand to their post-convention attack strategy.

Well, nothing else has really worked (nor has this, so far). I guess they don't have any other bright ideas.

Personally, I thought they'd go with the Secret Muslim Terrorist slur. But what do I know?

Originally posted to billmon on Wed Sep 03, 2008 at 09:27 PM PDT.

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