The tension between the projection of a modern, inclusive, tolerant party and the reality of a sizeable racially intolerant element within its base pining for the restoration of white privilege is neither new nor accidental. Indeed, it in no small part explains the trajectory of the Republican party for almost the last half century. In his diary, Richard Nixon's chief-of-staff, Bob Haldeman, described how his boss spelled out the racial contours of a new electoral game-plan to win southern and suburban whites over to the Republican party in the wake of the civil rights era. "You have to face the fact that the whole problem is really the blacks," Nixon told him. "The key is to devise a system that recognises that while not appearing to."
This could be the final hurrah for what became known as Nixon's southern strategy in what is shaping up to be the most racially polarised election ever. Black support for the Republican party literally cannot get any lower. A recent Wall Street Journal poll had 0% of African-Americans saying they intend to vote for Romney. At 32%, support among Latinos is higher but still remains pathetically low given what Republicans need to win (40%) and what they have had in the past – in 2004 George W Bush won 44%. As a result, the party of Lincoln is increasingly dependent on just one section of the electorate – white people. To win, Romney needs 61% of the white vote from a white turnout of 74%. That's a lot. In 2008, John McCain got 55% from the same turnout. "This is the last time anyone will try to do this," one Republican strategist told the National Journal. And Republican consultant Ana Navarro told the Los Angeles Times: "Where his numbers are right now, we should be pressing the panic button." [...]
Describing the evolution of the Republicans' racial appeal, the late Lee Atwater, one-time chair of the Republican National Committee and member of the Reagan administration, said in 1981. "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 forced busing [and] states' rights. You're getting so abstract now [that] you're talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you're talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites … obviously sitting around saying, 'We want to cut this' is much more abstract than even the busing thing, and a hell of a lot more abstract than 'nigger, nigger'."
Reflecting on her experience in Tampa, Patricia Carroll, the CNN camerawoman who had peanuts thrown at her said: "I can't change these people's hearts and minds … This should be a wake-up call to black people … People were living in euphoria for a while. People think we're gone further than we have."
Blast from the Past. At Daily Kos on this date in 2003:
Well, it appears it's finally getting to him.
The dominance that Dr. Dean has enjoyed, and the corresponding exasperation that has caused his rivals, was clear even before the candidates sat down in Baltimore tonight. Senator Kerry was talking to reporters before the debate here, where he was repeatedly questioned about Dr. Dean's standing in the race and things that he had said.
After Mr. Kerry finished his news conference and began walking away with an aide, David Wade, a live microphone picked him up muttering with evident annoyance: "Dean, Dean, Dean, Dean."
To be honest, I'm quite surprised and quite pleased that most Dems have kept their guns trained on Bush (the floundering Lieberman being the exception). Of course, campaigns dish dirt to reporters behind the scenes (leading to gripes like this one), but a public fascade of unity would go a long way to keeping the party united heading into primary season. [...]
For now, Kerry will be forced to answer questions about "Dean, Dean, Dean". Then everyone (including Dean) will have to answer questions about "Clark, Clark, Clark" next week (whether the general runs or not), followed by more questions about "Dean, Dean, Dean" once he releases his Q3 fundraising numbers.
Kerry and the others not named Dean or Clark will need to make their own news if they hope to shift media coverage away from the two insurgents.