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Scratch a Deficit Hawk, Find a Racist

Marc Ambinder can’t stand it any more. After years of trying to pretend that movement Republicans were largely rational and/or moral actors even as they got crazier and crazier, he has finally given up:

Serious thinkers on the right have finally gotten around to a full and open debate on the epistemic closure problem that’s plaguing the conservative movement. The issue, to put it in terms that even I can understand, because I didn’t study philosophy much in college: has the conservative base gone mad?

This matters to journalists, because I really do want to take Republicans seriously.  Mainstream conservative voices are embracing theories that are, to use Julian Sanchez’s phrase, "untethered" to the real world.

Well, duh. It’s the natural and expected result of fifty years of embracing the Southern Strategy, wherein big business gets white Americans to back cutting rich people’s taxes on the idea that this is a way for them to hurt black people while pretending that fiscal responsibility and not racism is their motivation — because of course if you cut taxes, that cuts the amount of money the government has to spend, which forces it to borrow some money or to cut social programs that benefit the poor, many of whom are nonwhite. Or as Lee Atwater put it nearly thirty years ago:

”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, states’ rights and all that stuff. 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.

”And subconsciously maybe that is part of it. I’m not saying that. But I’m saying that if it is getting that abstract, and that coded, that we are doing away with the racial problem one way or the other. You follow me — because 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.”’

The cognitive dissonance required to defend such a policy, financially as well as morally, has made it anathema to anyone whose morals or brains aren’t subservient to racist beliefs. Here’s an experiment: Think of all the "deficit hawk" conservatives you know. How many of them aren’t racist, mendacious and/or ignorant/stupid? Yeah, I can’t think of any, either. If you can find someone who will still defend deficit hawkery even though it’s been utterly, repeatedly debunked, that person is ignorant, a racist who is lying to him/herself, or the stupidest human who ever stood in shoe leather — and quite likely all of these things at the same time.

As I mentioned earlier this week, RNC Chair Michael Steele has enraged his fellow Republicans by admitting what they’ve been heatedly denying: That the Republican party has used the infamous white-supremacist-coddling “Southern Strategy” for the past four decades, and not just during the Nixon years. Again, this was obvious to anyone who’s been paying attention over these past few decades. Remember, the heart of the Southern Strategy is selling to racially-fearful whites the idea of cutting taxes (especially those of rich people and businesses) as a way to hurt black people while hiding behind the cloak of deficit hawkishness.

So whenever you hear Pete Peterson or one of his acolytes blathering about deficits and “fiscal responsibility” this week — which of course in their lexicon means killing all social programs and making Grandma eat cat food — you’ll now know why they’re saying what they’re saying, and why so many of them are white Southerners or billionaire Wall Streeters.

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