The New York Times editorial board has shocked the world again with this surprising nugget of analysis; former House Speaker Newt Gingrich was playing to the latent racism of South Carolina voters when he answered honestly Juan Williams’s pointedly racial question at Monday night’s debate.
“For months, Mr. Gingrich has made racial resentment an integral part of his platform as a conservative challenger to Mitt Romney,” reads the Times editorial “Preaching Division in South Carolina.” Who knew?
The exchange that the Times specifically takes issue with was when Williams asked Gingrich if calling President Obama a “food stamp president” (a phrase he has been using for months) was not belittling “black Americans” – a telling sentiment in itself. Gingrich responded “no,” and went on to say correctly that during Obama’s administration, the rate of recipients of nutritional assistance has increased dramatically.
“The fact is that Mr. Obama has “put” no one on food stamps,” the Times clarifies. “Mr. Obama eased the eligibility requirements as part of his stimulus program, a desperately needed measure that helped struggling families and the economy.” The Times is perfectly aware that the food stamp metric is a sad measure of the strength of the U.S. economy and the state of the nation – they also know how poorly it reflects on the Obama White House.
The Times also took issue with Gingrich’s proposal, also months old, that high school age children be allowed to perform basic janitorial duties as part-time work after school – the benefits would be to decrease public school funds spent on unionized janitorial labor and to decrease the rate of high school drop outs.
MSNBC anchors Chris Matthews and Alex Wagner echoed the Times’ sentiment yesterday – Matthews found particular animus in the way Gingrich addressed “Juan” by his name in answering his question. This dramatic flair by Gingrich was, no doubt, influenced by the animated crowd’s “boos” which followed William’s leading question.
This is the real issue with which the Times takes issue with; just how powerful Gingrich’s answer was with the crowd at the Myrtle Beach debate. The crowd leapt to its feet to give the former House Speaker a standing ovation that continued into the commercial break.
“For these divisive thoughts, Mr. Gingrich earned his ovation and Mr. Williams won a round of boos,” says the Times. Conservatives have long become used to being called racist for advocating self-reliance; indeed, conservative voters see the rate at which the left becomes self-righteously livid over imagined racial infringements as a measure of success.
That South Carolina recently elected a black, Republican Congressman to represent the district where Secession was born and where the first guns were fired on Fort Sumter in 1861 (Rep. Tim Scott), does nothing to alleviate the sins of our fathers for the luminaries in the 52-story New York Times building.
Liberals believe Gingrich to be a weaker Republican candidate than Romney – precisely because he articulates conservative beliefs and values combatively and unapologetically. They imagine that American would reject a candidate that lectures the president on revered national values like perseverance, self-determination and hard labor. They may be correct, but it would be the lecture and not the substance of the argument that American’s would reject.
The perennial, thinly-veiled critique of Republican candidates who advocate for work over handouts as racist is no substitute for substantial criticism – it is the last gasp of a defunct ideology that has no better rebuttal than to accuse its opponents of malice. The voters are savvy enough to recognize this, whether the New York Times or MSNBC know it or not.