They just send you your welfare check. — Romney campaign ad
The tradition the GOP embraced back in 1976 when Ronald Reagan said the words “welfare queen,” was aggressively, and famously, furthered in 1984 by George H.W. Bush’s campaign manager Lee Atwater with Willie Horton. Could it be just a coincidence all the characters in Mitt Romney’s pants-on-fire welfare ad are all White working class folks with hard hats? Romney’s welfare ad, like so many others, appears to be set in a world where Blacks and Latinos don’t exist let alone work. The Obama Administration’s effort to give states flexibility on TANF money is lied about in the ad, providing fuel to a familiar fire: That Romney will say anything to get elected.
Nothing new here: Newt Gingrich practiced the GOP’s familiar ‘ol time religion during the primary campaign: Barack Obama was the “the food stamp President.” Problem was what he was saying was inaccurate. Former President Carter said there was a “subtlety of racism” to Gingrich’s comments. But that’s nothing new. It seems at least one Republican every four years seeks to blow the race dog whistle. This year five GOP candidates did.
“I don’t want to make black people’s lives better by giving them somebody else’s money,” said Rick Santorum in Iowa.
Michelle Bachmann told us Black families were stronger in slavery than in freedom. The irony grew thicker as even the African American GOP candidate, Herman Cain, talked of Black Republicans being “runaway slaves” and said Democrats kept Blacks on their “plantation.” But Cain hadn’t proved he was a buffoon enough with just that. Cain continued: Illegal immigrants should be electrocuted, Muslims should be racially profiled. If Atwater were alive it’s all but certain he’d take silent pride in the useful idiots ready to run his race games alongside him.
At least the underlying details of the Willie Horton ad were true: In 1986, Horton was serving a life sentence for murder and committed an assault and rape while out on a prison weekend furlough program.
In the case of Romney’s welfare ad, the campaign isn’t bothering to find a questionable policy decision to blow out of proportion. They would appear to have decided on creating a parallel reality. In the latest ad the Romney strategy is revealed: Lie and hope no one notices.
LAUREN VICTORIA BURKE, Politic365 Chief Congressional Correspondent, publishes the blog Crewof42 on the Congressional Black Caucus. She is heard every Tuesday on WMCS 1290 in Milwaukee on Earl Ingram’s show The Evening Rush as well as on WHUR and WPFW in Washington DC. Ms Burke is also a former staffer on Capitol Hill in Washington and was employed at ABC NEWS and USATODAY. You can follow her on twitter at @crewof42 or read more articles on Politic 365