Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Class Warfare: From Nixon To Romney

A little over a year ago the Daily Beast published a story by Peter Beinart, "The GOP’s Class-Warfare Hypocrisy, From Nixon to Romney," a short history that is still relevant today:

"Romney in the Hamptons, Romney on a Jet Ski at his N.H. estate—conservatives may be crying foul at the Obama campaign playing up these stories, but they’re masters at running on class resentment, says Peter Beinart.

“A woman in a blue chiffon dress poked her head out of a black Range Rover here on Sunday afternoon and yelled to an aide to Mitt Romney, ‘Is there a V.I.P. entrance. We are V.I.P.
"Thus began yesterday’s nasty little New York Times story entitled, 'Romney Donors Out in Force in Hamptons.' It follows snarky coverage of Romney’s Jet Ski-filled vacation at his multi-million dollar New Hampshire estate. Which follows a flurry of reports suggesting that the Obama campaign’s assault on Romney’s record at Bain Capital is hurting him in key states like Ohio.

"Conservatives are livid. 'The Obama campaign has made it clear that they will run this whole election on class warfare,' declared the website The Right Sphere. 'Instead of focusing on Obama’s dismal record, they want Americans to resent Mitt Romney for being successful.' Luckily, added Commentary, Obama’s Maoist tactics will fail because America remains 'an aspirational society that admires rather than resents success.'

"Really? If that’s the case, why have Republicans used class resentment so effectively for the last 60 years? Joseph McCarthy, the man whose specter terrified Democrats for a generation, was all about class warfare. 'It has not been the less fortunate or members of minority groups who have been selling this nation out,' he told the Republican Women’s Club of Wheeling, West Virginia, in 1950, in the speech that catapulted him to stardom, 'but rather those who have had all the benefits that the wealthiest nation on earth has had to offer—the finest homes, the finest college education, and the finest jobs in government we can give. This is glaringly true in the State Department. There the bright young men who are born with silver spoons in their mouths are the ones who have been worst.'

"Richard Nixon seethed with class anger. 'What starts the process really are laughs and slights and snubs when you are a kid,' he confided to a friend. 'Sometimes it’s because you’re poor or Irish or Jewish or Catholic or ugly or simply that you are skinny. But if you are reasonably intelligent and if your anger is deep enough and strong enough, you learn that you can change those attitudes by excellence, personal gut performance, while those who have everything are sitting on their fat butts.'

(A story leaked out later that Nixon resented the more glamorous Kennedy, because Kennedy had class, and Nixon did not.  Joyce, Jnr.)

"Then there are the more recent examples. In 1988, George H.W. Bush accused Michael Dukakis of having learned his views in 'Harvard Yard's boutique,' a bastion of  'liberalism and elitism.' (Bush’s campaign manager, Lee Atwater, later declared that had he been running Dukakis’ campaign, he would have shown ads featuring Bush on his private tennis court alongside images of his waterfront mansion in Kennebunkport, before having the narrator intone: 'No wonder he wants to cut capital gains taxes on the wealthy.')

(It doesn't escape notice that Bush 43 was a Harvard graduate, hardly one who was educated in "Harvard Yard's boutique." Joyce, Jnr.)
"Republicans don’t use class warfare only against Democrats. They use it against Mitt Romney.
"In 2004, the GOP-aligned Club for Growth (an organization composed largely of dirt farmers) ran an ad calling Howard Dean’s campaign a 'latte-drinking, sushi-eating, Volvo-driving, New York Times-reading, body-piercing, Hollywood-loving left-wing freak show.' When John Kerry bested Dean for the Democratic nomination, George W. Bush’s campaign ran an ad that featured him windsurfing. Bush’s commerce secretary declared that Kerry 'looked French.'

"And Republicans don’t use class warfare only against Democrats. They use it against Mitt Romney. 'Even the richest man can't buy back his past,' announced a Rick Perry ad last October. 'This is a campaign of people power versus money power,' declared Newt Gingrich this February. 'We’re just not going around meeting with CEOs and in the big cities,' added Rick Santorum in March. 'This campaign is living off the hard work of average ordinary people across this country who want to see a fundamental change, not on folks who have—well, let's say a special interest in electing their candidate.'

(The hit pieces came, of course, from the Tea Party demagogic populist figures in the Party, and thus hastening the inevitable Civil War in the Republican Party.  Joyce, Jnr.)

"For his part, Romney responded by calling Gingrich 'a wealthy man, a very wealthy man. If you have a half a million dollar purchase from Tiffany’s, you’re not a middle-class American.'

(A classic case of psychological Projection?  From "Conservative Rhetoric," a tabbed Page at the top of the site:

"Step 4. Project your own behavior onto your opponent's.
"This subconscious psychological defense mechanism is a boon to the average Republican of below-average I.Q. as a conscious attack strategy.

"Descriptions of your faults, negative actions and shameful feelings, can be inserted into your invective to describe your opponents as 'fascist,' 'criminal,' or 'murderous.' You can accuse Democrats of 'destroying the Constitution,' 'killing babies,' or 'taking away our free speech,' and your audience will never guess that you're describing yourself!

"This is why you can call President Obama a racist or Nazi, why you can claim that Democrats are waging war against women, students, minorities, and the elderly. If you practice and become as proficient as Rush Limbaugh, you can call African American figures 'racist' and be believed."  Joyce, Jnr.)

"So, yes, America is an 'aspirational' country, but it’s also a country where people distrust elites. It’s a country where people with money and pedigree are vastly overrepresented in government yet risk their careers if they can’t connect to ordinary voters. Mitt Romney will be judged by those same rules: Do middle class Americans find him personally appealing? Do they believe his success has benefited the nation as a whole?

"For much of the last half-century, Republicans have understood these rules better than Democrats. If Mitt Romney doesn’t, he has no one to blame but himself.

"Like The Daily Beast on Facebook and follow us on Twitter for updates all day long.

"Peter Beinart, is the editor of OpenZion.com and writes about domestic politics and foreign policy at The Daily Beast. He is also an associate professor of journalism and political science at CUNY and author of The Crisis of Zionism."

Thus the War On The Middle Class And The War On The Poor came to naught as Romney went down in flames in November, but Class Warfare rages on, even amidst the Civil War being fought in the Republican Party.

And if by "We the People," we understand the term to be the 98 percent of the rest of us, then Class Warfare against the People is a criminal act and shouldn't go unpunished, as we see in the tabbed Page, "Punishments."


"Only the man who knows too little knows too much"

Rex Stout's Nero Wolfe


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