A Scurrilous Race-Baiting Attack on Newt Gingrich

It’s silly season, I know. But that doesn’t mean we need to tolerate left-wing nonsense thrown at our candidates.

If you’re familiar with his stump speech, Newt Gingrich routinely argues that Obama is a food stamp president and he’d be a paychecks president – that his economic plan would get more people to work so they wouldn’t be stuck relying on government aid. It’s one of his favorite one-liners about how Obama’s economic policies have failed. This is not an attack on food stamp recipients, especially since one of Newt’s core messages is to tout how he drove welfare reforms in the 1990s that provided more incentives to get work. Newt generally makes the point without referring to the race of the people getting food stamps – indeed, he called it “bizarre” when David Gregory last year argued that it was racist to mention food stamps:

GREGORY: First of all, you gave a speech in Georgia with language a lot of people think could be coded racially-tinged language, calling the president, the first black president, a food stamp president.

GINGRICH: Oh, come on, David.

GREGORY: What did you mean? What was the point?

REP. GINGRICH: That’s, that’s bizarre. That–this kind of automatic reference to racism, this is the president of the United States. The president of the United States has to be held accountable. Now, the idea that–and what I said is factually true. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps. One out of every six Americans is on food stamps. And to hide behind the charge of racism? I have–I have never said anything about President Obama which is racist.

Another of Newt’s favorite themes is that he’ll go anywhere and talk to any audience – which of course he will, because talking is what Newt does best.

But when Newt combines these two points and says that he’ll take that jobs message to the NAACP if they’ll have him and try to convince black voters that they ought to expect more from Obama – paychecks, not food stamps – he gets branded as racist. The charge is utterly scurrilous and made in bad faith. It’s a textbook example of fraudulent use of the race card.

Here’s how the AP report opens:

Republican presidential candidate Newt Gingrich said Thursday he is willing to go before the NAACP and urge blacks to demand paychecks, not food stamps.

Gingrich told a town hall meeting at a senior center in Plymouth, N.H., that if the NAACP invites him to its annual convention this year, he’d go there and talk about “why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

He also said he’d pitch a new Social Security program aimed at helping young people, particularly African-American males, who he said get the smallest return on Social Security.

To the AP’s credit, it notes the fact that these are both standard, separate themes of Newt’s. Yet we get people like Martin Bashir on MSNBC blaming the totally unrelated murder of a teenager on Newt: “Let’s cut out the food stamps rhetoric right now before things get any worse.” TPM, which is driving this appalling story, got comment from the NAACP, which predictably groused that “It is a shame that the former Speaker feels that these types of inaccurate, divisive statements are in any way helpful to our country.”

What’s next – making it racist to discuss unemployment at all?