Newt Gingrich plays the race card

WASHINGTON — I didn’t think it was possible, but Newt Gingrich has disappointed me. He has managed to be more cynical and more incendiary, more irresponsible and even less honorable than I had imagined him to be.

And my imagination gave him plenty of credit for pettiness, indiscipline, deceit and an overweening arrogance. I knew him to be capable of stunning chutzpah and cheap sensationalism. I’ve seen his over-the-top attacks on rivals, his situational ethics and his disregard for commonplace proprieties.

Still, I believed Gingrich had a healthy respect for the nation’s growing commitment to racial equality and a historian’s understanding of the fragility of that commitment. I thought he regarded the advances brought about by the civil rights movement as a significant contribution to national greatness, a way of advancing our claim to American exceptionalism.

But last week, at the annual convention of the Georgia Republican Party, he played an ugly race card, stooping to suggest a reprise of the old poll test for voting — a tactic once used by white racists to restrict the franchise. He said, “But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as a native-born American, you should have to learn American history. You realize how many of our high school graduates, because of the decay of the educational system, couldn’t pass a citizenship test?”

With that, Gingrich dived head-first into the slimy trough of the Southern strategy, wallowing in a tactic that seeks to stoke the fears and misapprehensions of whites still uncomfortable with black advancement. He hugged tightly one of the GOP’s most repugnant campaign ploys: voter suppression.

Many Gingrich critics would argue that there is nothing new about his use of racially-coded rhetoric and not-so-subtle nods to the prejudices of ultra-conservative whites. They point to his attacks on welfare during the ‘90s, when he co-authored the Contract with America, which called for slashing benefits to poor, single mothers. (In his Georgia speech, Gingrich also called President Barack Obama “the most successful food stamp president in American history.”)

I remember that period, too, but I didn’t view Gingrich’s enthusiasm for curbing welfare as prima facie evidence of racially-tinged politics. After all, conservative Republicans have always been skeptical of the social safety net.

During that same era, Gingrich worked to save the Republican Party from its growing reputation as the last resort of mossbacks and racists. He foiled a GOP effort to launch a full-scale assault on affirmative action. In 1996, he said that the Republican Party should spend “four times as much effort reaching out to the black community to ensure that they know they will not be discriminated against, as compared to the amount of effort we’ve put into saying we’re against quotas and set-asides.”

But that was a Gingrich who was in a position of power as Speaker of the House. He was getting plenty of press. He could afford to be temperate.

Lately, as he flirted with a presidential bid, he’s been tempted to criticisms of President Obama that range far beyond standard conservative fare. Last year, he endorsed a view of Obama’s politics as “Kenyan” and “anti-colonial,” a statement that was as ridiculous as it was racist.

But even that didn’t go to the core of one of the country’s greatest historical failings: disenfranchisement of black voters. For decades after the passage of the 15th Amendment, Southern states did everything they could — violence, intimidation, ridiculous “tests” — to keep black citizens from exercising their right to vote. As recently as the 1960s, the black franchise was largely restricted in the South.

And Gingrich, who likes to brandish his academic credentials, knows that. It’s shameful to hear him suggest that voting should be restricted on the basis of a test.

Given his considerable baggage, it’s unlikely Gingrich can   claim the GOP nomination for the presidency. He should have had the grace to try to go out with the better part of his legacy intact.

— — Cynthia Tucker

456 comments Add your comment

huh?

May 18th, 2011
9:55 am

cant call a spade a spade anymore

huh?

May 18th, 2011
9:56 am

Oh the irony!!!!

May 18th, 2011
9:56 am

CT, if you were any more stupid you would be a rock. If you were anymore shameless and dishonest you would be Satan. Stating FACTS is not racist. Where did he even mention a particular race?

Racism is being aware enough to realize your own people are decades behind everyone else and a constant drag on society and being totally at peace with it.

Nothing funnier than the Queen racist screaming racism herself!

Now get back to your hate girl, you have been owned.

huh?

May 18th, 2011
9:57 am

Let’s look at the George Soros nfluence here and you tell me if it makes sense.

George Soros, who is on record , talking out of his rear end about Jews, even though he’s Jewish, funds liberal media outlets which CT sits on the board of, which gives her a platform to call a white man racist for pointing out the shortcommings of people of another race.

I honestly can’t tell who is more racist, Soros, CT, or Newt.
We need a Latino to step in and throw some mud around, or maybe an Asian or two.

ByteMe

May 18th, 2011
10:01 am

With that, Gingrich dived head-first into the slimy trough of the Southern strategy, wallowing in a tactic that seeks to stoke the fears and misapprehensions of whites still uncomfortable with black advancement.

Over-reaction on your part, CT. Likely there’s more ignorant white trash who vote Republican as ignorant blacks who vote Democrat. Perhaps this is a “Northern Strategy” — more in keeping with Gingrich’s home of late — since that’s where you’ll find better educational advancement than down here in the stubbornly undereducated South.

Not saying he’s right, either. I’m saying you’re attacking him for a perceived slight instead of all the real ones he manifests every time he opens his mouth.

Some people are stupid

May 18th, 2011
10:01 am

huh?
How is talking about jews if you are jewish racist???

J coner

May 18th, 2011
10:02 am

hahaha…..Lord knows we don’t need any informed citizens casting votes…oh the humanity.

Some people are stupid

May 18th, 2011
10:02 am

huh?

Also, I’m beginning to see a little of what you think about other races in the following sentence:
which gives her a platform to call a white man racist for pointing out the shortcommings of people of another race.

NEwt didn’t mention another race. He merely said that most citizens wouldn’t be able to pass the citizenship test. Cynthia surmised this to the southern strategy which included poll testing.

So where did NEwt(the white guy) point out the shortcomings of any race??

Scooter (The Original)

May 18th, 2011
10:04 am

Cynthia, it is you who just played the race card.

Tommy Maddox

May 18th, 2011
10:06 am

Ever since a 1/2 white person ran for and subsequently obtained office, you have claimed that most anything stated by a white guy or gal on the Right is racist. That rug has long been worn out.

twisted

May 18th, 2011
10:07 am

If my race was challenged to a test to prove our worthiness to vote for elected officials, I would be excited and strive to ace that test and encourage others to do the same. It would be a great chance to show your equality from an intelligence standpoint. Or are you saying blacks are generally less likely to pass a test? That seems like a racist assumption to me.

Why would anyone, sit down and say, NO, I refuse to educate myself just to prove a point?

huh?

May 18th, 2011
10:08 am

some people – fair question, maybe I just considered the source and the color of the skin of his voting base and read between the lines. I inferred it., just like CT.

Alecia

May 18th, 2011
10:09 am

So we are to assume from Cyntha’s comment, that blacks are not informed on current events or history. Perhaps if voters of all race,creed, and background were more informed we would not have half the clowns in office we have today.

Terrence

May 18th, 2011
10:11 am

The people who fought to take away the franchise of black voters during the bad old days… were they Democrats or Republicans? Who was it that sent in the army to desegregate the schools down in Arkansas– was that a Republican or a Democrat? Which political party was set up as the anti-slavery party– Democrat or Republican? What party did the Great Emancipator hail from– Republican or Democrat? Was MLK a Democrat or a Republican? Hmmm…

MoreRightthanLeft

May 18th, 2011
10:12 am

Ct- really? OMG, 43-46 million people are on food stamps…True!!!
thats a code? lol, nice stretch…all White People!! ATTN: we have to change our secret Code books now, they found out….crap!!!

Gator Joe

May 18th, 2011
10:15 am

Cynthia,
Where would the modern Republican Party be without the Southern Racists and Bigots? Gingrich and others have chosen to capitalize on, and inflame, the ignorance, insecurity, racism, and bigotry of whites, especially white Southerners. He is profoundly unqualified to be president, but then again so are most of the Republican contenders.

kayaker 71

May 18th, 2011
10:16 am

CT,

What’s wrong with being an informed voter? I would like all races and all of the electorate to be more informed about who they are voting for. There are lots of whites and latinos who need to be more informed as well. Newt didn’t point out any one particular ethnic group. You seem to have done a pretty good job of that, CT. Voter literacy tests are a thing of the past, CT, like the Smith Corona typewriter and the 8 track. Getting all bristled up over what perceive as a “racial comment” made by a very well informed candidate shows that you have a pretty thin skin. BTW, there are more people on food stamps in 2011 than at any time in our history.

spinning wheels

May 18th, 2011
10:17 am

we are all racist to some degree, it’s part of human nature…pre-dating the civil war and even recorded history. So pointing out that someone might have made some racist comments proves what exactly?

What blacks seem to have a hard time understanding is, when 98% (or whatever the number was) of them turn out to vote for the 1st black man to have a shot at the white house and something like 40% of whites turn out to vote for that same black guy. If you had to pick one group that was basing their vote on the color of the skin and not the content of the character, which one would you choose.

So when someone like CT stands up and plays the victim card b/c someone might have made a racist or at least a non PC comment, it falls on deaf ears b/c blacks are just as racist as whites, get over it, we see it all the time, we just don’t get to write articles about it, ect.

David B.

May 18th, 2011
10:19 am

I’m not sure it’s racist, but I’m positive that it’s wrong. If you are 18 and an American citizen, you have the right to vote – period.

Some people are stupid

May 18th, 2011
10:21 am

spinning wheels

1. I think it was 95%
2. The previous election 90% of blacks voted for the democratic candidate.
3. So you are telling me there is a 5% swag because he is black…wow….

Jack

May 18th, 2011
10:31 am

Promoting racial unrest is her long suit. Always has been. If Obama said what Newt said, it’d be okay.

kayaker 71

May 18th, 2011
10:33 am

During the last election, some pretty funny clips were aired on Leno and Letterman. Some are on You Tube. Voters were interviewed on the street and asked who they were going to vote for. Some of the answers were not just plain funny but pathetic. Many didn’t even know who the candidates were, most couldn’t name the Vice President or the Secretary of State. More than one interviewee giggled and said that they were going to vote for a particular candidate because he was “cute”. Yeah, we can all vote…. no one is disputing that. But we put some of the worst people in office by not being informed on the issues. Voting is not just a right, it is an obligation. But at the same time, the obligation extends to all of us to know who we are voting for, no matter your political party. I would like to give Newt the benefit of the doubt on this one. I really don’t think that he is a racist. Criticism of the average voter for not being informed is not racist, no matter what your ethnic group.

emmysmom

May 18th, 2011
10:35 am

What exactly is racist about what he said?

The Capt.

May 18th, 2011
10:37 am

After reading these comments, what’s surprising is the amount of racism that STILL exists out of White ignorance. Let Gingrich have his test about American History for voting, and more White folks will not be able to vote than any other group, if this test is applied. White folks are ignorant to the history of their ancestors. It’s a rare White family in America that doesn’t have bigots bending branches on their family tree.

Race card is an expression born out of White folks who attempt to marginalize their bigotry. There is not card that allows us past your fear, insecurity and ignorance with respect to equal access to housing, capital, education, jobs, political office, etc. and it’s documented in government records. Bigots are insecure cowards who find difficulty in admitting they are what they are… RACISTS!

hsn

May 18th, 2011
10:37 am

“spinning wheels

1. I think it was 95%
2. The previous election 90% of blacks voted for the democratic candidate.
3. So you are telling me there is a 5% swag because he is black…wow…. ”

==============

1. What percentage of McCain voters were whites (99.999% or so)?
2. In the previous election, what percentage of whites voted for the republican candidate?
3. So you are telling me there is 0.0001% swag because McCain is white… Wow !!

Douglas

May 18th, 2011
10:38 am

This has to be one of the worst editorials I have ever read. You somehow make the brilliantly retarded transition of Gingrich talking about people needing to be educated to make informed decisions (something I think we can all agree on to an extent), and then take that to playing a race card? So are you saying black people are generally stupid? Lets break down your logic:

C = Gingrich is racist
A = Gingrich requests educational prerequisties for voting

If A leads to B, then B leads to C so B has to equal what:
B = Requesting educational prerequisties for voting is racist

So you are basically saying that a white man asking for people to be educated before they vote is an afront to black people specifically? Wow.

I think you are in some need of education, or at least need to cut out the sensational smear writing, because you seem to be more of the racist to me than him at this point.

liberalefty

May 18th, 2011
10:43 am

liberalefty

May 18th, 2011
10:47 am

poll tax poll tax poll tax

Jim Pierce

May 18th, 2011
10:48 am

That was very possibly the DUMBEST article I’ve ever read.

stranger in a strange land

May 18th, 2011
10:49 am

If you’ve read CT columns for more than 30 days – then you know race card, racist, racism, any/all variations of that theme are going to appear regularlly. My only surprise: the increasing frequency.
My only question: is there anyone left (other than CT since she keeps churning these out) out there who actually believes this type journalism / debate will actually change anyone’s mind one iota – one way or the other.
There – I just wasted 5 minutes of my life.

Logic 05

May 18th, 2011
10:51 am

Where is your logic? There are many people (white, black and others) too stupid to vote. He said, “But maybe we should also have a voting standard that says to vote, as a native-born American, you should have to learn American history. You realize how many of our high school graduates, because of the decay of the educational system, couldn’t pass a citizenship test?”

This makes sense to everyone except a left wing liberal.

Joe the Historian

May 18th, 2011
10:52 am

And which version of American History would be offered? The version that continues to maintain “the Civil War was not about slavery”? The version that suggests we invaded and occupied Iraq in order to avenge 9/11 and find WMDs? How about the versions of American History proferred by the “birthers” and 9/11 truthers”? I’m just kidding, of course. I am CERTAIN Newt is referring to the historical fact that the total number of white Americans receiving “food stamps” exceeds black Americans.

The Truth

May 18th, 2011
10:53 am

That’s a huge leap to say that someone is a racist, more specifically a racist against black people, for suggesting that as a requirement for voting in the USA, prospective voters should know their american history. Who is really playing the race card here??

Cynthia's Song

May 18th, 2011
10:55 am

The old disenfranchising poll tests. A fiendish manuever by Newt! This is how Aaron Burr got elected president. Of course he was impeached after he waxed Hamilton, but nonetheless, the Neanderthal Ne’er-do-well Newt could easily accomplish the white house with this tactic.

Newt 2012: It’s Newt’s turn. It is. It’s his turn. Let Newt have his turn.

DW

May 18th, 2011
10:55 am

GINGRICH = Worlds largest d0uche-bag. Quite an accomplishment

RGB

May 18th, 2011
10:56 am

It must be hell waking up every single morning and seeing imaginary dogs and imaginary fire hoses–all assembled by imaginary now-Republicans just laying in wait to deny your right to vote.

LydiasDad

May 18th, 2011
10:57 am

Is CT really accusing someone else of playing the race card? If it weren’t so sadly hypocritical, I’d have to laugh. Pottle, kettle, black. Or wait, is that racist too? It is to crazy libs.

D. Truth

May 18th, 2011
10:57 am

By using Newt’s logic, Michele Bachmann wouldn’t be eligible to vote.

liberalefty

May 18th, 2011
10:57 am

PONEWT…he’s so misunderstood…i think he should go on the OPRAH WINFREY show..

kayaker 71

May 18th, 2011
10:58 am

Why are we not talking about the 1,372 firms, corporations, businesses, across the US who have waivers to Bozocare? Pelosi’s district in CA had 20%, that’s one fifth of the waiver applications, nationwide. Many businesses said that if not for the waiver, that they would have to lay off workers. Some said that they would go out of business if they had to conform to the new law. There are so many issues out there that merit debate. And CT has to play the race card again by suggesting that Newt advocates voter literacy testing. You are digging pretty deep today, CT.

DB

May 18th, 2011
10:58 am

Politics has become the arena for scumbags, liars and hate mongers. You can’t trust a politicians anymore than a criminal in court. I don’t see how Nathan Deal was elected to be Governor with his shady history, Newt Gingrich is no better cheated not once but twice and then divorced his cancer battling wife. These are the types of people that want to tell us what we should do, right and wrong.

If you tactic solely lies within bashing your candidate, you are NOT the man for the job

Cynthia's Song

May 18th, 2011
10:58 am

Newt 2012: It’s Newt’s turn 4 a term. Come on, let him have his term. You’ve all had your turn, and now it’s Newt’s turn. It just is. It’s his turn. Newt’s turn to have a term. Newt’s turn 4 a term.

Martin the Calvinist

May 18th, 2011
10:59 am

Newt G. is a bad candidate for president, he will not get my vote. With that being said, most people think we are a democracy which isn’t true, we are a limited democratic representative republic. A world of difference there. It can be easily argued that most people don’t understand the Constitution or how our gov’t works. There are many people who don’t even know who their Congressman or Senator is. That is just irresponsible.

jt

May 18th, 2011
10:59 am

“Mossback” is a discriminatory term associated with geezer, wheeze-bag, Q-Tip, etc………….

AGEISM………..also called age discrimination is stereotyping of and discrimination against individuals or groups because of their age. It is a set of beliefs, attitudes, norms, and values used to justify age based prejudice, discrimination……………

Let us get with the PC program Ms. Tucker.

Ragnar Danneskjöld

May 18th, 2011
11:00 am

Good morning all. I think our hostess is correct in her analysis, and I rarely agree with her. Mr. Gingrich offers a solution to the wrong problem.

I am an open-borders type, would like to see everyone here who wants to be here. However, it does not logically follow that I want people voting when they hold no connection to our traditions or customs. “Americanism” is worthy – that is why everyone wants to be here – and something akin to Mr. Gingrich’s “test” is wholly appropriate as a basis for participation in the “controls” of the great American experiment.

As to ensuring the sanctity of freedom, I would proffer instead a theory conceived (to my best knowledge) by Dr. Walter E Williams. Dr. Williams correctly observes that “democracy is two wolves and a sheep voting on dinner.” Many observers, Ben Franklin to Toqueville to the best thinkers today, realize that “the rabble” will sell their votes for a mess of pottage, and our democrat overlords have been more than willing to distribute crumbs.

Dr. Williams proposes amending the American voting system to provide something akin to corporate shareholder control, each taxpayer to hold one vote per $10,000 in Federal taxes paid. I would cumulate those votes over a lifetime. Thus those who pay the taxes would have a more significant voice in the spending of taxpayer funds. As it is the productive people of society who are more likely to invest and spend wisely, the result of such voting could only diminish democrat vote buying, and improve the prospects of our culture.

Joe the Linguist

May 18th, 2011
11:01 am

It seems to me that perhaps some of the Gingerich-defenders (more accurately, Cynthia Tucker attackers) might benefit from Reading Comprehension courses as a prerequisite to posting on this blog. It is important to note the difference between calling someone “a racist” and noting (IN AN EDITORIAL) one’s disdain for politicians who dabble in “racially-coded rhetoric” or employ “the race card”. Big difference my friends, and here is why. The use of “racially-coded rhetoric” and/or “the race card” is transparent. It is of value to both the left and the right. It appeals to the “base” of either movement. If anything, I might throw a tomato at Cynthia for her foolish, delusional faux pas of (even for a moment) thinking Newt Gingerich (or any politician for that matter) is anything less than a shameless, pandering cynic.

Cynthia's Song

May 18th, 2011
11:02 am

If Newt had his turn, then we’d take a turn for the better or worse, but it would be his turn, and that’s just a term he needs a turn 4.

Newt 2012: Let Newt have his turn. Come on, you’ve had your turn. Now it’s Newt’s turn.

Libertarian

May 18th, 2011
11:05 am

This is a stretch, even for you CT. So basically what you’re saying is that “minorities” can’t pass a citizenship test? That’s just racist CT.

No Linguist There

May 18th, 2011
11:05 am

Joe the Linguist can’t even spell Newt’s last name.

His other points, well, just fell by the wayside.

Lefty

May 18th, 2011
11:06 am

Wow. Cynthia, I’ve run across a few of your articles over the last few months. I think you keep regurgitating the same op-ed pieces into each new story you take on. Every time I read an article of yours, I get this creepy deja-vu feeling that I’ve already been through it all before. My jaw still hurts from how hard it dropped when I saw an article with your name on it, claiming that a white man played a race card. “This has to be satire,” I thought, “or maybe I misread something. She can’t honestly be serious, can she?” Oh yes, I found, you were serious.

It’s utterly appalling what a delusional, self-absorbed bigot you are, and so is the fact that there’s even a single person on here who gives credence to the inane hate-mongering you do for the Atlanta Journal. They should’ve cut you off already for the bigoted garbage you spew. Can’t imagine they think this banal trash is worth continued employment, much less an actual paycheck. Grow up, ditch the cloud of paranoid martyrdom that’s choking everybody who reads the waste you post, and get a legitimate job that teaches you a new skill, something besides perpetuating the mundane racism you like to blame on white people. If you could pull your head back out of the 1850s and join us in the present, you might realize that with friends like you, the black community doesn’t really need enemies.