- The Washington Times - Tuesday, September 6, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

ANALYSIS/OPINION

Bill Clinton was elected president on a simple slogan: “It’s the economy, Stupid.” The message was posted on the wall in the campaign headquarters in Little Rock. No one was allowed to be stupid enough to question or forget what the campaign was about. The rest is history.

Barack Obama and his wise men are still casting about for a winning theme for 2012. The best anyone has come up with is, “It’s NOT about the economy, Stupid.”

But who would buy that?

So to win, the Democrats must paint those who disagree with the president as racists. This worked in ‘08. Eager to demonstrate how far the nation had come from the bad old days of separate but equal, of fire hoses, snarling police dogs and church bombings, millions of Americans embraced Barack Obama and the opportunity to install a black man in the White House.

Never before had a nation so turned itself inside out to make amends to an abused minority, and how better for Americans to celebrate reform and redemption than to elect a black president. The accompanying message, made loud and clear by implication and plain speech, was that a vote for anyone but Barack Obama was a vote for bigotry. The “community activist” who had served only an undistinguished half of a Senate term was a candidate of no particular qualification, but no one was allowed to say so.

Al Gore, the grown-up little boy still crying “wolf,” has extended the accusation to global warming, the evil greater than all others. One day, Al says, skeptics of global warming “science” will be regarded in the way nice people regard unrepentant racists today. Al even remembers himself as a civil rights hero; Martin Luther King hogged some of the glory that rightly belongs to Al.

“There came a time when friends or people you work with, or people you were in clubs with … when racist comments would come up in the conversation and in years past they were just natural,” Al recalled the other day to an interviewer for something called UStream. “Then there came a time when people [like Al] would say, ‘Hey, man, why do you talk that way? I mean that is wrong. I don’t go for that so don’t talk that way around me. I just don’t believe that.’ That happened in millions of conversations and slowly the conversation was won. We have to win the conversation on climate.”

Heroic stuff for sure, but you have to wonder how Al found time to win millions of conversations with his racist pals while thinking about one day inventing the Internet.

Wit like Al’s is where you find it, of course, and when a gaggle of professors gathers there’s so much humor, nimble banter, scintillation, clever repartee and intellectual horseplay hanging in the air with insights and perceptions that the descent into buffoonery is inevitable. The American Political Science Association gathered in Seattle over the weekend and you could have papered a barn with the learned conclusion that in every tea party voter there’s a racist struggling to escape.

The professors have been writing about an 11-month-old voter survey, The Washington Times’ Steve Dinan reported, and they showed up to read learned papers no one else would. One professor at the University of California at San Diego conceded there’s nothing “intrinsically racist” about opposing liberal schemes like global warming or Obamacare, but he said the tea party movement nevertheless appeals mostly to racists. A professor at Emory University says such Republicans, who are likely to be older, wealthier and evangelical Christians, think blacks could overcome prejudice if they work harder in the example of Irish, Italian and Jewish immigrants.

Tea party voters, the professor concludes in what he calls a “multivariate analysis,” display “racial resentment” and hold “negative opinions” about President Obama. (Who but a racist would do that?)

A graduate student at UCLA observed that tea party voters think capitalism is a good idea and that explains why, as hard to believe as it may be, such voters think success is the reward of hard work.

Tempting it may be, but the president and his party should be wary of finding comfort and inspiration in the work of professors who mistake the opinion of their peers for the opinion of the public. One professor of “variables” even concluded that “we failed to find any systematic evidence that the tea party was responsible for the Republican success in 2010.” Such political insight explains only why the professor is a professor.

Wesley Pruden is editor emeritus of The Washington Times.

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