The long hunt for the new leader of the Republican Party has at last come to an end, and the winner isn’t Rush Limbaugh, Mitt Romney, or even Sarah Palin, but this woman in a red T-shirt:
If you’re going to lead a low-tech lynch mob, you’ve got to be able to get that Gilbert Gottfried screech into your voice like the Lady in Red does when she says, “I want my country back!” That’s leadership for you, ever so much more forceful than poor Delaware Rep. Mike Castle, a GOP moderate (one of eight who voted for the House climate change bill), who seems to be ducking a personal Oxbow Incident by meekly asking the crowd if they’d like him to “lead” the Pledge of Allegiance. By then the crowd is already on its feet, one hand on their hearts and the other on an imaginary holster, insisting, like their dimestore-flag-waving leader, that they “don’t want this flag to change!”
It’s paranoid, it’s deranged, and it’s as American as Andrew Jackson and the rebel yell. What’s different now is that the nativist right has finally had their bluff called by the landslide election of a black man as president, and their centuries-old legitimacy is in question as it never has been since Appomattox. So they are desperately projecting that self-doubt onto reality itself.
Of course, the Lady in Red couldn’t scream the N-word in a townhall meeting (which, by the way, was called to discuss healthcare reform), so she screamed about his birth certificate. Karl Rove mentor Lee Atwater called this shot nearly three decades ago, when he explained how the Republican Party should parse its racism for the 20th century and beyond:
You start out in 1954 by saying, `Nigger, nigger, nigger.’ By 1968 you can’t say `nigger’–that hurts you. Backfires. So you say stuff like forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff. You’re getting so abstract now [that] you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is [that] blacks get hurt worse than whites.