Campaign 2012: The Return to Nixonland

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Elias Isquith

Elias Isquith is a freelance journalist and blogger. He considers Bob Dylan and Walter Sobchak to be the two great Jewish thinkers of our time; he thinks Kafka was half-right when he said there was hope, "but not for us"; and he can be reached through the twitter via @eliasisquith or via email. The opinions he expresses on the blog and throughout the interwebs are exclusively his own.

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151 Responses

  1. Avatar Tod Kelly says:

    Pictures, damn it! Pictures!Report

  2. Avatar North says:

    Lord, I hated the rainbow-sparkle themes of Obama as a post partisan great hope. I also loathed the years of Obama playing a wide eyed credulous GOP punching bag while he waited until everyone was convinced it wasn’t his fault when he unleashed his partisan side.
    It’s annoyong though, after four years of all this fooferaw and what do we have? A no holds bared partisan Presidential candidate who tacks to the center on most policy positions and has a foreign policy program being controlled by a Clinton. In other words we nominated Obama and four years of Bambi later we end up with Hillary. Me, I wish we’d just cut out the middle years and nominated her in the first place.Report

    • Avatar MikeSchilling in reply to North says:

      I preferred Obama because I knew Hillary would be a weak-kneed squish like her husband, and I didn’t know that for a fact about him. Now it’s clearly six of one half a dozen of the other.Report

      • Avatar BobbyC in reply to MikeSchilling says:

        It’s hard not to think that Hillary would have been better (and maybe still will be).Report

        • Avatar Morzer in reply to BobbyC says:

          Oh for heaven’s sake, have you really forgotten the Dick Morris years? The endless triangulation? The heroic fights over.. school uniforms? The fuck-up of healthcare reform? Obama got more done in his first 2 years than the Clintons did in 8. Could we just remember that fact before the masturbatory white self-pity party begins in Fortress Gliberal?Report

          • Avatar North in reply to Morzer says:

            A vacuous comparison, we wouldn’t have been getting the 1992 Clintons; we’d have been getting the 2008 ones with all their associated hard learned lessons and battle scars.

            Obviously historical counterfactuals are ultimately exercises in daydreaming but it’s hard to imagine that Hillary, who would have been elected without much of that “Hope, Change & a New Kind of Politics” bull, would not have had any reason nor tolerance for doing the “kick me again and again” game that Obama spent much of his first term indulging in. I don’t see any reason to think that Hillary wouldn’t have accomplished at least what the current President did in his first term and I see plenty of reasons to think she wouldn’t have had the same distractions and political tiks that cost him so much capital/legislative time in his first go round (though in fairness she’d have probably had some of her own).Report

          • Avatar BobbyC in reply to Morzer says:

            I think the Clintons at least understood economics. And I don’t like what Obama “got done” – he has moved us further from a single-payer health care system for instance for the sake of insuring a few more people in a corrupt and fundamentally inappropriate for-profit health insurance system (people are generally dumb to buy health insurance from a for-profit company in my view, for economic reasons). Obama has basically copped to being naive and weak in his first term, saying that he forgot about the bully-pulpit part of the job; I turned on him when he abdicated on the stimulus bill and it has generally been downhill from there, from his slowness on gay rights and immigration policy to his paradoxical AF strategy and dishonest cyber war against Iran coupled with false engagement.Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to North says:

      nation couldn’t afford hillary. still can’t. Wall Street’s woman ain’t in our court.Report

    • Avatar Scott Fields in reply to North says:

      I also loathed the years of Obama playing a wide eyed credulous GOP punching bag while he waited until everyone was convinced it wasn’t his fault when he unleashed his partisan side.

      North –

      You acknowledge the problem with counterfactuals and the likelihood that Mrs. Clinton would have been hindered by her own distractions and tics below, so I’ll leave those points aside. But, I really think you’re missing the advantages of the long game approach Obama has taken. I’m not talking about any 11th dimensional chess BS, rather I’m convinced Obama has been working from an action plan based on 8 years all along and that the time you feel was lost to establishing GOP culpability was set-up that was necessary in the grand scheme of things.

      DADT is a good example of this broader approach in microcosm. What seemed wasted time given to military studies on impacts really set the stage for an end to that policy that will be much harder to undo than if he’d taken the executive order route. Healthcare reform, the wars, left-center approaches to energy policy, debt reduction and tax reform will all be in a place from which there will be no turning back by the end of his second term.

      Granted, he could lose re-election and this whole approach would prove to be an abject failure. But I see no evidence to suggest that greater ball-busting partisanship from Obama from the beginning would have improved his chances for re-election all other conditions (economy, GOP obstruction) remaining the same.

      Let it play out before you decide how you feel about those first couple of years.Report

      • Avatar North in reply to Scott Fields says:

        That remains to be seen Scott. One reason I think Obama is fighting so ferociously is that you’re correct: if he looses this one he’ll go down as one of the biggest chumps in the history of the Party if not the country. DADT is pretty much nailed down and I’d agree heartily that it was done correctly (and I’d assert that H with her deference to the military would likely have killed it in a similar manner).

        But I remain deeply skeptical of the assertions of long game three dimensional chess on Obamas part. His reaction on HCR was one of wounded confusion “I gave them everything they asked for in ’94, why won’t they get on board???” and his reaction to the debt limit show down was more like wide eyed incredulous panic (and let us not forget that the debt limit show down was a direct consequence of his having spent much of his first term chasing GOP senators around a table bugs bunny style and running out his legislative clock). His campaign strikes me as the work of a man who planted “magical chocolate seeds”, ended up with lemons and is now trying hard to turn lemons into hot coco.

        But yes, if Obama wins he’ll be hailed as a genuis no doubt. I’ll still have found those first couple years of his very tiresome.Report

        • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to North says:

          I always read Mr. North top to bottom. I get the sense he reciprocates, a beautiful thing.

          his reaction to the debt limit show down was more like wide eyed incredulous panic

          Monsieur N., the [raising the] debt limit debate is a ritual. Usually, the usual protests are usually raised, the usual suspect in vulnerable districts vote nay, the comfortable rest vote yea, then they raise the debt limit. Next.

          Let’s get back to the serious business of naming post offices after Jean or Joe or-a whoknowswho. This can only be done by an act of Congress!

          The 2010 Tea Party Congress—[if we may call the GOP capture of the House of Representatives that] turned the debt limit debate into a debate on the debt limit.

          The bastards!

          On the other hand, the House was designed for the representation of us bastards. If we were proper-born with all the right connections, we’d be senators, you & I.Report

  3. Avatar wardsmith says:

    You forgot the other similarity. Nixon and Obama’s Enemies list.

    Oh wait, you wanted this to be all about race and have nothing to do with old school bare knuckled political brawling, including using the power of the state to demonize opponents? Whoops, my bad.Report

    • Avatar Dan Miller in reply to wardsmith says:

      Since when is the Obama campaign an arm of the state? There are certain entanglements (e.g. candidate Obama gets Secret Service protection), but just like every other sitting president running for reelection, the campaign is separate from the government. Unless you can show actual government action to harm Romney donors–and having your name published on a website by the campaign does not count–this is an empty accusation.Report

      • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Dan Miller says:

        Empty accusation? I guess for a hard boiled partisan like you, every SINGLE donor needs to be audited by the federal government before you’ll make any connection, and not likely even then. Of course in intelligence circles the saying is, “There are no such things as coincidences”. Luckily you’re not in those circles.Report

        • Avatar Turgid Jacobian in reply to wardsmith says:

          No offense, but based on what you consider evidence of causality, God help us all if you *are* in intelligence circles. That would be more terrifying than any number of enemies lists.Report

    • Mr. Wardsmith, you won this debate with your first comment. President Obama has an enemies list just like Richard Nixon.

      And it’s much much bigger. It doesn’t even have names on it. It’s just a

      “If Latinos sit out the election instead of saying, ‘We’re gonna punish our enemies and we’re gonna reward our friends who stand with us on issues that are important to us,’ if they don’t see that kind of upsurge in voting in this election, then I think it’s gonna be harder and that’s why I think it’s so important that people focus on voting on November 2.”—President Obama, right before the 2010 midterm elections.

      http://www.weeklystandard.com/blogs/obama-latinos-punish-your-enemies-voting-booth_511932.html

      That’s not right.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

        Right on, President! You’re damn right that Latinos should consider folks who want to make their mere skin tone illegal to be enemies. And if they opt to punish those who demonstrate no concern for their interests by exercising their right to vote and voting them out, power to them!Report

        • Avatar Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

          Kazzy:

          “You’re damn right that Latinos should consider folks who want to make their mere skin tone illegal to be enemies.”

          It might be easier to take you seriously if you didn’t sound like crazy uncle Joe Biden. Who outside of your fantasy world has proposed such a thing?Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

            That would be the governor of Arizona. Of which party? That’s right. The GOP. Also the governor of Georgia, whose idiotic Proposition 87 meant that the migrant workers fled and now the crops aren’t getting picked. Again, which party? GOP. Michigan, big crackdowns, the migrant workers ran away. Which party? GOP. Alabama, same story. Which party? GOP. Mississippi? Huge troubles. Party? GOP.

            Get real, Scott. In the real world, crops aren’t getting picked.Report

  4. Avatar joey jo jo says:

    Whether one liked the hope and change stuff or not, it was an effective (and not terribly novel–some chick named Sarah solely ran “change” campaigns before 2008) campaign strategy. That the GOP latched onto the “how’s that hopey changey thing working out” mantra immediately after the election highlights this. I’d prefer that people vote based on information rather than emotion, but a vote is a vote (not valid in PA/OH/AZ).Report

  5. Avatar NewDealer says:

    1. There will never be an end to the culture war because it goes beyond race. There are way too many issues involved dealing with too much geographic diversity. Even without racial issues, we would still have serious culture war battles between secular oriented people who have no problems with pre-marital sex and pornography and those that do. There are plenty of culture wars that exist within the left itself. Probably within the right itself.

    2. Completely unrelated but essays on this subject always make me wonder whether Jews count as being white or not in terms of American politics. Many or Most American Jews do come from European ancestry, mainly Eastern European. Yet around 80 percent of American Jews are still strong supporters of the Democratic Party.

    Of course American history has a long-tradition of groups becoming “white”. Irish and Italians used to be considered not-white in the United States and now both ethnic groups are seen as being white Americans. I believe that many or most Americans of Irish and Italian origin/ethnicity do vote Republican and this adds to their “whiteness”

    Yet Jewish-Americans are largely just as assimilated and tend to be members of the upper-middle class or above but we are still seen as a core group in the base of the Democratic party. Much to the frustration of the Republicans who seem really desperate to court Jews. Eric Cantor is the only Jewish Republican in Congress. The same issues exist on the state level.

    I am very curious about why Jews stayed as loyal Democrats even as other ethnic Whites like the Irish, Italians, etc moved to the Republican party.Report

    • Avatar Burt Likko in reply to NewDealer says:

      I don’t think it’s the case that Jewish voters are staying loyal to the Democrats. I know lots of conservative, Republican folks who happen to be Jewish.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Burt Likko says:

        The split seems to be 80 percent of Jewish voters are Democratic and about 20 percent are Jewish.

        Those 20 percent are very very vocal and also seemingly very angry about being a minority in a minority. You can see this in the comments section of Tablet magazine which seems to feature a lot of bashing of Jews for being Reform or Conservative instead of Orthodox and Democratic instead of Republican neo-con.

        My stance has always been with friends like Michelle Bachmann, the Jews do not need enemies. Seriously, the alliance between Jewish neo-cons and Christian Evangelicals is politics at its most cynical. Evangelicals and Fundamentalists support Israel because they think that all the Jewish need to live in Israel before the Book of Revelations can happen. Jewish neo-Cons must think they are just playing these people for fools.

        It seems that since 2004, the same dance gets played every two or four years. There is a lot of writing in the media about whether Jews will make “the switch” and pull the lever for Republicans and every year the ratio is the same. Roughly 75-80 percent of Jews vote Democratic and 220-25 percent vote Republican. A study came out a few months ago showing that Jews care about a lot more than Israel and most do have social justice beliefs for welfare programs. Adam Sewer wrote about this study in Mother Jones.

        The Republican Jews tend to be neocons like Pamela Greer, Kristol, and Jennifer Rubin or the ultra-Orthodox. Jennifer Rubin has a reputation for being rather unhinged in her writings on “Why or why do the Jews vote Democratic?”Report

    • Avatar Kimmi in reply to NewDealer says:

      Jews stayed in the cities, and have a real “social justice” ethos.
      The ones on welfare in my neighborhood sport Ron Paul signs.Report

      • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Kimmi says:

        Do you have any citations?

        I think it is fairly mixed among the Greatest generation and Boomers. My mom (born 1946) moved from the Bronx to Long Island when she was five and attended high school in a Jewish suburb. We attended the same high school (34 years apart) and it was still considered a Jewish suburb during my youth. About half my classmates were Jewish and I think the town had more synagogues than churches.

        On the other hand, my dad grew up in Washington Heights.Report

        • Avatar Kimmi in reply to NewDealer says:

          I walk my Jewish neighborhood (Squirrel Hill, pittsburgh). I could give you addresses, if you really want to verify…

          I guess I shouldn’t say that everyone stayed in the cities — but people didn’t move as much out to small towns, and seemed to migrate to cities, judging by my own geneology. Jews had more pressure to stay in cities, because of both walkability and community (more apparent when you aren’t in NYC, granted. NYC, you got enough jews to make plenty of suburbs purely jewish)Report

  6. You’re not going to get away with the race card this time. Biden gave away the game.

    “But playing on racial and generational resentment is one of the central tactics of the GOP…”

    http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2012/08/obama-defends-biden-after-chains-remark/Report

    • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      Heh, team Edward’s use of racial issues isn’t a problem, just team Jacob’s daring to point it out.

      If we had an ideological shills drinking game here at the League, we’d all be dead from liver failure before November.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to James Hanley says:

        James

        Get real, Dems get away with saying racist stuff all the time that no one would let Repubs get away with. Crazy uncle Joe is just the latest in Dem hypocrisy.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

          The best part about this line of rhetoric is that, because it is solely based in hypotheticals, it is impossible to refute.

          Anytime you are starting your argument with an “if”… it is probably best to just stop.

          Dems get rightfully pilloried when they say racist stuff. GOPers get rightfully pilloried when they say racist stuff. The extent to which there seems to be a disproportionate amount of attention is either a function of frequency (GOPers say racist stuff more often) or what media you choose to ingest (certain media members no doubt have their bias and if you limit who you listen to, results are going to skew).

          Scott, show us some examples of Dems getting away with saying racist stuff. And Biden doesn’t count since, well, WE’RE OBVIOUSLY DISCUSSING HIS RACIST STATEMENT RIGHT NOW!Report

          • Avatar Scott in reply to Kazzy says:

            Kazzy:

            Sorry the level of outrage is always greater for Repubs. Compare the fate of Trent Lott with his alleged racist statement when praising Thurmond and Biden on Obama being a “clean” black. Lott had to go but Biden became VP. Or Harry the molester Reid saying Obama would be a good candidate because he’s “light-skinned” and didn’t have a “Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one.” Harry is still here saying crap.Report

            • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Scott says:

              Lott resigned as Minority Leader and served for 5 more years before resigning to become a lobbyist, where he remains politically active. Reid is still serving because he opted not to resign.

              What exactly do you want to be equal? My outrage? You have no idea my response on the matter. The media response? You’ve yet to point to a broad divergence. The outcome? Well, unless you are now arguing on behalf of hate speech legislation, there is not the government could do about either man’s statements and the primary reason for the difference is because the choices of the two men.

              So, yea, you’ve yet to substantiate that Dems “get away” with saying racist stuff that GOPer’s never would.Report

            • Avatar Bad-ass Motherfisher in reply to Scott says:

              Lott had to go because he had told Strom Thurmond that he wished that he had won in his explicitly segregationist run for the presidency in 1948, saying that the US would be a better place. And out of sheer embarrassment, and the desire to maybe gain a black vote or two in a future election, Lott was pressured out of his speakership by Republicans.

              And whatever Reid said was, perhaps, inartful, but I find it hard to condemn as racist. He was doing an assessment of Obama’s political prospects (consequent to Reid’s own early endorsement of the candidate).

              I think part of the reason that Republicans get slammed for “racism” more often than Democrats, is that they don’t really understand what it is. Acknowledging that there is a distinct African-American dialect or accent isn’t ipso facto racist just because it mentions race.

              Implying that the United States would be a better place if we still kept black and white people legally separate might fall on the other side of that mysterious boundry, however.Report

            • Avatar Matty in reply to Scott says:

              Biden on Obama being a “clean” black

              This is clearly me being unable to hear dog whistles but the quote seems to be “I mean, you got the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy”

              To me that sounds like “He’s the first African-American who seems to me to have a chance and he’s a good public speaker with no known scandals in his background”

              Did he actually mean it is noteworthy that Obama has decent hygiene or am I missing something else.Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to Matty says:

                It’s something a man of his agegroup and demographic would use to describe any decent younger man.

                the problem is that it impacts on stereotypes of blacks as “watermelon eating savages” — thus making the comment a LOT less “harmless” than it would be if uttered against a white man.

                This is not to characterize it as a racist comment. Though it is to say that if Obama asked, Biden ought to apologize.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Matty says:

                So you honestly believe that if a Republican had described Barack Obama as “clean”, people would not fall all over themselves to describe it as racist patronization?Report

              • Avatar Kimmi in reply to DensityDuck says:

                If he had used the same phraseology as Biden (and, importantly, was of the same age group…) I’d have been the first person calling bullshit on any Democrat/liberal describing it as racist patronization.

                sagacious hillbilly took someone to the woodshed about calling an Older, Black gentleman “boy.” Age means something in these types of discussions — if the offending person had called someone twenty years younger “boy”, we’d all have less to bitch about.Report

    • Avatar wardsmith in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      Tom, you should enjoy this lawsuit.Report

    • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      Oh, I LOVE when Republicans play this game! They have never met a charge of racism levied against their own that they have found substantiated but GODDAMNIT if they don’t become the biggest champions of anti-racism as soon as someone from the other side does/says something racist.

      The faux outrage that Republicans and conservatives muster up when a Democrat or liberal does/says something racist would be a bit more believable if they didn’t spend so much time insisting that racism doesn’t exist anymore or that blacks are the REAL racists or whatever other nonsense they trot out.

      And, yes, Biden’s statement was stupid and thoughtless and regardless of what he meant, it was an offensive thing to say given the audience he was speaking to. Oh yea, and I hate Karl Marx, too.Report

      • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Kazzy says:

        And Bill Maher shouldn’t have said those things about Sarah Palin. Can’t forget that…Report

      • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

        If racism is bad, then racism is bad. If it’s virtuous to call out racism with, as it were, extreme prejudice, then it doesn’t matter who’s being racist.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to DensityDuck says:

          But it’s not virtuous because they’re not REALLY calling out racism… they’re simply using it as an excuse to further pile on their opponent. Calling out racism, in all honesty, isn’t particularly virtuous. Doing something to end racism is. Calling it out does not suffice.Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck in reply to Kazzy says:

            So it’s like Jaybird said; you can’t just be on the right side, you have to be on the right right side, for the right reasons, because otherwise you might as well be wrong.

            And, having once tasted the pleasures of being Right and Defending the True Faith, the Brethren went right on doing it and split up with each other at every opportunity, until all that was left of them were about seven men in the back room of the Tatum, Ohio town hall.Report

      • Avatar MFarmer in reply to Kazzy says:

        ” being one about an angry, hateful African-American president who is determined to provide handouts to anyone who asks. ”

        Charges of racism are what the Left resort to when they are losing. Yes, racism exists among Left and Right, but the charges above are juvenile and they disrepect the victims of real racism. This reveals a shallow understanding of the dynamics involved in this campaign, if it’s serious, or, if unserious, the author sinks to the lowest tactics possible to score cheap partisan points.Report

        • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to MFarmer says:

          Shouldn’t that be that charges of racism are what the left resort to when they are winning?

          http://core.talkingpointsmemo.com/election/scoreboardReport

          • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Tod Kelly says:

            No, no, no, Tod. The polls are only doing scientifically accurate random samples of voters. Mike Farmer has talked to a small biased sample of people who are voting against Obama. That’s indisputable evidence that Obama’s going to lose.Report

            • Avatar Rod in reply to James Hanley says:

              And all those people are in his head. They leave notes for him in the morning.Report

            • Avatar MFarmer in reply to James Hanley says:

              Automatons who can’t think for themselves are the only ones who believe Obama is winning. It’s sad to witness.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to MFarmer says:

                What evidence is there that Obama is NOT winning?Report

              • Avatar James Hanley in reply to Kazzy says:

                MFarmer talked to some folks who are voting for Romney. What more evidence do you need?

                Seriously, though, Mike, do you not understand the difference between a random sample and a biased sample? And why the first produces more reliable findings than the latter?

                In 1936, the Literary Digest did a poll that had 2 million respondents, and they picked Landon to defeat FDR in a landslide. George Gallup surveyed only 50,000, and correctly predicted FDR’s re-election. The larger sample size of the Digest’s poll made no difference, because it was a biased sample (names chosen based on telephone directories and auto registrations, which in 1936 meant only the wealthier folks). Gallup was correct because he randomly sampled respondents, ensuring a better cross-section of the voting population. In fact even Gallup’s poll was more than 25 times bigger than it needed to be–except when the difference between candidates is within the margin of error of the poll, 1200-1500 is all that’s really needed, when properly sampled.

                And there’s why, despite actively being able to think for myself, I believe the polls and not you. The polls are doing random sampling; you are using a non-random sample. Even if you talked to far more voters than the polling organizations did, you would still have no chance of being as accurate as they are.Report

              • Avatar NewDealer in reply to James Hanley says:

                MFarmer seems to also be on of those libertarians who give other libertarians a bad name by his simple belief that making Democratic supporters into the evil ones is a reason for existence.

                Not you or many others on this site but there does seem to be a healthy subset of libertarians who seem to get off more on annoying liberals. Stephen Brainbridge once made a comment on his blog about how he preferred some kind of policy or was sticking to one simply because it “annoys liberals”. This is a man who teaches at UCLA Law and he is still getting his greatest pleasure out of annoying liberals like a poorly socialized 12 year old adolescent likes annoying a substitute teacher.

                There seems to be a lot of this juvenile attitude in certain quarters of the right. I see a lot of “annoy a liberal” type of gear via t-shirts or bumper stickers. I have yet to see sale of “annoy a conservative” stuff to the same degree.Report

              • Avatar MFarmer in reply to James Hanley says:

                James, just because the predominant numbers are X doesn’t mean that substantially less numbers are more or less real than the swan imagined by Diogenes. To continue a stubborn campaign of linguine-style propositions based on no more than a pimpled-face nerd’s rearrangement of terms is as futile as denying a donkey fart, but you seem to think that current status quo mufflings are somehow bursting with truth when in reality the only ones who know have little to say on the matter. So, sir, take your snide undercuts and exit this quest before I snap the noetic whoopass on your intellectual wimpisnness.Report

      • Avatar BobbyC in reply to Kazzy says:

        Can’t one believe that (1) Republicans have way more outright and closet racist, so they end up having more party members saying racist stuff and getting caught … while also believing (2) because Republicans have a bit of racism problem, when Democrats do it they are not equally criticized?

        I believe both of those.Report

    • Avatar karl in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

      That’s not giving away the game, that’s describing the game.Report

      • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to karl says:

        Karl, they race-baited Bill Clinton, the “first black president,” to destroy Hillary. Race-baiting Republicans is so routine that the only thing worthy of note here is Biden’s incompetence at it.Report

        • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Evidence that they race-baited Bill Clinton. Hearsay does not qualify.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

          Tom- just wtf do you think the phrase “first black president” is supposed to mean or prove? Clinton wasn’t made an honorary black person and he actually wasn’t, actually, you know, black. Where do you think that phrase originated and why the heck does it have any forking meaning?Report

          • Avatar Kazzy in reply to greginak says:

            Toni Morrison originated the phrase. It is amazing how quick conservatives are to accept the contributions of black folks when it aids them in demonizing other black folks.Report

          • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to greginak says:

            Don’t, bro. You been my volunteer proctologist for years and it takes a special sort of man to volunteer. But you’re not very good at it.

            Toni Morrison calling Bill Clinton “the first black president” was a prop. Thing is that not only could Bill Clinton walk into a room of black people with total ease, Barack Obama still can’t.Report

            • Avatar greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

              “Thing is that not only could Bill Clinton walk into a room of black people with total ease, Barack Obama still can’t.”

              Classy, very classy. Wait classy isn’t the word i’m thinking of. But in the end you are the real victim.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to greginak says:

                Gregniak, the African American unemployment rate is 15% or higher and as an African American yourself, you should be angry at someone else, not me. Time to get real.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Poverty is colour blind. Here’s the time to get real, Tom. The USA doesn’t come apart along colour lines any more. It comes apart along income lines, ZIP codes, that sort of thing.

                Bill Clinton comes from a poor state. Don’t know if you’ve ever been to Arkansas. It’s poor. Plenty of white poverty there, too. Bill Clinton isn’t the only Arkansas politician who can get along with black people: Mike Huckabee can, too. Being a successful politician means you learn to identify with your constituents.

                It’s disgraceful, Tom, that you’d assume because someone’s black that anything is specifically true of them. Toni Morrison’s statement about Bill Clinton is true. When she said it, Clinton was being dragged through the mud over his sex scandal. She said it to imply he was already guilty in the eyes of everyone. Here’s what she had to say about it:

                People misunderstood that phrase. I was deploring the way in which President Clinton was being treated, vis-à-vis the sex scandal that was surrounding him. I said he was being treated like a black on the street, already guilty, already a perp. I have no idea what his real instincts are, in terms of race.Report

              • Avatar Stillwater in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Just one more instance of Tom confirming that our problems remain epistemological. More often than not, Tom just doesn’t know what the fuck he’s talking about.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                For all our Google-enhanced ability to cite and counter-cite, I’m not sure how much any of us knows what we’re talking about. I’m not black. I grew up in Africa, I know what it’s like to be the person everyone’s looking at as the odd man out in a given situation. I come from a long tradition of civil rights, but that doesn’t give me any insight into what being black in America’s really like. Even if I were, what could I say about anyone else’s predicament?

                Barack Obama is as good a reference point for this problem as anyone. He’s not black or white. Or maybe he’s both. This thread began with North observing all the idealism which surrounded the Obama campaign, all those hopes of post-partisanship — we were only kidding ourselves.

                Robert Frost usually gets the credit for the phrase but he probably got it from Hocking. I’ll quote Hocking “He lends himself to the gibe that he is ‘so very liberal, that he cannot bring himself to take his own side in a quarrel.’”

                There are sides in this fight. Obama tried to do what he’d done in Illinois, where the Republicans were the minority but controlled most of the counties, act bipartisan. But that strategy didn’t work out in Washington. The Republicans saw a black man in the Oval Office and just crapped themselves. Of course the GOP behaved badly. They got away with it for a good long while, too.

                Now comes Biden who responds to Romney’s idiotic remarks about “unshackling Wall Street”. So he panders to a black audience. The audience very much approves of the remark. I do wish those who would take umbrage at Biden’s remark — and here’s where it gets interesting, Stillwater, I think this fartitious umbrage is just more crypto-racism — would consider how offensive some of us find Romney’s remarks about Wall Street.

                The GOP knows it got in bed with the racists some while back in the days of Nixon. They didn’t like the racism but they needed the votes, so they held their noses as the Dixiecrats went GOP. Does this mean the GOP is racist? Probably not, but they’re sensitive to the criticism and they ought to be. While the GOP continues carrying on about black and white, as if these were still valid criteria for any sorting-out of America, they will remain vulnerable to this sort of attack.Report

              • Now it’s “crypto”-racist, Blaise? It’s not going to work this time, you know. America’s sick of this crap.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Stillwater says:

                “America’s sick of this crap.”

                Tom van Dyke… Spokesman for REAL America.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Look, Tom, I don’t doubt your sincerity. But this issue is a huge problem for the GOP. I know it’s a pipe dream but I believe humanity has to quit sorting people out into “African-American” and all other racist categories. I’m using racist in its least-pejorative sense: this stupidly tribalistic Sorting Machine we’ve evolved is not working to anyone’s benefit and it has to go.

                America is sick of the GOP’s crap. Since I was a kid, it’s been the Democrats who’ve done everything, EVERYTHING related to tearing out that Sorting Machine. The GOP has done NOTHING. And what did we get from the GOP while we did it? Shrill cries of “Political Correctness! Homos in the military! Homos getting married! Wetbacks on the voter rolls! Welfare Mamas!”

                It’s shameful, in this day and age, that the GOP is still playing the old games of the 1960s. You want it both ways: Biden’s a jackass for saying “unchained” but Romney’s not when he uses “unshackled”. Yes, it is crypto-racism.

                A man is better judged by his list of enemies than by his friends. The GOP has been no friend of the poor, who as it happens are preponderantly more melanin-endowed than the rest of us. All the statistics of Race point to this problem: the prisons, the welfare rolls, the college admissions, SAT scores, the school scores: it’s not race, it’s income which matters. And which candidate is telling us we need to “unshackle Wall Street” so we can have more of same? The great engine of inequality these days is a market increasingly composed of more loan sharks than John Galts and Henry Fords and Steve Jobs-es and Bill Gates-es.

                I’m not ashamed of any of what the Democrats did. Some of what our enemies have called Political Correctness has now passed into common decency. But more has not. The GOP’s got an image problem. It needs to get with the plan and quit blowing the Dog Whistle.Report

              • Avatar Don Zeko in reply to Stillwater says:

                Kazzy,

                Me The People strikes again!Report

              • Blaise, the Dems haven’t won the white vote since 1964. Without race-baiting, it’s all over. Biden was just too obvious about it, is all.

                Without Obama getting 106% of the black vote this time, this election’s a laugher.

                http://jonathantilove.com/bush-black-vote/Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Yeah, yeah. Gotta love that 106%. You and James O’Keefe make quite a pair.Report

              • Fine. The Dems haven’t won the white vote since 1964. Without race-baiting, it’s all over. Biden was just too obvious about it, is all.

                Without Obama getting 90+% of the black vote this time, this election’s a laugher.

                Sophist-proofing every sentence is boring.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                This seems tortured logic to me.

                If the Dems not having won the white vote is proof positive of race-baiting, would not the GOP’s not having won the black vote by proof positive of racism?Report

              • That’s not a logical or substantive rebuttal. Blacks vote Dem b/c of race baiting. [Well, this time because Barack’s running. Bush in 2004 got 11$ of the black vote in Ohio, enough to swing the state. See previous link.]

                Sad but true, Tod. Sad but true, this is what goes on every day in this nation and nobody raises an eyebrow:

                “Today all that has changed. Rep. Charles Rangel, D-N.Y., pointed that out back in 1994 when the Republican-led Congress pushed for tax relief. Rangel denounced Republicans’ plan as a form of modern-day racism, saying, “It’s not ‘spic’ or ‘nigger’ anymore. (Instead,) they say, ‘Let’s cut taxes.’

                http://www.creators.com/opinion/walter-williams/it-s-hard-to-be-a-racist-11-10-12.htmlReport

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Now, we may ask How the Democrats came to lose the White Vote… any ideas about what happened in 1964 and 65? Any significant legislation in these years?

                Why yes, Tom. The Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act. When they passed, LBJ said the Democrats had lost the white vote for a decade. LBJ was wrong. The Democrats lost the white vote for well over a decade.

                Now, proving once again history does repeat itself, first as tragedy, then as farce, we see the GOP once again attempting to duplicate the old Jim Crow techniques in our times. Why is it the GOP, always so horribly concerned about illegal voter registration? When will someone in the GOP finally admit they’re the Party of White People? You’re saying so yourself. That sort of admission is always a refreshing breath of honesty in the spirit of Return to Nixonland.Report

              • Avatar Tod Kelly in reply to Stillwater says:

                “Blacks vote Dem b/c of race baiting. ”

                Two thoughts:

                1. Though there is no doubt that there is some degree of truth to this accusation, it might just be possible that the GOP has something to do with this trend as well.

                2. Despite what most of the people in this thread – not just Tom – might think (greginak being the obvious exception), white guys declaring what black people think and why they do things doesn’t come off looking as nearly smart as you might thinkReport

              • That’s not a rebuttal. The Obama campaign won’t apologize for Biden’s race-baiting.

                Your best defense seems to be that race-baiting doesn’t work—an assertion you can’t prove either, and one that is counterintuitive.

                And the converse of

                white guys declaring what black people think and why they do things doesn’t come off looking as nearly smart as you might think

                is not only tenable, it would be offensive. Of course black people can know how white people think, white guilt, white racism, whathaveyou. Walter Williams knows how the 59% of whites who vote GOP feel about Biden’s race-baiting—they’re sick of this crap.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                The more interesting question, Tom, is why the GOP remains so vulnerable to such “race-baiting”. The Democrats are now hitting the GOP where it truly hurts. If they howl, they’re still the Party of White People. They haven’t done any outreach to black people but more importantly, they have alienated the largest minority group in the USA, the Hispanics.

                A century ago, even fifty years ago, ethnic distinctions among the European immigrant population were far more significant. These distinctions have subsided over time. The Hispanics are now divided along national lines: Cubans aren’t Salvadorans or Mexicans or Guatemalans. But their differences will subside, as surely as the tribal distinctions among the slaves subsided, as the European groups subsided. You’ve said the Democrats haven’t won an election in over four decades with a majority White vote. What happens when the Whites are the minority? That day is coming and soon.

                Why shouldn’t the Democrats talk about shackles? And how did this wretched state of affairs come to pass, that the Party of Abraham Lincoln, the Great Emancipator, can come in for a vicious gibe from the likes of Joe Biden, White Democrat, and get a laugh from a black audience?

                I’ll tell you why. The GOP is fighting a rearguard action. The chickens have come home to roost. All those years of race-baiting going back to the era of Nixon and his Southern Strategy, all those pilgrimages to the Canossas of Bob Jones University. And now, who’s the great standard bearer for the GOP? Mitt Romney, a guy who will throw his trusted gay advisor under the bus on the say-so of some extremely nasty people within his party.

                The GOP has started to lose relevance. It’s about time, too. The GOP never stood up to the bigots in their ranks. Well, now they’ve been allowed to die off, unrepudiated, with their legacies intact. Nixon made something of a comeback, too, after all those years of opprobrium. Reagan, too, that toady and spy for HUAC and McCarthyism. A plaster saint, that one.

                Race-baiting works. It’s worked for the GOP since the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Act were first passed. Turn about, if it’s not fair play, seems entirely justified. It wins elections, as Richard Nixon knew back then.Report

              • That argument doesn’t work, Blaise. They even race-baited Bill Clinton. It’s how they roll.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Stillwater says:

                Heh. Bill Clinton was under investigation every minute of his presidency and still survived. The way the GOP treated Hillary Clinton was contemptible. The sheer spittle-flecked vitriol of the way they went after those two, the unctuous hypocrisy, I gather you think that was Just Okay.

                The Clintons survived to fight another day. Now, please stop whining about how horrible Biden is, talking about Shackles. He got a big laff out of the audience. I’ve put up the link to how Romney was received. There’s plenty of racism in the black community, but Biden sho’ nuff hit their Big Blue Laff Button.

                This race is ugly and it’s going to get a lot uglier. Resist the urge to whine about how the Democrats act these days. We’re about to give Romney the ol’ Lee Atwater treatment and I’m sure you’ll be utterly aghast at the calibre of the armament fired from the Mighty Shit Howitzer of Campaign Politics. Rest easy, young man, you don’t remember the Nixon campaign. I do. It will be — how shall I put it — an Educational Experience.Report

              • ABC NEWS 2008:

                Bill Clinton: Obama Played Race Card On Me

                “I think that they played the race card on me. And we now know, from memos from the campaign and everything that they planned to do it all along,” Bill Clinton said in a telephone interview with WHYY’s Susan Phillips. “I was stating a fact, and it’s still a fact.”

                http://abcnews.go.com/blogs/politics/2008/04/bill-clinton-ob-2/Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “The USA doesn’t come apart along colour lines any more. It comes apart along income lines, ZIP codes, that sort of thing.”

                which are still highly correlated with color lines.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                Yes they are. We can’t say that about prisons, though. There’s a lot of hoo-hah about how prisons are disproportionately loaded up with minorities. Can we attribute this to racism, though? Serious question, for which I have no good answer.

                I have little sympathy for this idea, and we hear it a lot, about how the justice system is inherently racist. I don’t think it is. I believe the poor do go to jail, not because they’re any more guilty, but because they don’t have better representation at trial. Plenty of poor white people go to jail, too.

                Am I just contorting my thinking around some equally-specious paradigm? Black enclaves have formed up in the ‘burbs, relatively wealthy black people have chosen to settle in close proximity to each other. Their kids don’t end up in jail. Here’s where it all starts getting gooey and post-hoc and I’ll be the first to admit I might be just screwed up here.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

                Most of it is the same correlation, but yeah, cops are stopping and frisking and doing other un-constitutional stuff more to people with darker skin color. A wider net catches more fish.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

                The portion of Prince George’s County next to SE DC (Silver-Hill, Suitland) has more crime and concentrated poverty than SE itself does these days.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe in reply to Kolohe says:

                And the places hardest hit by the economic malaise over the last few years has been middle class African American suburbs, squeezed between the outsized effect of housing price collapse in those neighborhoods, and the dramatic cuts to state and local government workforces.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Kolohe says:

                Good points all, Kolohe. I’d rather sort out America by ZIP code and county, not by race. If the two criteria overlap, so be it, it doesn’t matter. But we have to quit playing the Race Game. It’s just not a reasonable measure of anything statistically significant. Mine are better measures because we can do the differential work, allowing for race if that’s where we want to go with the statistics, but looking at the base population, income levels and incarceration stats on those bases.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Real tom? well this was a really sleazy comment “Thing is that not only could Bill Clinton walk into a room of black people with total ease, Barack Obama still can’t.” Changing the subject is a weak ass tactic, and obvious also. Sleazy crap.Report

              • Avatar Tom Van Dyke in reply to greginak says:

                It’s true, though. Barack’s “black” accent sounds almost as bad as Hillary’s.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                You realize not all black people talk the same, right? There isn’t one “black accent”. Actually, there aren’t any black accents. There is AAVE and there are a number of regional accents and dialects and a great deal of regional, generational, and cultural slang. All of which black people employ to varying degrees. Ya know, just like white people.

                This statement is outright racist.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                He’s referring to Obama’s imitation of a stereotypical black accent. Hence the quotes.Report

              • Avatar Brandon Berg in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Affectation, I should say, rather than imitation.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Not so fast. Tom’s both right to observe Obama’s got an affected patter, but every orator has an affected patter. It’s what a linguist observes as liturgical speech.

                Everyone’s voice has three components. There’s the physical aspect: his sinuses, larynx, mouth, and such. He’s had oratory training so he speaks from his chest, as singers do after training. The characteristic Yankee voice is a sinus-inflected patter.

                Second, there’s a phoneme component, the subset of sounds he spoke before adolescence. Obama’s speech contains many bahasa indonesia phonemes and a good solid liturgical Arabic. I’ve heard him utter the adhan the muezzin’s call to prayer, he thinks its one of the most beautiful things in the world, and it is, from a really good muezzin.

                But the preponderance of his speech derives from his time in Hawaii, the most culturally-diverse state in the Union. This third component is the speech he chose for himself. His black speech is all pastor-talk, learned in black churches. We hear the same cadence, that rising third and the modal descent, almost sung.

                Obama has seldom affected street vernacular except in short phrases. He has a keen ear but an utterly Lincoln-esque ability to resort to the high and low phrase as it suits him.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                But the thing is… Obama’s voice doesn’t sound like an authentic or even imitation variation of a “stereotypical black accent” (by which, I assume you are referring to African-American Vernacular English, or AAVE… more here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/African_American_Vernacular_English). I have read that there are elements that are reminiscent of historic black orators (MLK Jr. in particular), but I honestly don’t know enough about the latter’s particular speech patterns to confirm or deny these arguments; if I remember correctly, they describe the rhetorical technique as common amongst black preachers and ministers. To the extent that they are right… I say, so what? Many things inform the way we speak. If Obama looked up to these men (and women?), it would seem logical that he either consciously or subconsciously assumed some of their habits. If it is more calculated than that… if it is part of cultivating a particular image… I’d agree that that is more problematic but is that really any different than what any politician (or any of the rest of us) does? Did Romney speak the same way when he was throwing around “y’all” and talking about grits?

                The problem with Tom’s point is that it seems to be questioning Obama’s “authenticity” as a black man, which itself is demonstrably racist. The argument seems to be that Obama isn’t a REAL black man, that Bill Clinton was “blacker” than he.

                Tom isn’t just talking about Obama’s unique way of speaking. He is speaking about his identity. He is deciding who is and who is not black, who is and who is not authentic, and what is or is not permissible for black people to do. He’s whitesplaining. And it’s abhorrent.Report

              • Avatar Kazzy in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Unfortunately, all attempts to find some of the essays/pieces I read on Obama’s speaking patterns are overwhelmed by reposts of some guy insisting that Obama is really using some super-secret form of hypnosis. I’ll keep digging…Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                As I said, every orator develops his own patter and cadence. It’s no more artificial than learning to write a standard APA paper, which I presume everyone here has learned. Listen to Romney, he’s echoing pastor-speech too. Listen to the opening few paragraphs of this business.

                Watch as his initially cordial reception degenerates as he continues to attack Obama, rather than put forth his own policy. Listen to the cadence of his sentences: he’s completely oblivious to his audience. He still thinks he’s addressing the faithful. Now I haven’t listened to LDS sermonising but this is what my father used to call Heavy Preaching, a voice of remonstrance, “The World says this but the Bible says that. Come ye apart and be ye a separate people.” Romney was just substituting Obama for the World and himself for the Bible in that sermon, and make no mistake, it was a sermon and he completely flubbed it.

                Romney needed to preach what my old man used to call a Pull Sermon: “Comfort ye, comfort ye my people saith your God, speak kindly to Jerusalem and call out to her, that her warfare has ended.”

                Romney’s not a bigot. He’s just got a tin ear. Call it affectation, call it homiletics, call it forensics, Romney ought to have inflected his schoolmarming into some measure of rapprochement with his audience and stuck with a Pull Sermon.Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to greginak says:

                greinak:

                Sorry Greg, Chris Rock said it best when he said black folks ignore Barry’s white part. Clearly they aren’t at ease with him and I’m sure he knows it.

                http://www.theblaze.com/stories/chris-rock-we-ignore-the-presidents-whiteness-but-its-there/Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott says:

                Chris Rock is just another transgressive comic, trying to shock a laugh out of people. If Chris Rock is your measure of what Black Folx are Thinkin’, maybe you need to do some self-examination and consider that most White Folx ancestors haven’t been in this country as long as Da Black Folx.Report

  7. Avatar Kolohe says:

    I happen to be in the middle of reading Nixonland, and it is great. Though what really made the 60’s culture war click, what got the muddled middle that just a few years earlier was able to get behind the series of civil rights legislation, was a serious no kdding spike in crime and the pictures on the teevee of riots in cities north south east & west and everywhere in between. None of which of course pertains now, so the resonance of the appeal is far far lower.Report

  8. Avatar Kazzy says:

    A question about Romney’s ad regarding Work for Welfare…

    Let’s assume it was 100% accurate. It seems to make the claim that Romney’s plan is to move people off the welfare roles and into the the work force. GREAT! I can get behind that 100%! No, 110%! But… I have a question… how exactly is he going to get folks receiving welfare, who I would venture to guess are, on the whole, less employable than most other sub-groups of the population, into the work force when we are still dealing with high unemployment? I mean, it’s not IMPOSSIBLE but it’d be good if there was at least one detail of the plan mentioned in the ad.Report

    • Avatar BobbyC in reply to Kazzy says:

      They will build pipelines for all the oil and gas that we will drill under Romney (in preparation for a two front war with Russia and China, which will certainly cure our unemployment, but in a bad way).Report

    • Avatar Morat20 in reply to Kazzy says:

      High unemployment is because workers are lazy, not because there are not jobs.

      This is the basic core belief of the GOP.

      If you don’t work, it’s because you don’t want too or you’re too “picky” about your jobs.Report

  9. Avatar MikeSchilling says:

    They will build pipelines for all the oil and gas that we will drill under Romney

    I thought the market was going to solve that flatulence problem.Report

  10. Avatar Tyro says:

    Here’s the thing you’re missing: these sorts of ads by the Republicans would have been run against any Democratic candidate and are typical fare for Republican campaigns. The difference is that the Obama campaign is taking a “nuke them from orbit” approach when it comes to retaliation. And responding fast and hard is, generally, considered unfair by most of the commentariat.

    I find a lot of people gravitate towards the Democratic party not because they necessarily agree with all of their policy ideas but because they have a vague notion that the Democrats are the “nicer” ones, and they get somewhat agitated when it turns out that the Democrats prioritize winning over a cultural association with niceness.Report

    • Avatar NewDealer in reply to Tyro says:

      I think that a lot of people are scared by the social conservatism of the Republican Party. There is no more room for people like Jacob Javits or Lincoln Chaffee in the Republican Party. And that is quite a sad commentary on the Party of Lincoln (Abraham, not Chaffee)Report

      • Avatar Jesse Ewiak in reply to NewDealer says:

        As a complete side note, the GOP should be banned from calling themselves the Party of Lincoln until Mitt Romney or another GOP Presidential candidate utters the line, “Abraham Lincoln was one of our greatest President,” in South Carolina during primary season. 🙂Report

        • Jesse, the Dem Party switched their race-baiting tactics from Thurmond to Sharpton, is all, whiteside to blackside.

          And Strom Thurmond was the only Dixiecrat senator to switch parties, you know.

          Well, actually you don’t, but now you do so there’s no excuse for us to go further down this particular road of ignorance. Al Gore’s father filibustered the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Stayed a Democrat in good standing to the day he died, as did Robert Byrd. You could look it up.

          Trent Lott. Poor SOB. Said something stupid at a banquet for an old man.

          There is not one person who has commented @ LoOG [exc for the completely boring ones] who hasn’t written something that would come back and bite them in their political balls.

          Except the ones trolling for jobs at DKos or HuffPo. But that won’t even pay your cable bill, word up.Report

  11. Avatar Kolohe says:

    “Mr. President, now, if we were to visit Chicago, where you recommend, if I wanted to eat some really good soul food?”

    Report

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