Maddow's Kneejerk Response to Romney's Welfare Reform Ad: It Is 'Dog-Whistle Racism'

For more than a decade, liberals have insisted on the presumption of innocence for all manner of poor, misunderstood jihadists intent on slaughtering as many infidels as possible.

But when it comes to alleged racism from conservatives, the burden of proof quickly turns lenient. All it takes is a left winger claiming it so, a perverse dynamic long predating the war on terror. (video after page break)

Few in media better personify this shabbiness than MSNBC resident schoolsmarm Rachel Maddow, as seen on her show this past Tuesday --

The big new Romney campaign push to say welfare six times in the same ad about President Obama, purporting to be outraged about a policy that Republican governors requested, that Mitt Romney himself requested, is at one level just another example of faking being outraged about something that does not outrage you. It is Wheaton College pretending it's outraged by the idea of covering emergency contraception when it already does that voluntarily, right?

But it is also a blunt allusion to the populist, racist politics of white economic racial resentment. And the Romney campaign has to know it, they're not dumb. Which means that, frankly, they are so worried about continued discussion of Mitt Romney's tax returns that they would rather change the subject to just exactly how overtly racist their new ad campaign is instead. That means they're worried.

How dare they change the subject while we're changing the subject from the Obama economy!

Earlier in the segment, Maddow showed this veritable burning cross of a campaign ad in its entirety. Here is its script, all 30 seconds of it --

In 1996 President Clinton and a bipartisan Congress helped end welfare as we know it by requiring work for welfare. But on July 12, President Obama quietly announced a plan to gut welfare reform by dropping work requirements. Under Obama's plan, you wouldn't have to work and wouldn't have to train for a job. They just send you your welfare check. And welfare to work goes back to being plain old welfare. Mitt Romney will restore the work requirement, because it works. (Romney voiceover here -- "I'm Mitt Romney and I approved this message.")

Somewhere the ghost of George Wallace grunts in disdain -- that is a racist ad? Are we talking about the same one?

Maddow never says during the entire segment leading to her cliched claim as to why the ad is so "overtly" racist. Instead, she makes the hilarious assertion that such allegations are "not something that I go looking for" -- when this constitutes the defining attribute of all liberals, the ability to root out racism regardless of whether it actually exists.

The Romney ad is racist because it reminds Maddow so much of previous thought crimes, such as the so-called "Hands" ad run by GOP Sen. Jesse Helms of North Carolina to fend off a challenge from Democrat Harvey Gannt in 1990.

The Helms ad, she points out, "shows a white working man's hands angrily crumpling up a rejection notice while the narrator explains that the white man did not get that job" because it went to a black worker instead. In other words, Helms, who opposed affirmative action, had the gall to run an ad showing exactly how affirmative action works against an opponent who supported it.

Romney's ad is racist to Maddow because it also reminder her of Newt Gingrich describing Obama as the "food stamps president" -- seeing how food stamp use has surged.

Further proof the Romney ad is racist? Maddow cited a GOP local official in Virginia you've never heard of forwarding a racist email -- two years ago. She played a clip of a tea party member you've also never heard from Arkansas telling a racist joke back in June. Maddow added to the pile-on by citing Rick Santorum back in January denying that he said "black people" while criticizing Obama for wanting to broaden dependency on government.

In fairness to Maddow, she did state that the Romney ad sank to the depths by repeating the word "welfare" -- its subject matter -- six times. Would three times have deemed the ad merely racist "code" as opposed to outright racism? Perhaps we should banish the word "welfare" itself in our vigiliant efforts to stamp out thought crime. (Oops, sorry, I keep forgetting how loaded the word "crime" can be).

As if all of this weren't enough for any leftist show trial, Maddow in the next segment turned to MSNBC colleague and woman of color Melissa Harris-Perry, the network's go-to gal for all things racial. (Hmm, why did Maddow turn to her to discuss welfare?)

Before introducing Harris-Perry, Maddow doubled-down on her claim about Romney, this time referring to his ad's "obvious, dog-whistle racism." Harris-Perry's spin on the matter deviated in a delightful way from Maddow's --

MADDOW: Is this Newt Gingrich's food-stamps president redux? Is this President Reagan's welfare queen attack redux? Is this anything new or is this part of a pattern?

HARRIS-PERRY:  Well, don't miss it, there's another part of that pattern and that is, President Bill Clinton's welfare reform, redux. In other words, what I want to be really clear about about how African-American single mothers who are in circumstances of poverty and trying to raise their children in difficult circumstances, that's what we're talking about when we use this kind of welfare queen boogeyman. And certainly, Ronald Reagan and his Republican predecessors, excuse me, the people who came after him, are people who gave us that language, who stoked the fire of it in both local elections like Jesse Helms that you pointed out earlier around affirmative action, but also George Bush's campaign and Willie Horton and all of that, but it is also the tactic that was used by Bill Clinton to move the Democratic Party nationally far enough to the right to win the votes that turned the party in part into, I think, a much less courageous party around questions of race.

And so, you know, earlier you were pointing out the importance of talking about women's reproductive rights and going right at that and saying Democrats are going to be brave about this and make this an issue on which they will run. Well the fact is, Democrats are going to have to eskew (sic) the legacy of Bill Clinton and go right at this question of racial equality.

So much for Toni Morrison's take on Clinton as the first black president. According to Harris-Perry, Clinton was a dog-whistle racist right up there with Reagan and the elder Bush. And I'm pretty sure Harris-Perry meant that Democrats must, uh, "eschew" Clinton's welfare reform legacy. Did I mention she teaches at Tulane?

As was the case in the preceding segment, Maddow, now aided by Harris-Perry, again didn't elaborate on why the Romney ad is so "overtly" racist. Then again, how could they when to do so would involve grasping at straws?

Was it the fact that in the beginning of the ad two women of color are among those standing next to Clinton when he signed the welfare reform law? Was it that all of the actors depicting workers do not appear to be people of color? Then again, had the workers been black or Latino, would the ad suggest they are on welfare and complying with its work requirement provision?

Maddow and Harris-Perry preferred to leave viewers guessing, secure in the knowledge that all it takes is a threadbare allegation of racism from another keenly sensitive liberal, antennae bristling, to provide the proof that's needed.

2012 Presidential Rachel Maddow Show Harvey Gannt Melissa-Harris Perry welfare reform Rachel Maddow Barack Obama Jesse Helms Mitt Romney