Here is one more ridiculously ironic detail to conclude the insane spectre of race baiting that haunted the 2012 GOP Presidential and Congressional campaigns. How many times, and I can count them using all of my fingers and toes twice, have you heard GOP apologists deny that race baiting played any part in the strategy of their politics? "How dare you, sir, accuse me of racism? Why you have soiled the hallowed lily white eschutcheon of my grand daddy who played basket ball with nigras on weekends and he didn't have a racist bone in his body...why sir, some of my best friends....?". I have brought up the tactics of Lee Atwater on many occasions and the origins of his "Southern Strategy" only to have it shouted down vociferously by conservatives who claim he never said "that". And of course, Bill O'Reilly never said that, but he sure is fanning the flames trying to create a post election marshmallow roast bonfire by claiming that now poor old white guys like him are the new "underclass minority" which is facing discrimination.
On many occasions, I have cited an infamous interview with Atwater (which Conservatives have been claiming for years never existed, because they have done everything in their power to make it disappear) in which he explained how the Southern Strategy worked:
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, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
However, a number of conservatives have over the years disputed the veracity of that interview and that quote, or have claimed it wasn't really Atwater. You know, the denial thing.
Now James Carter IV -- the same researcher who dug up Mitt Romney's "47 percent" remarks on video has unearthed the entire 42-minute interview. Rick Perlstein has the entire thing over at The Nation:
In the lead-up to the infamous remarks, it is fascinating to witness the confidence with which Atwater believes himself to be establishing the racial innocence of latter-day Republican campaigning: “My generation,” he insists, “will be the first generation of Southerners that won’t be prejudiced.” He proceeds to develop the argument that by dropping talk about civil rights gains like the Voting Rights Act and sticking to the now-mainstream tropes of fiscal conservatism and national defense, consultants like him were proving “people in the South are just like any people in the history of the world.”
It is only upon Professor Lamis’s gently Socratic follow-ups, and those of a co-interviewer named “Saul” (Carter hasn't been able to confirm his identity, but suspects it was the late White House correspondent Saul Friedman), that Atwater begins to loosen up—prefacing his reflections, with a plainly guilty conscience, “Now, y’all aren't quoting me on this?” (Apparently , this is the reason why Atwater’s name wasn’t published in 1984 but was in 1999, after his death).
He then utters his infamous words. The interlocutors go on to kibitz about Huey Long and barbecue. Then Atwater, apparently satisfied that he'd absolved the Southern Republican Party of racism once and for all, follows up with a prediction based on a study he claims demonstrates that Strom Thurmond won 38 percent of South Carolina’s middle-class black vote in his 1978 Senate campaign (run by Atwater).
“That voter, in my judgment,” he claims, “will be more likely to vote his economic interests than he will anything else. And that is the voter that I think through a fairly slow but very steady process, will go Republican.” Because race no longer matters: “In my judgment Karl Marx [is right]... the real issues ultimately will be the economic issues.” He continues, in words that uncannily echo the “47 percent tape” (nothing new under the wingnut sun), that “statistically, as the number of non-producers in the system moves toward fifty percent,” the conservative coalition cannot but expand. Voila: a new Republican majority. Racism won't have anything to do with it.
So they claim, to this very day.