Tuesday, August 5, 2008

Worth Amplifying: About Those Dogwhistles

Amid the accusations and counter-accusations and counter-counter-accusations about dogwhistles, Henry Farrell nails it:

[T]he broader point is that Douthat (and David Brooks, and other ‘nice’ conservatives) are in denial. They’ve tied their fortunes to a party whose electoral success partly depends on getting the xenophobic, racist, homophobe and religious fanatic vote out. The McCain campaign needs to get these people to the polling booths, while simultaneously not alienating moderates too much, if it is to have any chance at all of winning the election. And I don’t think it’s news to anyone that the McCain people want to win the election. Hence, the optimal strategy is dogwhistle messaging of exactly the kind we’ve been seeing. I’m pretty sure that Douthat himself isn’t xenophobic, racist, homophobic or religiously fanatical. But he, and others like him, either need to make their peace with the fact that they are in bed with the crazies (and that this is likely to be the case for the forseeable future), or get out. There isn’t any middle ground, and the denialism is wearing very, very thin.
The dogwhistles are not intended for everyone who will foreseeably vote for McCain. Nor would they appeal to everyone intending to vote for McCain: plenty of people support McCain or oppose Obama for reasons that are not, in any sense, "xenophobic, racist, homophobic, or religiously fanatical." But it remains the case that McCain cannot possibly win the White House without sounding dogwhistles to attract such voters, and he cannot possibly be unaware of this fact.

It's chess, not checkers.

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