Architect of selling GOP as “inclusive” calls Obama a “socialist”

You may have heard that the Republican party has come up with a new 219-point plan to convince Americans that the GOP is more than simply a bunch of hateful old southern white men. So what happens next? One of the hateful southern white guys in charge of coming up with the plan calls President Obama a “socialist” repeatedly, then sticks to his claim and refuses to repudiate it.

Keep in mind that in America generally, and especially in Republican politics, the word “socialist” means “communist.” And the word “communist” means “Soviet.” So, in America, when you call someone a socialist, you’re actually calling them the equivalent of Stalin.

Of course, it’s worse than that. Labeling people communists has a long, sad history in America. A lot of lives were destroyed by Republican Senator Joe McCarthy, who went on an anti-communist witch hunt in the early part of the 1950s.  But since no one wants to be tarred with McCarthyism, they use the word “socialist” instead of “communist,” expressly because they know it offers them plausible deniability (I didn’t call him a communist) while most Americans think they’re the same thing anyway.

So when you call someone a “socialist” in America, all of that baggage comes with it.

And that’s why it’s so offensive that so many Republicans have embraced this new McCarthyism over the past few years.  It’s particularly bad vis-a-vis President Obama, but the cries of “socialist” came out of GOP lips even back in 2004, when then segregationist-fan and Republican Senator Trent Lott called Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry a “socialist” because Kerry spoke French.

In 2008, a lot of McCain supporter were calling President Obama a “socialist.”

But one need not look back that far.  In 2009, GOP party chair Michael Steele accused President Obama of pushing “socialism.”  Steele did it again a few months later when he called health care reform “socialism.”  Then in 2010, there was the secret RNC fundraising plan depicting President Obama, Harry Reid, and Nancy Pelosi as socialists.  As you can see, the RNC has a long proud of McCarthyism.

But the RNC isn’t alone.  In 2009, the banksters also accused President Obama of socialism.  (They were upset that anyone would dare question why an industry that just got saved from bankruptcy should be paying massive bonuses.)

And the GOP party head in Florida accused President Obama of “socialism” because he sat down with a bunch of school kids and talked about the value of hard work.

2009 was also the year Whole Foods CEO John Mackey wrote an article tying health care reform to “socialism.”  He later changed his mind and said that Obamacare was actually “fascism.”  But again, to Americans, it’s all kind of the same thing.

In 2010, Newt Gingrich accused religious leaders who supported health care reform of being socialists.

In 2011, now-Senator Elizabeth Warren was called a “socialist” by a Tea Party heckler.

Then there’s 2012 presidential race and Mitt Romney. Romney suggested that both Israel and California were both socialist, though Romney tended to say it in dog-whistle code that the far right was sure to understand. Romney supporters were also happy to throw the socialism charge against President Obama, though they couldn’t quite explain what it meant.

Florida’s nubile young Senator Marco Rubio, pulled a Romney and insinuated that President Obama was a socialist.  And Marco Rubio would know: His parents didn’t flee Castro’s Cuba.

And even after the election, the Republican base, typified by Bryan Fischer of the American Family Association, labeled all latinos “socialists.”

Then there’s Sarah Palin.  Palin was one of the first to call President Obama a “socialist,” and did it early and often during the 2008 presidential campaign. Being foul-mouthed and uneducated, the charge came easily from her lips.  Palin warned Hannity a few years back that America was on the road to socialism (Hannity should have asked her to spell it.)  She also urged Mitt Romney to call President Obama a socialistPalin pushed the socialist bandwagon again this past November. And then again with Hannity, of course, just this past December.

Of course my favorite was when Fox News insinuated a few years back that Mr. Rogers was teaching kids that they were entitled to things without doing any work.  Smells like socialism to me.

Follow me on Twitter: @aravosis | @americablog | @americabloggay | Facebook | Instagram | Google+ | LinkedIn. John Aravosis is the Executive Editor of AMERICAblog, which he founded in 2004. He has a joint law degree (JD) and masters in Foreign Service from Georgetown; and has worked in the US Senate, World Bank, Children's Defense Fund, the United Nations Development Programme, and as a stringer for the Economist. He is a frequent TV pundit, having appeared on the O'Reilly Factor, Hardball, World News Tonight, Nightline, AM Joy & Reliable Sources, among others. John lives in Washington, DC. .

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15 Responses to “Architect of selling GOP as “inclusive” calls Obama a “socialist””

  1. HolyMoly says:

    Agreed. The religious right is another discussion altogether. I was getting at what I consider to be the mentality or psychological profile of many Republicans in all aspects. The say-one-thing-but-do-another type of approach they take the politics as well as religion, and their failure to see their own hypocrisy. And I honestly think they DON’T see it.

  2. BeccaM says:

    Hundreds of thousands of American socialists of the 19th and early 20th centuries are spinning in their graves at the suggestion that Obama is anything even vaguely resembling a socialist.

  3. Ron Thompson says:

    The polls show that “Socialist” does not carry the stigma among people under retirement age that it retains for the children of the 50s. By calling people who are mushy centrists “socialists”, the right-wing only helps to rehabilitate the socialist brand. If President Obama is defined as a socialist (which is ridiculous, but if. . .), then there’s nothing very scary about socialism

    I just hope Obama doesn’t give Socialism a bad name.

  4. karmanot says:

    Another possibility is the discernment between ‘That’s so gay’ and ‘faggot.’ The latter gets an Irish knuckle sandwich from the likes of me, or well. a whomp with my walking cane.

  5. karmanot says:

    Starting with the point on the top of their heads.

  6. karmanot says:

    don’t forget preacher pedophiles and daddy diddlers!

  7. BeccaM says:

    Every time that word crosses their lips — “Socialist” — there are only one of two possibilities. One is they have no friggin’ clue what it actually means, no accurate knowledge of the history of socialism as a political philosophy, and a complete lack of curiosity or impetus to do something as simple as checking out the Wiki entry. (I have to wonder how many of them have any clue there are as many different ‘flavors’ of socialism as Howard Johnson’s had of ice cream.)

    The second possibility, of course, is they do know better, and don’t care because “socialist!” has become the right-wing equivalent of immature bullies screaming “fa**ot!” at other kids in school — in other words, an almost meaningless, but intentionally hurtful epithet.

    Monoceros would like these mouth-breathing morons to be asked for a definition of socialism every time they yawp it. It’d like to take it a step further and ask them to explain exactly why it’s inherently a bad thing. Socialist philosophy is behind the workless weekend, workplace safety standards, unemployment benefits, minimum wage, gov’t guaranteed pensions and insured bank deposits, anti-pollution laws, state and federal parks, and much more.

  8. I know. There has to be a good joke in there somewhere, listing the points…

  9. Oof, don’t remind me of the right-wing religious nut’s idea of theodicy. One “born again” moment and apparently you’re thenceforward absolved of every sin or something. Isn’t forgiveness supposed to be accompanied by repentance, contrition and atonement? But this is a subject for a quite different discussion.

  10. nicho says:

    The GOP has a big tent. Big enough for psychopaths, sociopaths, racists, homophobes, hate mongers, xenophobes, self-hating homosexuals, wife beaters, child abusers, and assorted nuts. Sane, thinking, logical people need not apply.

  11. HolyMoly says:

    “I’m not perfect…I’m forgiven.” The snotty retort you often hear from those people who use their Christianity as a shield of protection while they consciously commit acts of hatred towards others. It seems the same sort of approach will be applied to the GOP, seeing as how old habits are hard to break.

    After a few weeks of reading stories about how the Republicans are trying to reshape themselves to become more inclusive, I notice more and more that they’re not the least bit interested in changing the things that make them so despised by women, Latinos, gays, Asians, etc. They’re interested in changing those voters’ PERCEPTIONS. It’s trickery, a ruse, a shell game.

    Meanwhile, they’re looking for the perfect modern-day dog whistle that only old white men can hear, but minorities can’t. Good luck with that.

  12. Two hundred and nineteen points? Sheesh. At least Martin Luther was able to keep his list down to ninety-five.

    I rather wish that every reporter interviewing a right-winger would ask for a short definition of socialism every time the term popped up, but asking follow-up questions seems to be a dead art in contemporary journalism.

  13. wmforr says:

    And the Interstate Highway System. That Eisenhower was a real socialist–and probably born in Kenya to boot.

  14. Keith Kunkel says:

    Yeah, that’s why we need to de-fund Social Security.

  15. Randy Riddle says:

    The fascinating thing about the Republican’s “rebranding” plan is that it’s like Nixon’s “Southern Strategy” all over again. Except, this time, they’re going to try to cleanse the wingnuts from the national stage, where their racism and bigotry don’t fly, but still allow the bigoted base to keep on doing that thing they do in local and state races.

    It might have worked in 1970 to a certain extent when media was more regional, but now, every time some corruption scandal erupts in Florida or a state level candidate gets caught with a rent boy or some legislator or governor goes on the record with some kind of racist claptrap, it’s going to stick to the perception of the Republican party as a whole. And good luck finding an Eisenhower or even Bush I type of Republican presidential candidate that will get support in the wing nut, evangelical, KKK racist South.

    Yep, Nixon fucked up Vietnam and left a stain on the Presidency with Watergate, all for short term gain. He did the same thing with his own party. Now they’re hoping culturally liberal Ayn Rand Paul conservatives thirty-something conservatives will be their future. Yeah, good luck with all that.

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