Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Because I Ride the Bus

Last night at the end of Hardball on MSNBC, Chris Matthews gave his little editorial indignation on Newt Gingrich's "dog-whistling" in South Carolina. the newt was referring to the President as the "food-stamp President." (I can get away with being critical of Gingrich now because he's going after Romney and everybody in Utah hates him--the newt that is, not Romney). Chris said that Gingrich should be ashamed of himself.

It does seem like it's a bit more than a dog whistle as everybody seems to hear it And a lot of people, particularly Republicans in South Carolina, tend to stand up and applaud (stomping feet and whistling themselves).

The part I found interesting was when Chris was explaining that African-Americans are hard-working people, which I thought a rather obvious point. Then he started in on the experiment in any major city and I said to my wife, "Go to the bus stop," before Chris got it out. I know that because I ride the bus. And I did in Baltimore and DC too. There are a lot of hard-working people in the inner cities, and they often ride the bus.

I rode the bus back when I lived back east because it seemed like the best alternative as a law student and legal intern, not having a parking place and all. (I did share a parking space for a time as I was part of a car-pool from suburban Maryland. We had this cranky French lady who translated at the State Department. But she drove OK when it was her week and I didn't have to be squeezed in the back seat with her.)

It may not be any more complimentary on race relations to note that inner-city African Americans tend to ride the bus to menial jobs even if that is better than assuming they are all on food stamps. There are a lot of professionals, too. In fact there's that guy at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue who has a pretty good job and lives there with his wife and children who are the descendants of slaves, maybe some of the very ones who built that big house.

But I do see Chris's indignant point.

I still ride the bus. I get a subsidized pass because I don't have a parking place at work. I don't really like riding the bus, but I can't pass up the economic benefits. And I'm not out there with my own vehicle further clogging up your highways and poluting our air.

Chris ought to ride that bus once in a while. It might do the newt some good as well. We'll let them both sit up front.

And this from today:

Watch the newt's expression. He seems to be thinking hard, "Is this woman for real? Is this a set-up?' Then when she finally says they support him he flicks that little amphibian tongue back in, smiles and thanks her.

Addendum Part 2, next day:
And TNC explains this much better than I could.

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