Welcome to this week's edition of The Daily Banter Mailbag! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez discuss Sarah Palin's dog-whistle; Romney's alleged perjury charges; and the relevance of Donald Trump.
1) We've seen a lot of race-baiting and dog whistles this campaign cycle. Do you think Sarah Palin's use of the phrase "shuckin' and jivin'" was deliberately in that vein or should we give her the benefit of the doubt?
Ben: In all honesty, I don't think Sarah Palin is culturally aware enough to understand the connotations associated with the saying. There aren't exactly a lot of African Americans in Wasilla so I'm guessing Palin saw the phrase on TV and thought it sounded cool. I don't believe Palin is racist (unlike many other members of her party), I think she's just ignorant and not particularly bright so I'm giving her the benefit of the doubt here.
Chez: How could you, Frederic? How dare you even think for a moment that Palin's "shuckin' and jivin'" comment was anything but an innocent play on words, in no way meant to throw red meat to the racist, xenophobic yokels who worship her like a naughty librarian Jesus and who, when they all get together and know nobody's watching, tell and laugh heartily at jokes that end with the punchline, "Throw 'em a basketball." How could you possibly think that the use of a traditionally derogatory term long associated with black culture would be intended to stoke the already firmly held prejudices of those who detest Barack Obama, who continue to claim he's illegitimate, and who do so largely because he's black and multi-cultural? Shame on you for even going there. YOU'RE obviously the racist. ... No really -- are you fucking kidding? Was Sarah Palin going for the race-bait? Does Willow give blow jobs in the woods?
Bob: Racism isn't always overt and deliberate. Too many white people engage in it as a matter of subconscious or learned behavior. I doubt she understood what she was saying, but something deep in her walnut brain associated "jiving" with black people. Then again, I don't think she writes her Facebook and Twitter posts and, instead, has a staffer handle it. In that case, the staffer posted something in her name and with her approval that might've been deliberately racial.
2) Mitt Romney is now being accused of lying about the value of Staples' stock to help out the founder of the company and screw over the wife who was divorcing him. Do you think this is the kind of October Surprise that can actually hurt Romney or will no one really care at this stage?
Bob: Unless it reaches critical mass in the mainstream press, it'll just be another fringe meme. If his associations with Bain Capital, Todd Akin, Richard Mourdock and a cabal of ex-Bush neocons haven't crashed his presidential odds, then some sort of vague perjury charge will barely make a dent. There's not enough time for something like this to fester.
Ben: Romney lying? Never! I've done some reading about this and I think that from a technical point of view, it's unclear whether Romney undervalued Staple's stock to help his friend out. My guess, given his track record of deceit over the years, is that it's quite likely he did. Romney has lied about literally everything he's done in his life, from how much he is worth (see here), to his views on abortion (Romney was pro choice until he decided to run for President). I spoke with William Cohan of the Washington Post about Romney's money for the follow up piece we did on his hidden fortune (here), and Cohan, who had spent 17 years on Wall St told me that Bain's reputation was extremely sketchy while Romney was there. They were notorious for their dishonesty and greed under Romney's leadership, so I think it highly likely incestuous favors were pretty common.
Chez: When I first heard about this thing I dismissed it almost entirely because it was being presented to the public by Gloria Allred, one of the most loathsome, unscrupulous opportunists the legal profession has ever crapped out into a big steaming pile onto the pop culture landscape. Needless to say, her melodramatic and entirely self-serving claims of perjury against Romney have yet to be proven, but it actually does look like Romney, when he was at Bain, purposely undervalued the stock at Staples in an effort to protect the fortune of Staples founder and fellow master of the universe Tom Stemberg. Documents made public in Massachusetts yesterday show that Romney basically created a special share of stock that was valued at a low price, all to make sure Stemberg's wife couldn't get what she would've been legally entitled to. It's a little complicated and therefore I'm not sure it'll really have much of an impact on most voters; at this stage of the race it would take a sex scandal or finding out that Romney still owned slaves or something -- which is entirely possible -- to really get traction and fuck Romney royally (see what I did there?). Still, if the media pick up on this and run with it at all, it might be a thorn in Romney's side since it a) has the potential to damage him with women, and b) furthers the image of Romney as a soulless corporate baron who believes that he and his kind don't have to play by the rules and can game the system to their benefit whenever they feel like it.
3) Why does anyone still pay any attention to Donald Trump?
Bob: We're suckers for a freak show.
Ben: People pay attention to Donald Trump because he has lots of money, and that's wrongly equated with talent and intelligence in America. I mean, Paris Hilton was once the most famous woman in the country, and the only thing she contributed to society was an assortment of sexually transmitted diseases.
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