Gingrich Is Not a Racist, Nor Is He Using "Dog-Whistles"

Here is some information on the full history of the “food stamp president” saga, as reported by Politico (hardly a right-wing media organ):

A reporter on the trail notes that Gingrich frequently says in his stump speeches that he would urge people to demand paychecks instead of food stamps — a talking point that it is not usually met with great alarm by the media. He also frequently says that he would go to the NAACP convention if it invited him. On Thursday morning, the two points came together when he said he would go to the NAACP convention and explain “why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.”

Slate’s Dave Weigel tweeted a slightly altered version of Gingrich’s quote at 9:34 a.m., and Talking Points Memo put it up less than 20 minutes later with the headline, “Newt: African Americans Should Get Off Food Stamps; Demand Paychecks.” An hour after that, The Daily Beast ran its story with the headline, “Gingrich to African-Americans: Get Off of Food Stamps.” By the end of the day, the AP was comparing the quote to a remark made by Rick Santorum that the president of the National Urban League criticized as pandering to racist elements in the GOP. (Emphasis mine.)

And while we’re at it, here’s the full transcript of Gingrich’s statement:

The fact is if I become your nominee we will make the key test very simple — food stamps versus paychecks. Obama is the best food stamp president in American history. More people are on food stamps today because of Obama’s policies than ever in history. I would like to be the best paycheck president in American history.

Now there’s no neighborhood I know of in America where if you went around and asked people, would you rather your children had food stamps or paychecks, you wouldn’t end up with a majority saying they’d rather have a paycheck.

And so I’m prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I’ll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps. And I’ll go to them and explain a brand new Social Security opportunity for young people, which would be particularly good for African-American males because they are the group that gets the smallest return on social security because they have the shortest life span. (Again, emphasis mine.)

So let’s summarize, shall we? Gingrich has been saying for ages that Obama is “the food stamp president” — a characterization that, for the most part, is factually true. The number of food stamp recipients and the average individual benefit have both increased markedly during Obama’s term in office. Yes, this is partially because of the recession that Obama “inherited,” but if Obama were actually a competent leader (instead of a cipher), our bounce back would not be so anemic. But anyway, to continue: Gingrich has been criticizing Obama’s food stamp record all along, and he’s done so without mentioning race. Mentioning race, after all, would be silly, as the majority of food stamp recipients are white, a fact of which I’m sure Gingrich is aware.

Gingrich has also repeatedly stated that he would speak to the NAACP if he were invited, which in my opinion shows a laudable willingness to reach out to voter blocks that the GOP has unfortunately written off as “beyond hope.” Gingrich, it appears, feels that the GOP platform is universal and should be preached to everyone. So what does he really mean when he says that he would tell the African-American community at the NAACP convention to demand paychecks instead of food stamps? What he’s saying, essentially, is this: “I believe that everyone should demand gainful employment instead of welfare — and yes, ‘everyone’ includes the African-American community. Why shouldn’t it? In my experience, every American, regardless of race, would prefer a paycheck to the dole.” He’s not saying that only African-Americans receive food stamps, or that African-Americans are disproportionally represented among food stamp recipients. He’s not saying that the African-American community should be singled out for special censure on this issue. He’s saying that African-Americans also stand to benefit from a Republican presidency and consequently need to hear his message.

So who really brought race into this discussion of our welfare system? Left-wing pundits, who evidently lack some very basic comprehension and internet research skills. In typical left-idiot fashion, they are reading penumbras and emanations into Gingrich’s remarks that simply do not exist.

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