By Patrick Martin in the USA:
Infighting in South Carolina presidential primary
21 January 2012
The campaign for the Republican presidential nomination reached a new low in this week’s campaigning in South Carolina. Rival right-wing candidates appealed to racism, anti-immigrant prejudice and religious bigotry in an increasingly vicious contest in the state, with the polls opening at 7 a.m. Saturday.
Only four candidates remain in the race with the withdrawal of former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman on Monday and Texas governor Rick Perry on Thursday. Huntsman endorsed former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney, seen as the frontrunner nationally, while Perry endorsed former House speaker Newt Gingrich, who now holds a narrow lead in the polls of likely voters in South Carolina.
This week’s campaigning revolved around two debates, Monday night in Myrtle Beach with the four candidates plus Perry, who had not yet quit the race, and Thursday night in Charleston, with the field reduced to four.
The turning point in the South Carolina primary may turn out to have been the debate Thursday, when the first question put to the four candidates went to Gingrich. CNN host John King asked him about the impending ABC News broadcast of an interview with his second wife, Marianne, in which she denounced him for his marital infidelity in the 1990s.
Gingrich responded with a denunciation of both ABC for its broadcast and King for his question, which prompted a standing ovation from the audience.
There is vast irony in Gingrich’s purported outrage, as he declared, “I think the destructive, vicious, negative nature of much of the news media makes it harder to govern this country, harder to attract decent people to run for public office.” It was Gingrich who pioneered what came to be known as the “politics of personal destruction,” particularly in his role in spearheading the impeachment of President Bill Clinton in 1998-99.
As ABC News pointed out in its broadcast Thursday night, Gingrich was having an affair with a congressional aide, now his third wife, Callista, at the very point that he was declaring that Clinton had “less moral authority than any administration in history” after the exposure of Clinton’s affair with Monica Lewinsky.
There was, however, no discussion of the Clinton impeachment in either the Republican debates or the media coverage of the campaign. Gingrich’s personal conduct in the 1990s was raked up only to provide lurid television footage and headlines, while the critical political background—the right-wing effort to oust a twice-elected president through a sex scandal—was ignored.
Once again, sensationalized coverage of marital infidelity served to obscure the real political issues, both historical and contemporary. The result—a further degrading of the already abysmal level of political discussion in the corporate-controlled media and the election campaigns of the two big business parties.
While the media was devoting hours of coverage to Gingrich’s conduct towards his three wives, there was relatively little attention paid to the increasingly frenzied shift to the right by all the Republican candidates.
Gingrich openly appealed to racial bigotry during the first debate. Fox News panelist Juan Williams, who is black, asked about his repeated declarations that African-Americans should seek jobs instead of being satisfied with food stamps and his calling Obama a “food-stamp president.”
Gingrich clearly welcomed the criticism and received a standing ovation from the audience when he denounced “political correctness” and declared, “I’m going to continue to find ways to help poor people learn how to get a job”—as though mass unemployment were not an inescapable reality imposed by the capitalist system on millions of working people, black, white and Hispanic.
In campaign appearances and press statements in South Carolina, Gingrich also avowed that on his first day as president he would issue an executive order to defy Supreme Court rulings providing legal rights to prisoners at Guantanamo and other US facilities who were seized by the US military and the CIA overseas.
Gingrich Surges With Old, Familiar Ploy: Racist Attacks on Poor People: here.
Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney released his tax returns Tuesday morning, revealing that he collected income of $21.7 million in 2010 and $20.9 million in 2011, nearly $42.6 million over the two-year period. Not a penny of this income was from salary or wages reported on a W-2. Nearly all of it was investment income, including capital gains, dividends and interest: here.
Who Is the GOP Nominee Going to Be – the Adulterer, the Flip Flopper, the Radical, or the Homophobe? Here.
Why Evangelicals Don’t Care When Rich White Conservatives Defile Marriage: here.
Santorum Excommunicates 45 Million Christians: Mainline Protestants Are ‘Gone From The World Of Christianity’: here.
Kim Severson, The New York Times News Service: “Fed by antagonism toward President Obama, resentment toward changing racial demographics and the economic rift between rich and poor, the number of so-called hate groups and antigovernment organizations in the nation has continued to grow, according to a report released Wednesday by the Southern Poverty Law Center. The center, which has kept track of such groups for 30 years, recorded 1,018 hate groups operating last year”: here.