« The downside of the "lie" label | Main | John Edwards, health care scrooge »

November 11, 2007


Brooks may be right saying that it is wrong (or, as you say, exaggerated) to conclude that Regan was attempting to send a message to white voters regarding civil rights (or state’s rights) in that speech.

He does show that the speech apparently wasn’t planned in advance (to convey some special message) but mainly he just points out that Regan was courting black voters so it was unlikely he would have tried to send such a message.

I'm not passing judgment one way or he other, but it seems to be an issue that no one can really know for certain, Brooks included.


I do admire how Brooks takes the matter and uses it as a cudgel. He calls it a “slur” and a “distortion concocted for partisan reasons: to flatter the prejudices of one side, to demonize the other”.

We later see what “side” he’s talking about as the story is being spread by “an increasing number of left-wing commentators”. And it’s not just a story, it’s “one of the most heinous charges imaginable”.

Isn’t Brooks doing pretty much the same thing he’s criticizing - ascribing motives and demonizing?

I think it's more in line with your post criticizing unproven claims of dishonesty. When in doubt, it's best to side on caution. It should be said, however, Strom Thurmond, who used the 'code word", was at the event as well. Whether is was prudent for Reagan to use that phrase is another story.

What I thought was interesting was Brooks doesn't touch the substance of the claim that Reagan was a states rights champion (though there are so many Reagan fanboys out there, it's not unusual). Republicans famously promise to cede financial power to the states, but only to push a social issue they agree with, such as privatizing schools.

One good example of how Reagan really didn't believe in states rights was passing the National Minimum Drinking Age Act, where states were blackmailed into raising their drinking age to 21 years of age or lose federal highway funding.

David Brooks is never right. He is not even trying to be right. He's a propagandist, pushing a party line in his unspeakably bad prose and snobbish manner.

There is more than one type of 'dog whistle' messaging - there's racist, there's religious, and then there's David Brooks. He specializes in extremely bad (when not flat out lying), allegedly liberal, superficially sociological analyses which always shore right-wing causes.

In Brendan's case, this still applies:

If one concedes the fact that Reagan had a nasty habit of race-baiting, then how has the anecdote of him dropping "states' rights" in Philadelphia -- typically cited as an example of this very unseemly behavior -- "exaggerated"?

David Brooks is the lying sack who accused critics of the Admininstration of being anti-Semites, then claimed it was all a joke.

It's not surprising Nyhan is kissing Brooks' ass. No wonder Duke is such a laughing stock.

To answer your question, the answer is no, they can't both be right.

Brooks is trying to use nuance and rationalizations while agreeing with the facts as set forth by Krugman.

Krugman says that the facts are part of a well estiablished pattern of behavior. Brooks implies that the facts are not part of a pattern but never really comes out and says it. This is because if he did it could be easily refuted. By stopping short of saying that Reagan never played the race card Brooks allows the fair and balanced media to turn this into a he said/she said dispute.

I wrote about this at length at my blog on Saturday. Sorry for being a blogwhore, but it's essential to understand that the phrase "states rights" meant only one thing in the 60's and 70's: Segregation. It was not about taxation, nor about education. It was about race.

Oh, I spelled President Reagan's name incorrectly. No disrespect for the late actor/statesman was intended.

I note that Drum appears to be (tentatively) convinced by Crespino,

"a history professor at Emory University, who provides the smoking gun:

'Reagan's states rights line was prepared beforehand and reporters covering the event could not recall him using the term before the Neshoba County appearance.'"


I am old enough (47) to know what "states rights" means. I think that Brooks is totally wrong. To say those words in that place is to imply exactly what Krugman alleged.


How can you wonder whether Reagan was trying to send a message about states' rights when he said "I believe in states' rights" ? Or are you wondering if he wanted Whites or Blacks (or Asians or Native Americans) to get the message ?

I'll give you a hint. You don't get the votes on non Whites (or the oversigned White guy) by saying "I believe in states' rights."

An authoritative cite with the "I believe in states' rights" in quotation marks is here

bbbustard also quotes Reagan as saying that.

Why exaggerated? All the White Citizens' Councils ever wanted was "States rights" to oppress blacks. Saying that in Neshoba County could be nothing else than an appeal to such racist elements. This was clearly part of the Republcan strategy in the South then and now. And if you don't believe me, read Bob Herbert's column of today, Nov. 13, 2007.

When you say that Brooks is right that Reagan's words were exaggerated AND THEN ALL YOU DO IS LINK TO BROOKS, you have not made an argument. All you've said is, "Brooks said it and I agree."

This is an absurd example of trying to be so open-minded that the hard work of thought and analysis has been avoided.

The comments to this entry are closed.