News & Politics

Paul Ryan Absurdly Claims Obvious Racial Language Had 'Nothing to do with Race'

Does anyone believe the b.s. he's peddling about poverty?

Photo Credit: Christopher Halloran/

Rep. Paul Ryan wins this week's award for least convincing denial of racist dog-whistling. Asked about his argument that "in our inner cities" there are "generations of men not even thinking about working or learning to value the culture of work," Ryan predictably insisted he hadn't been talking about race:

"This has nothing to do whatsoever with race. It never even occurred to me. This has nothing to do with race whatsoever."

Oh, well, since he said it three times, how can we not believe him? On the other hand, if Ryan has managed to get to this point in life and not know that when you talk about men in the inner cities lacking a culture of work, you're blowing hard on the black people dog whistle, his reputation as the intelligent, intellectual Republican has even less basis than I'd previously thought. Seriously, if it "never even occurred" to him that his comments had a strong racial subtext, he might want to be checked out by doctors, because something is wrong with him. However, since we're talking about a notorious liar here, a liar who only last week was caught passing off a story from a book as one he'd gotten from the source, while spinning it to exactly the opposite conclusion its author intended, color me less than convinced by the flat denial part of Ryan's insistence that he wasn't trying to make sure a conservative talk radio audience heard loud and clear that he was going to go after black people. But he continued:

"This isn’t a race based comment it’s a breakdown of families, it’s rural poverty in rural areas, and talking about where poverty exists—there are no jobs and we have a breakdown of the family. This has nothing to do with race."

Uh huh. Funny how, as soon as Ryan mentions rural poverty, the idea that there are no jobs comes in right away. But when he's talking about inner city poverty, it's all about the lack of a culture of work. Even when the man is trying to deny racial overtones, they slip in.

This is the backtracking of a Republican who knows he's been just a liiiittle more blatant in his racial pandering than he'd intended and is trying to stuff the genie of his real message back into the bottle of right-wing talk radio, out of the notice of the general public. But we know what you said, Paul. And worse, we got your meaning the first time.

Laura Clawson is the Labor editor at Daily Kos Labor, and a contributing editor at Daily Kos.


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