Haley Barbour's Southern Strategy

Please tell me again how Haley Barbour isn't pursuing a Southern Strategy:

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour(R) said states should also be free, for instance, to compel Medicaid patients to pay for part of their medicine, saying, "We have people pull up at the pharmacy window in a BMW and say they can't afford their co-payment."

I'm sure you don't need

to know this

, but it might be useful nonetheless:

The narrative (or storytelling) script for the welfare queen has two central features. First, it tells us that the majority of welfare recipients are women. Of course, the data show otherwise. The largest single group “on welfare” is children—about one in every four kids under the age of 18 receives welfare benefits. Nonetheless, given this script, most of the public connects welfare to gender. For instance, the “feminization of poverty” is a common explanation of American poverty rates.

This script then leads people to the next step in this association, what could be called a “gender narrative”—poor women choose to be on welfare because they fail to adhere to a set of core American values. From this perspective, single motherhood, divorce, desertion and a failure to hold the family unit together become the causes of their impoverished condition. In short, welfare dependency is a function of the moral failings of poor women. Their unwillingness to adhere to the principles of hard work, family values and sexual control thus deem them as undeserving.

The second key image that emerges from the welfare queen script is that most women on welfare are African-American. While African-American women do represent more than one-third of the women on welfare, in census data released in 1998 they accounted for only a bit more than 10 percent of the total number of welfare recipients.

This narrative script—skillfully locating the “intersection” of race and gender—was given its most public voice by then-candidate Reagan on the 1976 campaign trail. During that election Reagan often recited the story of a woman from Chicago’s South Side who was arrested for welfare fraud. “She has 80 names, 30 addresses, 12 Social Security cards and is collecting veteran’s benefits on four non-existing deceased husbands. And she is collecting Social Security on her cards. She’s got Medicaid, getting food stamps, and she is collecting welfare under each of her names.” David Zucchino, a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter, spent a year with two welfare mothers in Philadelphia and wrote “The Myth of the Welfare Queen.” According to Zucchino, “[T]he image of the big-spending, lavish-living, Cadillac-driving welfare queen was by then thoroughly embedded in American folklore.”

The implicit racial coding is readily apparent. The woman Reagan was talking about was African-American. Veiled references to African-American women, and African-Americans in general, were equally transparent. In other words, while poor women of all races get blamed for their impoverished condition, African-American women commit the most egregious violations of American values. This story line taps into stereotypes about both women (uncontrolled sexuality) and African-Americans (laziness).

He didn't feminize it this time, but I have a feeling that's already baked in the cake and he doesn't need to.

Hullabaloo / By Digby | Sourced from

Posted at March 2, 2011, 10:14am

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