The New Face of Prejudice: A focus group turns into a smear campaign

Posted by on Oct 08, 2013 at 8:38 am

“If you want to understand why the government is shut down or why elected Republicans would even consider doing something as reckless as using a debt default to extract policy concessions from the White House–without necessarily even knowing which policy concessions they want–Stan Greenberg has a memo for you,” writes Francis Wilkinson, a Bloomberg View editorial board member.

Of course if you begin with the supposition that Republicans are “reckless” and ignore the fact that debt-ceiling brinksmanship is nothing new, what you want is probably to have your prejudices reinforced, not to understand. And Greenberg does deliver. His organization, Democracy Corps, “issued a report this week on six focus groups conducted with Republican subgroups–two each with Tea Partiers, evangelicals and moderate Republicans.”

According to Wilkinson, “the results somehow manage to be unsurprising and shocking at the same time.” We’d say they manage to be utterly banal and unsurprising. The utterly banal part is that Republicans turn out not to care for Barack Obama–who is, after all, a Democrat and a highly partisan one at that.

The unsurprising part–the part Wilkinson finds “shocking”–is that some of them, specifically the Tea Party and evangelical Republicans, speak in rather harsh terms about the president. If Wilkinson actually finds this shocking, he must be about 17 years old, which is to say too young to remember how liberals (including elite ones in academia, arts, entertainment and journalism) spoke contemporaneously of President Bush.

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