Racism or Good Ole’ Boy Fun?
Perlstein's Greatest Hits: FNB Politics
August 3rd, 2008 - 11:56pm ET
You'll have to journey below the fold to read this, as I had to use some rough language to make my point. I've tracked down a full text of my March, 2007 TNR.com essay "Unconscious of a Conservative" below, in which, seventeen months ago, I predicted how the Republican presidential campaign would go down. Turns out the only thing I didn't predict was the Paris Hilton reference.
Faggot. Nigger. Bitch. Please excuse the blunt language. From here forward, to avoid the ugly words, I’ll refer to it as “FNB politics.” With little to show the electorate in 2008—after six years of uninterrupted control—besides sub-standard care from a privatized workforce at Walter Reed Hospital, thrice-married “family values” presidential candidates, and a boom in home foreclosures, the conservative base’s 2008 strategy has begun to emerge: Weaken the major Democratic opponents by making their image unpalatable to the public.
Ann Coulter might have been the one to use the precise word aloud. But the effort to discredit John Edwards as not really a man began soon after he came to national prominence as John Kerry’s running mate. And the endeavor fits into a running conservative pattern—one Ann Coulter’s most important patron, Roger Ailes of Fox News, knows perfectly well. In The Selling of the President, Joe McGinniss relates an episode where Richard Nixon’s set dressers had the candidate in front of a turquoise curtain. Ailes, Nixon’s detail-obsessed TV guru, had a conniption. “Nixon wouldn’t look right unless he was carrying a pocketbook,” he grumbled, ordering the curtains replaced by wood panels with “clean, solid, masculine lines.”