Rep. Paul Ryan seems to be losing the messaging wars with his constituents back home, after his racist remarks about the "inner-city culture" being responsible for poverty and subsequent backtracking on those remarks.
If you could pinpoint the moment when Paul Ryan lost control of his message on Wednesday, it was when he began explaining to an African American constituent why his recent comments about lazy “inner city” men actually had nothing to do with race.
“You said what you meant,” Alfonso Gardner, a 61-year-old African American man from Racine, told Ryan at a town hall meeting. “[Inner city is] a code word for black.”
Ryan remained defiant though. “There is nothing whatsoever about race in my comments at all,” he said. He admonished Gardner for drawing a connection between his “inner city” remarks and race. “I think when we throw these charges around, it should be based on something.”
ThinkProgress spoke with Gardner after the town hall to get his reaction. He said Ryan’s trying to have it both ways, saying different things to different people. “He’s out here shucking and jiving,” Gardner said. “He’s been in Congress eight terms and just now talking about poverty?”
He and his fellow Republicans finally decided that they need to at least try to appear to be concerned about the issue now that it's made its way into so much of our public debate, but that's not going to change their policies. And from the looks of the town hall above, I'd say you'd better keep Paul Ryan away from anyone who is going to challenge his remarks while the cameras are rolling, because his response was pathetic.
I think most people have figured out that all of the Republicans and way too many of their Democratic counterparts care about exactly one thing, and that's the interest of the one percent that pay to get them elected.
And as Digby rightfully noted, whether Ryan was lying or deluded when he responded to his constituent in the video above, either way, he made an ass of himself -- and it's time to quit pretending that everyone and their grandmother didn't know exactly what dog whistle he was blowing when he made his remarks.
It's just ludicrous to deny that these are code words. Everyone knows it, even foreigners. In a former life I used to sell movies in overseas markets and the company I worked for distributed quite a few films written and directed by African Americans. And it was common for foreign distributors to slyly inform us that they had no audience for "urban" and "inner city" films. Those were the terms they used. And when informed that the films didn't necessarily take place in a city they would shrug and say, "you know what I mean." Everybody knows what Paul Ryan was saying --- Republicans have been harping on this for 40 years.
This disgusting racist nonsense about lazy black men goes waaay back: