Why Newt Gingrich naming Barack Obama “the food stamp president” ever generated controversy is more than a little perplexing — and how race was ever brought into the issue is even more perplexing. As Gingrich has repeatedly pointed out, the food stamp rolls have dramatically increased under Obama’s tenure as president.
Strictly speaking, the term “food stamp president” doesn’t include a value judgment. A person could apply the label to the president without automatically meaning it is a negative fact that food stamp enrollment has increased under Obama’s watch. Increased enrollment could actually be an argument that the food stamp program is effective, that it’s flexible and responsive enough to meet the increased needs of out-of-work new enrollees during a down economy. In fact, The Nation’s Lizzy Ratner makes that argument here. If that’s true, then why wouldn’t Obama and other liberals embrace the moniker “food stamp president” as a compliment of sorts?
It’s for the Obama administration to make the case that that is true — not to reject the label as somehow slanderous when it’s not. But, as Ratner herself says, the Obama administration has, for some reason, been “unwilling or unable” to champion the food stamp program as an effective antidote to recession. (Perhaps because it’s not?)
Because, no matter how hard they try, they can’t make an airtight case that the food stamp program is working properly or that the increase in food stamp usage is a positive, various liberals — including Ratner, Rep. James Clyburn and the Rev. Al Sharpton — resort to crying “racism!”
In what has become a repeat role for him, Rep. Allen West this morning set the record straight on what is and is not racism, calling out the cowardice of those who would spin the truth for the sake of advancing a race-based narrative:
“What is really appalling and disgusting and despicable is that you have people such as, unfortunately, my colleague, Mr. Clyburn, and the charlatan Al Sharpton who all of a sudden now want to create a schism and try to hide away from the fact that the unemployment rate in the African-American community is 15.8 percent,” the freshman congressman said in an interview Monday on The Washington Times-affiliated “America’s Morning News” radio program.
“This has nothing to do with race,” Mr. West said. “This is about them trying to spin it. But this president is failing all Americans.”
“There is no ‘race code.’ It’s a fact. Since President Obama has been in the Oval Office, you’ve seen a 41 percent increase in food-stamp recipients in the United States of America. We have a president that is making more Americans victims than victors,” he said.
Right on, Mr. West.
(For more, here’s a long-ago response from me to the first stirrings of the illogical suggestion that food stamp reformers are somehow motivated by racism.)