Whither the GOP?

It will be interesting to observe how the GOP responds to the 2008 election. This is from Marc Ambinder at the Atlantic:

Recrminations [sic] Watch: Boehner Asks To Keep His Job
Here are excerpts from a letter that House Minority Leaser [sic] John Boehner has written to his (fewer) colleagues:

The 2008 election turned out to be every bit as tough for Republicans as we thought it could be.   The American people have spoken.  We respect their choice.

Some of our opponents aren’t likely to settle for that.  They want us to surrender.  They want to see us raise the white flag and concede that our principles of freedom, responsibility, and limited government no longer speak to the hopes and dreams of American families.  They want us to stand aside for the next two years, abandon our principles, and give the new administration and the Democratic leaders of Congress a free pass.

            It ain’t gonna happen.  It must not happen. 

America remains a center-right country.  Democrats should not make the mistake of viewing Tuesday’s results as a repudiation of conservatism or a validation of big government.  Neither should we.  Instead of throwing in the towel, as our opponents demand, we must redouble our efforts to develop forward-looking solutions to the challenges Americans face – solutions rooted in the enduring principles of reform that define us as a party.  We need to focus on winning the issues, one by one, and presenting principled, superior alternatives that reflect the center-right priorities of the American people, rather than the self-serving priorities of Washington. [more]

[later:] Oh, now I get it. “America remains a center-right country” is a new talking point.

Dog Whistle Politics

I have wondering about Bush’s comment about Iraq being ‘just a comma‘ and suspected that it was more code for his base. Today I saw this from Ian Welsh referenced at kottke.org.

[T]his is another case where Bush is using code words to speak directly to his Christian right base.

The phrase is: “Never put a period where God has put a comma.” Which is to say – it ain’t over yet, and God may well make it better. So Iraq’s bad, but if we trust in God, he’ll make it better. (…)

The other name for this is dog whistle politics. When you blow a dog whistle humans can’t hear it, but the dogs sure can. It’s a pitch higher than humans can hear. When you speak in code like this, most of the time the only people who hear and understand what you just said are the intended group, who have an understanding of the world and a use of words that is not shared by the majority of the population. So it allows you to send out two messages at once – one pitched for the majority of Americans, the other pitched for a subgroup. This goes on all the time, and usually it isn’t caught – most people don’t hear it, and the media is made up of people who can’t make the connections because they don’t belong to these subgroups. So they can’t point out the subtext either. [more at The Agonist]

It is time for an anthropological lexicon of these various terms. A ‘map’, if you will, of what is being referred to in these conversations, so we all can hear the message. Not just for the Christian right, but the Left and the in-between. Just like police and community activists can read gang sign and tags (well, some of them can), we need to be able to read the political topography. There’s too many secrets that people use against each other.

Any social cartographers out there? Or has this already been done and I just don’t know about it? Anyone?