Oh please – spare me the “outrage”:
House Minority Whip Jim Clyburn (D-S.C.) told me he thinks S.C. Gov. Mark Sanford’s quip comparing President Obama’s stimulus package to Zimbabwe’s economic policies are “beyond the pale” — and suggested they might carry a racial subtext.
“For him to compare the president of this country to Mugabe. … It’s just beyond the pale,” said Clyburn, who has sparred with Sanford over the Republican’s refusal to accept all the state’s stimulus funding.
Asked if his “beyond the pale” comment implied a racial overtone to Sanford’s remarks, Clyburn replied:
“I’m sure he would not say that, but how did he get to Zimbabwe? What took the man to Zimbabwe? Someone should ask him if that’s really the best comparison. … How can he compare this country’s situation to Zimbabwe?”
Sanford didn’t explicitly mention Mugabe -— among the most despotic and incompetent leader in Africa — when speaking with reporters in the Palmetto State on Wednesday. But he likened the stimulus, pushed by Obama administration and congressional Democrats, to the disastrous hyper-inflationary policies of Mugabe’s regime.
“What you’re doing is buying into the notion that if we just print some more money that we don’t have, send it to different states — we’ll create jobs,” Sanford said. “If that’s the case, why isn’t Zimbabwe a rich place?… Why isn’t Zimbabwe just an incredibly prosperous place. ‘Cause they’re printing money they don’t have and sending it around to their different — I don’t know the towns in Zimbabwe but that same logic is being applied there with little effect.”
UPDATE: “Rep. Clyburn always plays the race card,” shot back Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer, who said his boss has also compared the stimulus to failed government policies in Germany and Argentina. “This policy will result in hyper-infaltion. … [Clyburn] is ripping off the people he purports to represent.”
Just a few weeks ago Clyburn accused Sanford and other Southern GOP governors of racism for considering not taking the stimulus money.
Jason Zengerle at the liberal TNR blog responds:
With the stipulation that Obama’s stimulus package bears no resemblance whatsoever to Zimbabwe’s economic policy, I assume Sanford got to Zimbabwe because, if you’re going to allege that the stimulus package will lead to inflation (as Sanford did), then Zimbabwe–with its annual inflation rate of 89.7 Sextillion percent–makes for the ultimate unfavorable comparison. Granted, it’s a stupid comparison for Sanford to make, but I assume he was making it because of Zimbabwe’s hyperinflation, not because of its racial make-up.
Sounds like he got it right.
Update – 11:27 PM: This is an outrageous lie. Sanford did NOT compare Obama to Mugabe. Matt Yglesias should be ashamed of himself. He wasn’t like this until he started writing for “Think Progress.” Oh well.