Tim Murphy

Tim Murphy

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Tim Murphy is a senior reporter at Mother Jones. Email him with tips and insights at tmurphy@motherjones.com.

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The year's most offensive Super Bowl ad—and the competition was stiff—wasn't seen in most of the country. It was from Michigan GOP Rep. Pete Hoekstra, who's challenging Debbie Stabenow, an incumbent Democratic senator, in the fall. Or as the ad helpfully calls her, Debbie Spend-it-Now—"it" being "money," which Hoekstra fears will all end up in the hands of smiling, cunning Chinese women.

In the ad, an apparently well-educated young Chinese woman rides her bike through a rural rice paddie (Heaven knows why), and recounts Stabenow's support for raising the debt ceiling. Then she says, in perfectly broken English: "Debbie spend so much American money you borrow more and more from us. Your economy get very weak. Ours get very good. We take your jobs. Thank you, Debbie spend-it-now."

Stabenow's campaign is calling it "nothing more than a hypocritical attempt at a Hollywood-style makeover because the fact is, Pete spends a lot." But I think it's fair to say it's a lot more than just a Hollywood-style makeover; it's a play to racist Chinese stereotypes—simulatenously backwards, cold and calculating, anti-American, and capable of communicating only in broken English. Big Trouble in Little China was more progressive than this.

Thankfully, our new favorite Tumblr, "Racist Political Ads," is on the case.

Your Daily Newt: Crack Negotiating Skills

Then-Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich photobombs Bill Clinton's 1997 swearing-in ceremony.

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

One of Newt Gingrich's most compelling arguments on the campaign trail is that as president, he'll be able to win converts to his policies through sheer intellectual force and powers of persuasion. Put him in a one-on-one debate with Barack Obama and he'll wipe the floor with the president. Let him deal with Congress and he'll find a way to break through. Newt's been in the trenches with Bill Clinton, the thinking goes, and has the legislative victories to show for it. But as Robert Draper reported for GQ in 2005, Gingrich's negotiating skills often left his conservative colleagues shaking their heads:

The Clintons are never far from Newt's mind. They're like the Kennedys were to Nixon: glamorous, charismatic, brazen power-grabbing elitist amoral lying dream killers. Wrong on health care, wrong on the budget, wrong on the military...and so goddamned clever! Newt's staff and the class of '94 had seen it time and again: Every time Speaker Gingrich galloped into the Oval Office with his musket loaded for Slick Willie, he shuffled out holding his own gonads. "It got to the point where the Republican freshmen were afraid to send him in there alone," remembers Newt's archivist and friend, Mel Steely. "By the time Newt would get back to his office, Clinton's press secretary had already announced the opposite of what they'd agreed on. I'd say, 'Newt, how did you get suckered in?' And he'd say, 'Clinton would come up from behind his desk, put his arm around me, and say, "Newt, you're absolutely right." Just charm the pants right off of you.'"

Your Daily Newt: Ridin' the Rails

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

Newt Gingrich wants you to know that subways are for rich folks. Two weeks ago in South Carolina, he pilloried "those who, you know, live in high-rise apartment buildings writing for fancy newspapers in the middle of town after they ride the metro." On Friday in Nevada he blased Manhattan elites who take the subway to work.

Here's a photo of Newt Gingrich, from his 1998 book, Lessons Learned the Hard Way:

P.F. Bentley/Lessons Learned the Hard WayP.F. Bentley/Lessons Learned the Hard Way

In fairness, he was sitting in coach.

In Last of the Mohicans, British colonialists clash with anti-colonialists, and Daniel Day-Lewis fires two rifles at once.

As a service to our readers, every day we are delivering a classic moment from the political life of Newt Gingrich—until he either clinches the nomination or bows out.

Newt Gingrich's 1995 college class at Reinhardt College in Georgia is noteworthy mostly for being the focal point of the ethics investigation that ultimately ended his reign as speaker of the House. The course, "Renewing American Civilization" was intended to train upwards of 200,000 conservative activists in advance of the 1996 election, but it also gave Gingrich a platform to say literally anything that was on his mind, for two hours at a time, once a week. Needless to say, he took full advantage—praising, at various points, Little House on the Prairie, the futurists Alvin and Heidi Toffler, Boys Town, the Magnificent Seven, and one of his all-time favorite movies: Last of the Mohicans.

The screen adaptation of the James Fenimore Cooper joint, Gingrich explained, captured the very essence of what it means to be an American:

One of my favorite movies is the Last of the Mohicans, which I recommend to all of you. It's a great film about the French and Indian war. Wonderful scene where the American who was the Deerslayer is standing there and the British officer says, "aren't you going to Fort William Henry?" And he says, "No, I'm going to Kentucky." And he says, "How can you go to Kentucky in the middle of a war?" And he says, "You face north, turn left, and walk. It's west of here." It's a very American response. And the officer says, "but you're a British subject and you have to come and fight." And he says, "No, I am an American."

Now, he ends up going to fight. Why? Because of the girl—which is also classically American. It's a very romantic country. It really, historically, is a very romantic country. You can't be American without having romance in your heart. I mean, if you grow up as a cynic, it's very hard to sustain the magic that's American. But part of the conclusion I reached, oh, maybe 22 years ago, reading Daniel Boorstin's work on the Americans, is that as important as the mountain man is—and you remember Jeremiah Johnson, which is a great film, and again, a very useful introduction to a real authentic American—there were very few mountain men. There were very few people who went out on their own in the woods.

We're obliged to point out that Russell Means, who played Chingachgook in Last of the Mohicans, also briefly ran for vice president in 1984 as Hustler publisher Larry Flynt's running mate. Four years later, he pursued the libertarian nomination for president and lost—to Ron Paul.

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