Comparing Welfare Recipients to Raccoons Might Be a Savvy Strategy

Politicians like Jon Bruning now raise money off their most controversial statements

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Nebraska Attorney General Jon Bruning said welfare recipients are like racoons scavaging for bugs this week. Talking Points Memo's Benjy Sarlin spotted video of Bruning's distasteful metaphor, and people are pretty mad about it. But if you have the kind of grumpy uncle who loves telling you all about how your generation is ruining the country with its tight clothes and loud music, you know that in certain circles, a poor-person-racoon comparison is a pretty okay thing to say. This is probably why Bruning said it. Because in addition to his day job as attorney general, Bruning's also the leading Republican candidate to challenge Senator Ben Nelson next year.

Bruning was complaining about environmental regulations requiring workers at a construction site to gather endangered beetles into a bucket so they could be released into the wild. The guidelines suggest trapping the bugs with a dead rat in a bucket. But all those bugs in a bucket look like a tasty feast to a raccoon. Bruning explains:
"The raccoons figured out the beetles are in the bucket.... And its like grapes in a jar. The raccoons -- they're not stupid, they're gonna do the easy way if we make it easy for them. Just like welfare recipients all across America. If we don't send them to work, they're gonna take the easy route."
Liberals are mad. Conservative donors, though, just might be gleeful that liberals are mad. In June, The Washington Post's Dan Eggen and T.W. Farnam reported on a new campaign innovation, which they dubbed the "money blurt"--similar to the "cheap pop" in professional wrestling--in which a politician says something controversial and takes heat for it while his staff busily raises money of the comment. Bruning staffers, to the phones!
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.