Jennifer Rubin, blogging at the Washington Post, has this to say about President Obama's use of the term "thinly veiled social Darwinism" to describe Paul Ryan's budget: "Let's be clear about two things. The supposedly erudite Obama labeled Ryan a race supremacist..."
Let's be clear about one thing: Jennifer Rubin doesn't have the slightest idea what she's talking about.
The term "social Darwinism" was made famous by Richard Hofstadter's 1944 book Social Darwinism in American Thought. Hofstadter called social Darwinism a "phase in the history of conservative thought" and wrote:
Darwinism was used to buttress the conservative outlook in two ways. The most popular catchwords of Darwinism, 'struggle for existence' and 'survival of the fittest,' when applied to the life of man in society, suggested that nature would provide that the best competitors in a competitive situation would win, and that this process would lead to continuing improvement. In itself this was not a new idea, as economists could have pointed out, but it did give the force of a natural law to the idea of competitive struggle. Secondly, the idea of development over eons brought new force to another familiar idea in conservative political theory, the conception that all sound developments must be slow and unhurried.
If you look at all the thinkers Hofstadter labeled Social Darwinists, you will find some who were racial supremacists and illegitimately used Darwinian language or ideas to justify their positions. But you will also find some who weren't and who chose other areas for their misapplication of Darwinism. In fact, if you read Hofstadter's ten-page introduction, which is devoted to defining "social Darwinism," you won't find a single reference to racism or racial supremacism. Rather, the emphasis is overwhelmingly on class supremacism, and on the use of Darwinian ideas or language to justify laissez faire economics. Social Darwinism, wrote Hofstadter, was above all the idea that "attempts to reform social processes were efforts to remedy the irremediable, that they interfered with the wisdom of nature, that they could lead only to degeneration."