Race encounters of the cynical kind

On Wednesday, Mitt Romney appeared before the NAACP and basically insulted them directly, not bothering to waver from his standard stump speech or address any issues specific to the black community.  He was even booed at one point, when he insisted he would try to repeal “Obamacare”–not the Affordable Care Act; he specifically referred to it as “Obamacare”.  This was not a campaign stop, this was a publicity stunt, cloaked in an insulting and deliberate provocation.

Later in the day, the strategy became clear:  Mitt was race-baiting, with his campaign manager and several staffers gloating about getting booed.  Limbaugh insisted it was because he was white.  Romney told Neil Caputo on Fox he expected to get booed, and later compounded the whole thing by dismissing an entire demographic, casually saying if they wanted “free stuff” they should “vote for the other guy.”  As I said in yesterday’s post, this is ugly racial politics, of the kind we haven’t seen for decades.  In essence, Romney was sending a message to white Republican voters that under a Romney administration, the free ride is over for the colored folk.

This is playing to a seedy undercurrent that has permeated the right throughout the Obama presidency–specifically, that white people are being oppressed under Obama, and minorities are favored.  Despite the complete lack of any evidence to support this assertion, the myth has persisted and even grown.  Supported only by the most blatant distortions of fact, and by questionable anecdotal evidence, there have been a steady drumbeat of white hardship stories coming out of Fox News and the Limbaugh show.  It would be funny if it wasn’t so pathetic and sad.  Setting aside the armchair psychology of why conservatives assume the first thing a minority president wants to do in a democratic republic is oppress the majority–and avoiding the question of what would motivate him to do that–it is patently absurd to suggest that being a white male in America is any more challenging today than it was in 2007.  Nonetheless, the myth persists–and it is exactly what Romney was playing to with this week’s NAACP stunt.

In fairness, it was a strategically solid maneuver.  The odds of Romney making significant inroads with black voters are low to nonexistent, so he didn’t likely lose many votes.  He did, on the other hand, shore up his street credentials with the kind of voters who  fear that Obama’s election marked the beginning of some sort of black takeover of the country, in which segregation returns, but this time it’s us at the back of the bus.  As reprehensible as this move was, it is, sadly, the most well-planned thing I’ve seen the Romney campaign do this whole election.  On a side note, I do have to wonder what it says about the candidate–who, let’s recall, is unrepentant about being a high school bully and is a member of a church that thinks black skin is a curse from God–that the most well thought out, strategically sound play he’s made this year was a racist, dick move.

Which brings us to the Condoleeza Rice angle.  On Thursday, the Drudge Report leaked word posted a Romney campaign announcement that Condoleeza Rice was  the top pick for vice president on the Republican ticket. While this caused quite a stir, it didn’t quite make sense to me for reasons I couldn’t immediately place.  There were many things that didn’t add up.  For one, Rice has adamantly insisted she isn’t interested in the job.  For another, Rice has never been particularly comfortable under the harsh glare of the political spotlight.  Finally, Rice has long been pro-abortion and pro-immigrant, two positions that would rattle the cages of every conservative voter who remains suspicious that Romney’s recent conversions from similar views are merely a political ploy.  In any case, while the idea sparked numerous lively discussions, it was never a serious announcement.  This occurred to me during one of those lively discussions, when a friend and I were discussing the various merits and challenges of Rice as the nominee via chat.  My comments from yesterday conversation were:

[she’s] a decoy.
Walk with me here:
Wednesday: race baiting
Thursday: rumors that Rice is his top nominee.

He doesn’t have to nominate her, he’s using the rumor to blunt criticism that he’s a racist. He can still nominate a pasty white guy but he’s got cover that he was seriously considering a black woman. Win-win.

Today’s post was originally intended to be my prediction that Condoleeza Rice was not going to be the nominee, and an expectation that we’d get the announcement some time next week.  However, when I went on line just to double check that no announcement had already been made, I found this.

An aide to Rice, who is now at Stanford University in California, said she was standing by previous statements that she was not interested in the position. “Nothing has changed,” Georgia Godfrey, Rice’s chief of staff, said in an email.

The article then goes on to disingenuously suggest that the Romney campaign may have floated the idea as a distraction from stories about how he lied about leaving Bain Capital in 1999.  I call bullshit; this was a flat out effort to distance himself from a particularly ugly bit of racial politics that Romney engaged in earlier in the week, nothing more.

The more I learn about Willard Mitt Romney, the less I like.  In my introductory post, I said I thought that my impression was he was a basically decent guy; my view of him has been evolving since, as we learn more about the horrible things he’s done and see the depths to which he’ll sink in pursuit of this election.  I’m now at the point where I think Mitt Romney is an asshole–and a cynical, manipulative, devious, unprincipled, and possibly psychopathic one at that.  We elected Barack Obama because after seeing what eight years of a president like that did to this country, we decided we’ve had enough.  Do we really want another president like George W. Bush back in the White House?  Have we already forgotten?






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