I wasn’t especially impressed by Mitt Romney’s speech to the NAACP (nor, frankly, by the way Romney was booed, though that’s a different matter) but at least I wasn’t driven demented by it. The same, alas, cannot be said for poor Michael Tomasky who sees something rotten lurking in the dark heart of Romney’s, er, standard stump speech:
‘[Romney] he wasn’t a race-baiter until yesterday. That speech wasn’t to the NAACP. It was to Rush Limbaugh. It was to Tea Party Nation. It was to Fox News. Oh, he said some nice things. And sure, let’s give him one point for going there at all. But listen: You don’t go into the NAACP and use the word &”Obamacare” and think that you’re not going to hear some boos. It’s a heavily loaded word, and Romney and his people know very well that liberals and the president’s supporters consider it an insult. He and his team had to know those boos were coming, and Romney acknowledged as much a few hours later in an interview with . . . guess which channel (hint: it’s the one whose web site often has to close articles about race to commenters because of the blatant racism). Romney and team obviously concluded that a little shower of boos was perfectly fine because the story &”Romney Booed at NAACP” would jazz up their (very white) base.
The mention, for the record, was couched, with appropriate plausible deniability, in the middle of a list of five things he’d do to get the economy humming again. Point three concerned reducing government spending and bring down the debt: &”To do this, I will eliminate expensive non-essential programs like Obamacare, and I will work to reform and save Medicare and Social Security, in part by means-testing their benefits.”
The context is crucial, and the fact that it was mentioned in passing certainly does not absolve Romney because it was just one item on a list. Think of it this way: If you are trying to talk a friend or co-worker out of a position or belief that you consider to be ill-advised—if, that is, you are actually and earnestly trying to be in that person’s good graces and get through to them — you will make a calm and reasoned case and try to get your target audience to see things your way. You don’t just peremptorily denounce the position you know he is attached to as &”non-essential” and say you’ll eliminate it and move on to point four. You would know that that would come across as both condescending and ineffective.’
Oh please. This is guff. Guff on stilts, in fact. It’s true that being booed by the NAACP won’t hurt Romney with the wilder, nastier corners of the Republican base. Nevertheless, to presume Romney set this speech up so as to perform and benefit from this kind of trick shot is to grant the campaign a deeper level of cunning than it has shown any sign of owning.
As for suggesting that referring to the Affordable Care Act as ‘Obamacare’ is some kind of racially-loaded signal used only by people who loathe the President then, well, this is news to me. Looking at my own RSS feed I see that Obamacare is used pretty frequently by such notoriously vicious Obama-haters as Ezra Klein, Kevin Drum, Andrew Sullivan and the crew at the Economist. There are many others.
Besides, damn it, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (to give the thing its “proper” or propaganda name) is the great legislative achievement of the age. It fulfills 40 years of promises made by Presidents of both parties. Were I an Obama partisan I’d be quite happy to see the President’s name attached to this momentous piece of legislation. And this would be the case even if people who loathe the President are also keen to tie him to his bill.
No, the reason some folk dislike hearing the bill referred to as Obamacare is because the act is, so far, fairly unpopular. It has nothing to do with race. Instead and as a label Obamacare follows in the footsteps of, well, Hillarycare and, gosh, Romneycare.
There’s sufficient real ugliness out there without inventing stuff to flatter your own prejudices that your political opponents must invariably be motivated by the basest motives.Tags: Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, Race, Republicans, US politics