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Jul 12 2012

Boooooooo!

I will likely never get a chance to ‘boo’ Mitt Romney in person, so I will have to do it on the internet.

You may have heard that political windsock Mitt Romney* visited the NAACP yesterday. The audience, obviously predominantly black, booed him when he announced his intention to repeal “Obamacare” should he be elected into office. He then said… well he said a bunch of stupid shit. It was a fairly typical example of a white conservative politician rolling in and telling black people what they should care about instead of the silly frivolous things they do care about (like, y’know, being able to access health care):

Mr. Romney received polite applause at several points during the speech. But he was interrupted again when he flatly accused Mr. Obama of failing to spark a more robust economic recovery.

“I know the president has said he will do those things. But he has not. He cannot. He will not. And his last four years in the White House prove it definitively,” Mr. Romney said as the crowd’s murmurs turned to louder groans.

Finally, he stopped amid loud jeers.

“If you want a president who will make things better in the African-American community, you are looking at him. You take a look,” Mr. Romney shot back.

Cute.

The part that I love about this story is the photos of the audience reaction. This one is my favourite:

Closeup photo of skeptical looking face

Of course, there are some who think that Romney wasn’t there to speak to the people in the room at all – that he went there with no interest in actually addressing black issues, but simply so he could show the low-information voters he’s relying on that he tried. “Not my fault that Those People didn’t listen to me talk about the economy. They’re just mad that I want to take away their handouts”. Think that’s a bit far-fetched? Listen to his response at a Montana fundraiser later that day:

I want people to know what I stand for and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that’s just fine. But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy-more free stuff. But don’t forget nothing is really free.

Yes, Mitt. “Free stuff”, like outrageous tax breaks for the wealthy? Or maybe you mean “free stuff” like health insurance that you pay for with your own money?

The point is, Mitt Romney didn’t go to the NAACP to talk to black folks. He went to talk to the folks who listen to bloated ignoramuses like Rush Limbaugh:

“Obama’s the Preezy,” Limbaugh told his listeners Wednesday, (get it? Cuz that’s how black people talk). “He’s confident they’ll boo Romney, simply ’cause Romney’s white. He’s confident of that.” I’m sure Limbaugh will have an impressive rationalization for why Vice President Joe Biden was so well received by the NAACP convention Thursday. This is, put simply, the dumbest thing Limbaugh has said since the time the 61-year old radio host revealed he didn’t know how birth control works.

(snip)

There are only two instances in the past thirty years or so in which a “white guy” of comparable status to Romney getting booed at an NAACP convention. Following his appearance in 2000, George W. Bush snubbed the NAACP for years as president, but when he finally did speak in 2006, he was booed when he brought up charter schools and the war in Iraq. Prior to that, you have to go back about twenty years of white guys not getting booed to 1983, when then-Vice President George H.W. Bush was booed because of his defense of the Reagan administration’s civil rights record. Even then, ABC News describes him as being “well received” when he returned as a presidential candidate in 1988.

Of course it’s far easier for Rush (and his fans) to believe that black people are mindless animals who are just too stupid and complacent to see that Republican policies are really the best way to address racial inequalities. That is a far more parsimonious explanation than actually listening to people when they tell you why Republican policies are terrible, or actually believing that black folks are capable of understanding the issues without the need for the WASP du jour to swoop in and whitesplain the many ways in which the bulging vein of systematic racism that so obviously runs through the American body politic is simply the result of black people failing to tug hard enough on their (our) bootstraps.

Then again, Romney also prefers to bring his own black people to the party, so who the hell knows who he’s listening to.

I’ll let the words Mother Jones’ Adam Serwer finish this post off:

This is not actually about whether or not being white means you get booed at an NAACP convention, though. It’s about a right-wing narrative of white racial resentment, wherein black people are reduced to nothing more than a tangle of seething racial hatred, spending eternity plotting new and fiendish ways to make white people suffer. Or as Limbaugh put it yesterday, “[black people] thought a whole bunch of getting even with ‘em out there was gonna be happening.” This is projection: By assuring white people that black people hate them and want to take their stuff, any anger or fear Limbaugh’s audience feels towards black people collectively, and Obama in particular, is justified. This is racial tribalism at its most explicit and crude.

Aren’t you glad we live in the post-racial America? Things must have been awful before.

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*So named because his direction and convictions go wherever the winds are blowing

13 comments

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  1. 1
    carlie

    Of course, there are some who think that Romney wasn’t there to speak to the people in the room at all – that he went there with no interest in actually addressing black issues, but simply so he could show the low-information voters he’s relying on that he tried.

    Aw, don’t be so hard on him! I’m sure that’s not all he went there for. He also probably wanted a photo op.

  2. 2
    'Tis Himself

    Romney, who could buy a health insurance company if he wanted to, doesn’t understand that 26% of Americans are without health insurance. He probably knows that statistic, but it’s a meaningless noise to him. If he gets sick he goes to the doctor and gets treated, same for all the people he knows.

    Then Romney goes in front of an audience for whom the statistic isn’t meaningless, because either they’re in that 26% or people they know intimately are in the 26%, and makes a promise to “repeal Obamacare.” Romney basically told the NAACP audience that he doesn’t care about their concerns. It’s not a white vs. black issue, it’s a privileged immensely rich guy vs. working and middle class issue.

  3. 3
    smhll

    The point is, Mitt Romney didn’t go to the NAACP to talk to black folks.

    What I heard was the NPR radio coverage, when I was half asleep, but I agree with your perception. He just sounded “off” to me, like he was recording a commercial rather than engaging with or even challenging his audience. Like he was pitching his voice to carry outside the venue to an audience further away, to some extent. (Not literally.) It seemed like he was posing to make a point. And positioning himself as the anti-Obama while also trying to project the idea that he’s not a racist.

    (Even though the Mormon church has been spectacularly racist in the past, my impression is that Romney’s dad was somewhat less racist than the average politician of that era. But haven’t done any research, just seen a couple of allusions in news articles.)

  4. 4
    Michael R

    “It was a fairly typical example of a white conservative politician rolling in and telling black people what they should care about instead of the silly frivolous things they do care about”.

    So Romney can’t speak for blacks, but you can? You, but not he, can presume to know what all blacks want? Hypocritical all in one sentence. At least now I understand why 98% of blacks voted for Obama. Because they all have the same reflexive “booooo!”.

  5. 5
    Crommunist

    So Romney can’t speak for blacks, but you can?

    And I said that… when?

  6. 6
    Winterwind

    Yeah, they hate all white people. That’s why no blacks voted for Bill Clinton.

  7. 7
    smhll

    I came across these quotes on an NYTimes blog (referencing Buzzfeed). If his remarks later in the day were written in advance, rather than spontaneous, then that would suggest a One Two punch with a setup (the NAACP speech) and then the payoff, referencing it later in the day to a likely friendlier audience.

    Note: “I don’t give different speeches” and “more free stuff from the government.”

    Shoot, some of the formatting appears to be lost in translation. It’s difficult to see where the quotation ends and the blogging begins.

    According to Buzzfeed, this is what Romney told a group of donors in Hamilton, Mont. on Wednesday night:

    I had the privilege of speaking today at the N.A.A.C.P. convention in Houston and I gave them the same speech I am giving you. I don’t give different speeches to different audiences all right.
    Romney added:

    When I mentioned I am going to get rid of Obamacare they weren’t happy, I didn’t get the same response. That’s O.K, I want people to know what I stand for and if I don’t stand for what they want, go vote for someone else, that’s just fine.

    Revealingly, there was more:

    But I hope people understand this, your friends who like Obamacare, you remind them of this, if they want more stuff from government tell them to go vote for the other guy — more free stuff. But don’t forget nothing is really free. It has to paid for by people in the private sector creating goods and services, and if people want jobs more than they want free stuff from government, then they are going to have to get government to be smaller.

  8. 8
    Anne C. Hanna

    Is this a setup for a joke about Bill Clinton being the first black president? :D

    Also, “whitesplain”: ouch. The funny thing about Romney is that he seems to be so clueless about *everything* outside his little bubble of privilege that I could almost find myself feeling a little sorry for him, were it not for the incredibly negative impacts of his actions…

  9. 9
    fallingwhale

    I want to see Mitt mention that he would like to repeal the Voting Rights Act at an NAACP meeting. It would make it humorously hard to minimize the press coverage. Fox would be even more unintentionally hilarious/racist/xenophobic than normal for weeks. It would be great.

  10. 10
    gratch

    Watching Romney give that speech I was reminded of an uncle who’s not good with kids suddenly trying to entertain a room full of nieces and nephews: “What do kids like these days? Those Pokemon things? I’ll get you those! The other guy won’t get you those!”

  11. 11
    Setár, Elvenkitty

    Always about the gods of the private sector having to pay for everything, isn’t it?

    I wonder if he can tell us which corporation built the Hoover Dam…

  12. 12
    mynameischeese

    It makes perfect sense that 98% of black people would have voted for the guy who wasn’t Bush. What’s puzzling is that we didn’t see 98% of white people vote for Obama. To understand that, we have to explore the republican strategy of convincing people (especially working class white people) to vote against their own best interests.

  13. 13
    Crommunist

    The folks who make Hoover vacuums, obv.

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