Mitt Romney’s campaign is looking increasingly desperate as the final leg of the election approaches, and it is not pretty.
One piece of evidence is, as The New Republic’s Jonathan Cohn has discussed, the fact that Romney has ramped up his level of lying (if such a thing is even possible) defending his position on the auto bailout, while at the same time leveling the utterly false charge that an Obama victory would result in Jeep jobs being sent to China, in a last-ditch effort to win Ohio.
Well, lying is par for the course when it comes to Romney, and at this point the public seems to have become numbed, by constant and repeated exposure, to Romney’s capacity for dishonesty.
But sadly and tragically, a more disturbing sign of Romney’s desperation was his dispatching his campaign’s co-national chairman, John Sununu, this past week to level a pathetic, disgusting, shameful and blatantly racist attack on our President.
(more on the flip)
In case you have been under a rock the past few days, appearing on the Piers Morgan show on CNN, Sununu said that the reason Gen. Colin Powell endorsed President Obama — never mind Gen. Powell’s own detailed and eloquent explanation — was because both of them are African Americans.
Here is what Sununu said:
(At some point, someone in the media ought to take notice of Morgan’s blase acceptance of Sununu’s offensive statement, as if it was perfectly appropriate, but I digress).
Now, whatever else you might think about Gen. Powell and his politics, here are a couple of facts about his service to our country:
– Numerous medals and decorations for his military service
– Four-star General
– National Security Advisor to Reagan 1987-89
– Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff 1989-93
– Congressional Gold Medal – 1991
– Presidential Medal of Freedom – 1991, with distinction, 1993
– Secretary of State 2001-2005
Not too shabby.
But, what Sununu’s attack tells us is that when Romney looks at Colin Powell, he doesn’t see a war hero, or a man of accomplishment who has given most of his life to serving his country. Rather, all he sees is a black man, and nothing else.
Actually, check that. I don’t know what Romney sees, and to be honest, I can’t say for sure that this campaign strategy signifies that Mitt Romney is a racist. I don’t know what is in his heart.
But this strategy actually tells us something considerably more disturbing about Mitt Romney.
It tells us that Mitt Romney thinks many of his voters, and his potential voters, are racists, and thus susceptible to an ugly appeal like this.
Folks, that’s not me calling Romney supporters racist. It is Romney doing so. In fact, I actually think this is a strategy that will ultimately backfire on Romney because, at least here in the Commonwealth, he is reading the electorate completely wrong. Perhaps I am naive, but I believe the majority of Virginians, whether they support President Obama or not, are honest and fair minded people trying to make the best decision they can for themselves.
But can there any longer be any doubt what Mitt Romney and his minions think of us? Sununu’s latest verbal vomit is part of an ongoing, intentional and purposeful campaign appealing to racists that Romney has been waging for several months now.
The dog whistles from earlier in the campaign — the welfare ads, the food stamp allegations, the Obama-doesn’t-understand-Anglo-Saxon-culture allegation, Sununu’s characterization of the President as not intelligent and “lazy,” and Romney’s allegedly off-hand “joke” about the President’s birthplace — did some of the work here. But, definitionally, dog whistle messages are ambiguous and unclear, with alternate explanations, so the perpetrators of the strategy can maintain deniability of their actual intent. Fair enough.
Unfortunately for Romney, his voter support appears to have topped out – even after his so-called debate surge – somewhere south of what he needs to win the election. We can conclude that Romney sees the election this way from the strategies he is following.
With no more scheduled events to turn the tide, he is now desperate for the final votes he thinks he still needs to put him over the top in places like Ohio and Virginia.
With only ten days to go, there is no time for dog whistles – campaigns like that require repetition and time for the more subtle message to filter through the media and sink into the intended recipients. So, out comes the express racial appeal.
But because he is making obvious what once he tried to hide, it is also risky, because it exposes the campaign to blowback. Sununu tried to minimize this with an immediate apology — seriously, did anyone by into that? — but the bigger takeaway is that Romney would only take this risk if he was losing and knew it.
Frankly, the whole thing is disappointing and sickening.
Whether you are a Democrat or a Republican, a Liberal or a Conservative, I ask, do you really want as your president a man who thinks so little of you, so little of America and his fellow Americans, that he pursues a strategy like this?