12 Bigoted Taunts Peddled By Romney Camp and Allies
Mitt Romney's named campaign advisers want you to know that they had nothing, nada -- oops, didn't mean to use a foreign word -- to do with the assertion of an unnamed campaign adviser that Barack Obama just doesn't get that special relationship between the United Kingdom and the United States on account of his father being from Kenya. From the Telegraph:
“We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,” the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: “The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have”.
Yowsa. Might that have been a bit too explicit a revelation of the Romney metamessage? Late on Wednesday, the Associated Press reported:
Romney campaign spokesman Ryan Williams said Wednesday that if an adviser did say that, the adviser wasn’t reflecting Romney’s views.
But Telegraph readers, and those of us following the campaign stateside, might be forgiven for taking the report at face value, seeing how it simply follows a pattern of race-baiting and xenophobic condemnations of the president by Romney and his surrogates -- a pattern that dates back to last January. Corporate media largely ignored the subtext of Romney's earliest race-coded comments, and have been content to let more recent and blatant examples die after a day in the news cycle. So, as a public service, AlterNet here serves up 12 of the Romney campaign's great moments in bigotry.
1. Only Anglo-Saxons need apply. As recounted above, and blogged by Sarah Seltzer, a Romney adviser, speaking with the Daily Telegraph's Jon Swaine, made anonymous comments that essentially boiled down to the notion that Obama couldn't understand the UK's special relationship with its former colonies across the pond because he is either a) the son of a non-American African; b) black; c) not white; d) not Anglo-Saxon; or e) all of the above.
While spokesperson Andrea Saul said either the story or the assertion was "not true," it's not clear from the e-mail she sent to CBS News which she meant. The story broke on the eve of Romney's visit to London to evoke his Olympic-helming triumph and raise campaign cash.
In fact, Anglo-Saxon-gate fits so neatly into the Romney campaign narrative that the candidate himself seemed a bit tied in knots during a Wednesday interview with Brian Williams of the NBC Nightly News (via USA Today ):
"I don't agree with whoever that adviser is," Romney said in an interview with NBC News that aired this evening. "But I can tell you that we have a very special relationship between the United States and Great Britain. ... I also believe the president understands that."
Note that Romney has not pledged to fire "whoever that adviser is" if he finds out who he or she is, nor has he pledged to find out who that person is. (We do, however, note that Romney foreign policy adviser John Bolton has used the term "Anglo-Saxon " before in his critique of Obama.)
2. Dog-whistling "Dixie." Here we speak of Romney's linguistic outreach to those Republicans for whom the Civil War never ended. During the campaign for the Iowa caucuses (which Romney lost to former U.S. senator Rick Santorum, himself a master-race-baiter), Romney unveiled his nativist, dog-whistling strategy for the general election. Chauncey DeVega unpacked an awkward bit of Romney phrasing, delivered during the heat of the Republican presidential primary:
That's TWO. Just ten more to go...keep America America ." The dropping of one letter from the Ku Klux Klan’s slogan, “Keep America American,” does not remove the intent behind Romney’s repeated use of such a virulently bigoted phrase. While Mitt Romney can claim ignorance of the slogan’s origins, he is intentionally channeling its energy.
During that same period, Romney also debuted, in more subtle form, the notion of Obama as not quite American, contending that the president "doesn't understand America."