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“A Strategy Of Deception”: Romney Complains While Using Race To Divide The Nation

On the eve of his nominating convention, Mitt Romney complained to USA Today about the “vituperative” and “dishonest” assaults on his character by the Obama campaign and its surrogates. “Isn’t it sad?” asked the Republican candidate. “The White House just keeps stepping lower and lower and lower, and the people of America know this is an important election and they deserve better than they’ve seen.”

This whining hardly becomes the politician who dispatched his Republican rivals with multi-million-dollar barrages of attack ads. There is some truth to his complaint that Obama’s campaign is trying “to minimize me as an individual, to make me a bad person, an unacceptable person,” but that is precisely what he did to Newt Gingrich, Rick Perry, and Rick Santorum on the road to Tampa. The Republican primary season was the most vicious in memory – and committees backing Romney led the bloody pack, spending more than two-thirds of their money on negative advertising.

What he is doing now, however, is arguably much worse. And again it is the kind of political behavior that shames the memory of his father George.

What’s truly sad – for a country that hurdled an important barrier four years ago – is that Romney and his aides are running an increasingly racialized campaign, seeking to capture a supermajority of white voters, because they can see no other pathway to victory. Some analysts estimate that the Republican ticket cannot win the White House without at least 61 percent of white voters – a significantly higher percentage than voted for John McCain in 2008.

Romney’s remark about his birth certificate in Michigan last week can be generously discounted as a clumsy attempt at humor, rather than a calculated slur. Growing up in the bigoted environment of the Mormon Church, he may be sufficiently obtuse not to realize that “birtherism” is a racist movement. But that wouldn’t excuse his vile advertising, which is clearly designed to stoke white resentments with false attacks on White House welfare and health care policies. The overall theme, as Thomas Edsall, Chris Matthews, and other analysts have charged, could hardly be clearer: Obama is taking Medicare money away from hard-working whites to give cash and medical care to indolent blacks.

There is no truth to those insinuations, as anyone who spends ten minutes to investigate will discover. Yet we have long since learned that a strategy of deception can succeed if it confirms existing fears and prejudices. America is neither a post-racial nor a post-partisan society, and there are certainly voting blocs, particularly among older whites, whose underlying beliefs make them more receptive to the Republican lies about Obama.

Romney may deplore discussion of his tax returns and business career, although he has used precisely those same questions to raise doubts about Republican rivals in the past. But when he falsely accuses the President of undoing welfare reform “to shore up his base,” he is trafficking in the racial ugliness that disfigured his church for a century. Having claimed that he marched with his father for civil rights, he has a special responsibility to rein in the nastiness of his minions.

If not for the sake of simple patriotism or pride, Romney should abandon the racial messaging to protect his own legacy. More than 20 years ago, Republicans won a presidential campaign with a blatantly racial appeal. The men responsible – Roger Ailes, Larry McCarthy, the late Lee Atwater, even the first President Bush — will never quite transcend that “Willie Horton” moment when opportunism overwhelmed decency.

Neither will Mitt Romney.


By: Joe Conason, The National Memo, August 28, 2012

August 30, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

“The Patriarchy”: Why We Should Worry About The Soulless, Entitled Mitt Romney

Time to give Mitt Romney the dressage-down he so “richly” deserves. And it’s not just about money. Let me count the whys we should send this smug, vapid, preppie packing: power, sex, and religion. Frankly, I don’t give a damn about the dog issue, Gail Collins.

But if President Obama won’t give ’em hell, then allow me.

The best that can be said about the soulless Mr. Romney is that he was better than the field of fools and rogues running in the Republican primary. At first, I was willing to take him at his word as a sensible clean Republican who meant well and dressed the part.

I thought the 2002 Winter Olympics (which he ran) came off fine except for the part when President George W. Bush opened the games, saying to all the athletes assembled: “Welcome to the greatest country in the world!” How gauche and contrary to the spirit of the moment.

But as we got to know Mitt more and more, I liked him less and less. The cruel private school “prank” that he led on a fellow teen struggling with his sexuality, attacking him and cutting off his long hair, showed a darker side. He was leader of a pack. The presidency is absolutely about character and personality, as much as it is about policy. A handsome apology becomes a man, but his ungenerous words fell flat.

A brief confession. As a liberal, I secretly liked Ronald Reagan as an individual, for he had a certain charm and knew how to tell a story. Though I deplored some of his policies (not all), I detected a heartbeat under the presidential aura he displayed like a performance artist. Romney looks the part of an American president, but he doesn’t really act it. His genial side seems forced. Like the younger Bush, he may just want to be president to one-up his father George—who ran and lost. History’s closet rattles with father-son rivalries that turn out tragically. Not on our time, please.

Searching through news pages, debates, live speeches, and interviews in 2012, Romney has not said a thing—and I mean not one—that shows a whit of wit, compassion, charm, or insight. Since challenging (and losing to) the late great Sen. Ted Kennedy, he’s shifted his ground to antichoice with no good reason why. And how craven is it to deny your own healthcare mandate as governor because your opponent managed to make the model pass Congress to become law?

Have you no shame, sir?

Arguably, Romney has not given the electorate or the press reasons “why” for anything. His stance, when it comes to disclosing his robber baron compensation at Bain and tax returns over the years, is that we don’t need to know. Nor do we have the right to question his actions.

In that sense, Romney is behaving precisely like the patriarch he is. In two other roles, he simply hands down his word as a chieftain in the Mormon Church and as a leader in corporate America. What he says goes. Impervious, he does not brook dissent or even comment. His life has been like that, always in the power position, always in authority—or being prepared at Harvard business and law schools on how to brandish and maximize his power and wealth. Let’s give him this. Nobody in his generation did it better.

In San Francisco among subversive women, we had a phrase for a man like Romney: “the patriarchy.” The whole system wrapped up in one man. Romney, the father of five sons, could hardly be more perfect for this dubious title.

Because of the blatantly male lay leadership structure that dominates the Mormon Church, Romney can be counted on by society’s elders to keep the faith with the power distribution as is, between men and women. He is utterly capable of having a cabinet that looks like him, without missing a beat or calling up any new friends at the NAACP.

Such a sincere, lifelong Mormon in the White House would keep women the weaker sex, frozen or pushed back from workplace gains we’ve managed to make, thanks mostly to President Clinton. The Family and Medical Leave Act was a great thing for the women of Obama’s generation. We should be worried about the retro Romney.

Romney’s not just a man’s man. He’s a privileged white man’s man with an outrageous fortune. Power, secrets, compliant women, and nothing but the best of everything else are all the entitlement.

No, he’s not going to change for you and me—or the American people.


By: Jamie Stiehm, Washington Whispers, U. S. News and World Report, July 17, 2012

July 18, 2012 Posted by | Election 2012 | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Honoring The Value Of Owners”: LDS Church-Owned Radio Station Stands By Rush Limbaugh

More than forty advertisers—from Allstate Insurance to Sears—and two radio stations have dumped Rush Limbaugh since he went on the offensive against Sandra Fluke, calling the Georgetown student a “slut” and “prostitute” for her advocacy of insurance coverage for contraceptive medications.

But not KTTH 770 AM in Seattle, Washington; a station owned and operated by Bonneville Communications, a wholly-owned subsidiary of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

As protests mounted Monday, a KTTH spokesperson defended Limbaugh, using a boilerplate statement from his syndicator, Premiere Radio Networks:

AM 770 The Truth is committed to providing its listeners with access to a broad range of opinion and commentary. The contraception debate is one that sparks strong emotion and opinions on both sides of the issue. Radio can be and has been a great platform for a lively exchange of ideas as we seek to provide understanding. In this case, we wish Mr. Limbaugh would have been more civil in his treatment of the topic and his characterization of those involved, but we respect his right, as well as the rights of those who disagree with him, to express those opinions.

Here are the Limbaugh “opinions” Bonneville-owned KTTH would defend, as voiced on-air February 29 and March 1:

“What does it say about the college coed Susan Fluke, who goes before a congressional committee and essentially says that she must be paid to have sex? What does that make her? It makes her a slut, right? It makes her a prostitute. She wants to be paid to have sex.”

“Can you imagine if you’re her parents how proud of Sandra Fluke you would be? Your daughter goes up to a congressional hearing conducted by the Botox-filled Nancy Pelosi and testifies she’s having so much sex she can’t afford her own birth control pills and she agrees that Obama should provide them, or the Pope.”

“She’s having so much sex, it’s amazing she can still walk.”

“Who bought your condoms in sixth grade?”

“So, Ms. Fluke and the rest of you feminazis, here’s the deal. If we are going to pay for your contraceptives, and thus pay for you to have sex, we want something for it, and I’ll tell you what it is. We want you to post the videos online so we can all watch.”

All of this in response to Ms. Fluke’s efforts to testify in support of employer-provided health care coverage that includes prescription birth control medicine used by millions of American women not only for contraception but also for cancer prevention and treatment of polycystic ovaries and endometriosis.

LDS Church-subsidiary Bonneville International owns 29 radio stations. It is one of seven religiously-owned or affiliated national radio networks, including the American Family Association network (165 stations), Bible Broadcasting Network (37 stations), Educational Media Association (290 stations), Family Stations (67 stations), Moody Bible Institute (36 stations), and the for-profit Christian broadcaster Salem Communications (97 stations—for-profit Christian broadcaster).

No other religiously-owned or affiliated radio network in the country airs Rush Limbaugh—except the LDS-owned Bonneville International.

In October 2010, LDS/Bonneville-owned KSL radio in Salt Lake City dumped political commentator Sean Hannity, a move some viewed as an effort to align programming with a recently adopted corporate mission and values statement including the following points:

“I honor principles espoused by our owner in the products and services I provide.”
“I promote integrity, civility, morality, and respect for all people.”
“I seek to lift, inspire, and help others find enduring happiness.”
“I seek to instill light and knowledge in my work.”

How does Rush Limbaugh’s crass misogyny (and public humiliation of a civilian) honor the values of its owners?


BY: Joanna Brooks, Religion Dispatches, March 8, 2012

March 9, 2012 Posted by | Family Values, Womens Rights | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mitt Romney The Weathervane: What Our Most Changeable Politician Can Tell Us About The Modern GOP

As Mitt Romney enters the Republican presidential race this week, there will be plenty of attention on his shifting political views. But Romney’s changing positions are not just the tragicomic tale of a man so desperate for the presidency he’ll say anything to get there: they’re also a valuable measure of what it takes to make it in the modern GOP.

Romney’s many breathtaking U-turns — on universal health care, on gay rights, on abortion rights — have been extensively documented and parsed, and have become a reliable punchline. The former governor’s willingness to adopt the position that he thinks will get him the most votes in whatever election he happens to be running in does speak to his own character. But Romney’s ease at shifting also makes him a perfect weathervane for measuring the audiences he is trying to appeal to. And the speed with which Romney has been spinning to the right is an alarming sign of the political winds within the Republican Party.

This weekend, Romney will be making an important appearance among a group that has historically mistrusted him: the Religious Right. Speaking at the annual conference of Ralph Reed’s Faith and Freedom Coalition, Romney can be expected to once again disavow his previously convenient reasonable positions on abortion rights and gay equality. But he is also likely to go a step farther.

At a similar event in 2007, as he tried to shake off his image as a socially moderate Massachusetts Republican in preparation for his first presidential run, Romney spoke at the Values Voter Summit hosted by a coalition of right-wing social issues groups. In his speech, he rattled off Religious Right catchphrases, speaking of the United States’ “Judeo-Christian heritage,” the “breakdown of the family,” and making “out-of-wedlock birth out of fashion again” and passing an anti-gay marriage amendment to “protect marriage from liberal, unelected judges.” He promised a federal “marriage amendment,” funding for vouchers for religious schools and across-the-board anti-choice policies. By earlier that year, he had impressed Ann Coulter enough that she endorsed him in a speech made famous by her use of an anti-gay slur.

At last year’s Values Voter Summit, having done full penance to the Religious Right for his previous statements in favor of gay rights and choice, Romney focused his speech on right-wing economic policies, including an odd tribute comparing Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton to the Founding Fathers. But the company he kept revealed the friends he was hoping to make. The event was sponsored in part by the Family Research Council and the American Family Association, two groups who were soon to be named “hate groups” by the SPLC for their long histories of false anti-gay rhetoric. Romney’s fellow speakers included Religious Right stalwarts Phyllis Schlafly, Tony Perkins, Planned Parenthood scam artist Lila Rose, and the AFA’s Bryan Fischer, who has gained infamy with his vicious rhetoric about gays and lesbians, Muslims, African Americans and progressives. I wrote a letter to Romney warning him about associating himself with Fischer — he didn’t respond.

The Religious Right leaders that Romney is eager to curry favor with aren’t just hostile to gays, Muslims and the social safety net — many have expressed concern or even outright hostility to Romney’s own Mormon faith. Fischer recently confronted Romney’s faith, declaring that there is “a direct contradiction between Mormon theology and the teaching of Jesus Christ.” A writer for a leading Religious Right publication declared, “If Mitt Romney believes what the Mormon Church teaches about the world and how it operates, then he is unfit to serve.” As Romney angles himself into an increasingly extreme GOP, he will have to make nice to those who insult not only his past politics but his core religious beliefs.

At the Faith and Freedom Conference this weekend, Romney will have a similar opportunity to reinforce his social conservative bona fides while tying in his newly adamant anti-gay and anti-choice positions with the Tea Party’s love of pro-corporate anti-tax talk. Ralph Reed, the resurgent mastermind behind the Christian Coalition, will perhaps be the perfect ally in his effort to paint himself as a true Tea Party candidate who wants small government for corporations and big government for individuals. Reed was, after all, partly responsible for bringing the passion of American evangelicals to the Republican anti-regulation agenda and schmoozes equally comfortably with Pat Robertson and Jack Abramoff. He is the perfect power-broker for an age when GOP politicians are supposed to oppose universal health care while supporting IRS involvement in abortions – the niche that Romney is trying to carefully fit himself into.

Romney will try to take advantage of the GOP base’s newfound love of tax breaks for the rich, while continuing to pretend that he never supported choice and gay rights and reasonable environmental and health policies. If he can get away with it, he’ll be the perfect candidate for today’s ultraconservative GOP. But either way, he’s bound to become a powerful symbol of just how far to the Right you have to go to make it in today’s Republican Party.


By: Michael B. Keegan, President, People For The American Way: Posted June 3, 2011 in The Huffington Post.

June 5, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Democracy, Economy, Elections, GOP, Health Care, Ideologues, Ideology, Mitt Romney, Politics, Public Opinion, Religion, Republicans, Right Wing, Tea Party, Voters | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The Other: Most Americans Don’t Come From Mayflower Stock

To watch Mitt Romney these days, he of the creased blue jeans and family that looks like it came from a  Betty Crocker mold, circa 1957, it’s hard to see a product of one of the most radical social and sexual experiments in American history.

But it’s true. White-bread Mitt is the great-grandson of a man who married five women.  At the turn of the last century, Miles Romney was sent to Mexico by the bearded patriarchs of the Mormon Church, there to start a colony for those who thought it was divine right to have as many wives as they wanted.  Romney’s father, George, was born in Mexico, a descendant of outlaws with harems.

I started thinking about the extraordinary family past of the possible Republican presidential nominee after reading part of  Janny Scott’s fascinating new book,  “A Singular Woman: The Untold Story of Barack Obama’s Mother.”

Scott, a former Times colleague, tells a story of family dislocation and fierce maternal independence.  In Hawaii and Indonesia, young Barry Obama stood out like a redwood on the prairie, and was taunted for his skin color.  The father he never knew was from a Kenyan goat-herding family, and the stepfather he barely knew was an Indonesian whose main passion was tennis. Obama was raised mostly by white grandparents from Kansas, and a free-spirited mother with a passion for education.

It’s a miracle of sorts, given the drift a boy with that background must have felt, that Obama’s own family with Michelle  now seems so grounded — and normal.  It’s also startling that Romney, whose ancestry includes six polygamous men with 41 wives, is now considered an icon for traditional family values.   Mitt’s great-grandmother, Hannah Hood, wrote how she used to “walk the floor and shed tears of sorrow” over her husband’s many wives.

The background of both men is telling, in one sense:  how success can emerge from the blender of American ethnicity and lifestyle experimentation.   But it takes a generation, or more, for many people to get used to the novelty, as the long, despicable sideshow over Obama’s birth certificate demonstrates.

This shameful episode has little to do with reality and  everything to do with the strangeness of Obama’s  background — especially his race.  Many Republicans refuse to accept that Obama could come from such an exotic stew and still be “American.” They have to delegitimize him.  So, even though the certificate of live birth first made public in 2008  is a legal document that any court would have to recognize,  they demanded more.

No American president has ever been so humiliated, and those who think it has nothing to do with race are deluding themselves.  Donald Trump owes Obama an apology for doing more to stoke these coded fears about the president’s origins than anyone. But don’t hold your breath: a man without class or shame will not soon grow a conscience. The only consolation is that Trump’s  disapproval ratings have skyrocketed since he decided to lead the liars’  caravan.

Had Romney been running for president 100 years ago he would be facing a similar campaign, albeit one led by Mormon-haters and the Trumps of his day.  Remember, the United States nearly went to war with the theocracy in Utah Territory;  at a time when polygamy was equated with slavery, President Buchanan dispatched the Army against defiant Mormon leaders.  The religion’s  founder, Joseph Smith, had as many as 48 wives, among them a 14-year-old girl.

The church renounced polygamy in 1890, as a condition of statehood for Utah.  But the past was not easily expunged. When Utah sent Reed Smoot to the Senate in 1903, Congress refused to seat him.  Smoot was an Apostle in the Mormon Church, and as such a suspected polygamist — though there was no evidence of multiple wives.  After a four-year trial, and more than a thousand witnesses who were asked about every bit of Reed’s background and that of his church, he was allowed to take his place in the Senate. This was thanks in large part to the backing of the nation’s first progressive president, Teddy Roosevelt.

Today, six members of the Senate — counting the appointment of Dean Heller from Nevada this week — and two potential presidential candidates come from a church once described as a devil’s cult by mainstream Christians.   If Romney wins next year,  and Democrats retain the Senate, Mormons would hold not just the presidency but the Senate Majority post, in Harry Reid from Nevada. Their religion is not an issue, except with the same intolerant crowd who have followed Trump into the gutter.

Janny Scott’s book reminds us that most Americans don’t come from Mayflower stock. When I started mucking around in my own Irish ancestry, I found some  border-crossers in  Michigan’s Upper Peninsula,  not unlike Romney’s people in Mexico. It looks like bootlegging, rather than extra wives, may have been  at stake, but I can’t be sure.

At least one president, John F. Kennedy, came from bootlegging Irish heritage.  It was always a side issue, the mist of his father’s past, though nobody ever forced  Jack Kennedy to prove he wasn’t a criminal.   He looked like most Americans, and that was enough.

By: Timothy Egan, The New York Times Opinion Pages, April 28, 2011

April 29, 2011 Posted by | Bigotry, Birthers, Ideologues, Mitt Romney, Politics, President Obama, Racism, Religion | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment


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