Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Mitt Dog-Whistles to his Base at the NAACP


Why would Mitt Romney to make a fool of himself at the NAACP convention in Houston? Why would he tell an audience of mainly Democratic Obama Supporters that he wants to repeal "Obamacare," causing them to boo him off the stage?

But wait ~ isn't he trying to gain African American support in the November election? Isn't he trying to appeal to black independent voters?

Actually, no, he isn't trying to do that at all.

What he's trying to do is show the Tea Party Republicans that he's a "real man" who will stand up to Democrats, and especially people of color.

So he got up in front of the NAACP and blew his "dog whistle," or a message that most of us will take one way, but the "in crowd" of Republicans will hear another way, just as a dog can hear a dog whistle that is inaudible to most humans. Most Democrats or Independent voters will think "poor Romney, he screwed up again," while the Tea Party will cheer it as a victory.

Unlike Ted Nugent or Rush Limbaugh, a man running for the highest office in the land has to use a subtler form of dog whistle. He has to pretend that he wants to be everyone's president, which is what he said today, but at the same time he gave his party red meat with the contradiction that no matter what the members of the NAACP want from a President, they won't get it from him. And that's how we know it was a dog whistle, not some slip-up by an incompetent campaign.

Oh, and also too . . . he admitted that he expected to get booed. He knew he was going to get a reaction that would be a sound-byte on the news.

ABC News Story
Mitt Romney said after being booed at the NAACP today that he "expected" the strong objection in response to his pledge to repeal President Obama's health care law.
. . .
Avis Jones-DeWeever, the executive director of the National Council of Negro Women, said Romney had accomplished a "calculated political ploy" by signaling to conservatives that he's willing to tell backers of the health law that he wants to cut it.

"That was like a victory lap on Fox News," she said. "That was exactly what he went there intending to do."

Martin Bashir Discussion on MSNBC

Bashir: Was Mitt Romney really addressing the audience that he was in front of or was he speaking to some other people in that speech? Because -- the speech itself was a stump speech that I have heard when he's been in New Hampshire, when he has been in Wisconsin. It didn't seem any different. Who was he really speaking to?

Jonathan Capehart: He was speaking to both audiences and in his stump speech is void of any specifics which has, you know, Democrats and Republicans alike scratching their heads and begging for more. But -- in all speeches there are multiple audiences. On the one hand he's saying to African Americans you are just like everyone else I talk to. You are a part of the united states . Here's my overall message.

Bashir: Thank you for reminding us of that. Excellent.

Capehart: But the other audience is still his core constituency. His base. His being booed by saying he will repeal Obamacare, I think that will inure to his benefit. It shows his constituency that, one, he is not afraid to say "Obamacare" to the audience that's the most loyal constituency to -- to president Obama. And that he then took in the boos and went off script and ad-libbed this study that you called bogus shows he . . . he's not afraid of -- not afraid of a fight. So he's doing -- he is doing multiple things. I think tactically speaking, politically speaking, not so bad.

Bashir: Clarence , what do you think that Mitt Romney actually welcomed the booing in some ways? Maybe it kind of was helpful to him because of course he's going off to Montana and then he's going to see Dick Cheney in Wyoming, he can go there and wave this one and say "look, boys, I got booed at the NAACP."

Clarence Page: Martin, how can you have such a cynical Machiavellian notion as to think that Mitt Romney might find some value in triangulating a situation like this?
Seriously. I was wondering the same thing. I don't know the -- I don't mean Mitt Romney wants to be portrayed as a man black people don't like. When you look at the speech, indeed it was the same talking points he normally gives when campaigning to his base. But also, the same words, I mean, when you talk about Obamacare, to say Obamacare to the NAACP, it's like praising cheeseburgers to a convention of vegans.
This organization has been very much -- in favor of Obamacare for a variety of Republican Code. He never says "Romneycare." He's very happy to say "Obamacare." It was very much loaded like he was talking to a group of Tea Party folks. I don't think he was really surprised by the booing. and certainly he scores points either way with middle of the road folks important just the fact he showed up. But he's making the outreach. George W. Bush did it as a candidate but then went several years without showing up at the NAACP as President.

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