On July 11 Mitt Romney addressed an NAACP conference in Houston, and the GOP media oozed admiration for his presumed courage and outreach. Although Romney is not likely to get more than five percent of the black vote, our smiling warrior was still trying to court black leaders.
Romney’s presence in the enemy’s lair was only a triumph for those who are desperate enough to believe it was. The NAACP audience roundly booed him for about ten seconds when he criticized Obamacare. MSNBC and others featured pictures of Romney’s embarrassed face as he was being booed.
Romney spoke to his Obamaite audience about reaching out to “every race, creed, and sexual orientation.” Who said Reps are too stuffy to reach out? In 2003 it was not Obama but W who bewailed America’s sinful racist past during a visit to West Africa. In return for this gesture and prominently featuring blacks in his cabinet, Bush only won about 11% of the black vote in 2004.
Obama is too busy focusing on core groups to make visits to the lion’s lair. Has anyone noticed him visiting Bob Jones University or explaining his views on gay marriage to a conference of fundamentalists? Obama is obviously looking for votes where he is likely to find them rather than making grand gestures to the other side.
Despite Romney’s efforts at ingratiation, other Republicans are playing hardball for his sake. All over the country now Republicans such as Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett are pushing for voter-identification laws. These measures look perfectly reasonable, and the requirement that voters present some kind of valid ID to cast a valid ballot seems to me a minimal attempt to avoid voter fraud.
In Pennsylvania as many as 750,000 may be turned away at the polls if the law is enacted. In Pennsylvania Obama leads Romney in the polls by about ten percent, but minus the voters who don’t have proper identification (even a driver’s license will do), the contest would be much closer.
The fact that Attorney General Eric Holder has refused to prosecute 2008’s Philadelphia Black Panther case as voter intimidation suggests this administration is not likely to correct voting abuses. After all, the reported abuses favor those who are now in power. But the (perhaps intended) effect of the ID laws will be to keep minorities from voting in the numbers they did in 2008.
Rather than registering underclass, doddering, and carefree adolescent voters as fast as it can, the Democratic administration is reacting with colossal stupidity. Holder is trying to challenge as many laws as he can by dragging up the 1965 Voting Rights Act (a measure that GOP Congressmen overwhelmingly supported and have voted periodically to renew). Under this law certain districts in the South can be kept from changing voting laws in a way that would depress the black turnout. But this draconian measure can only work in a very limited number of places that have enacted voter-identification laws. When (no longer if) Corbett signs the voter-ID bill in Pennsylvania, Holder will not be able to stop the law’s enforcement in this state or anywhere else north of the Mason-Dixon Line.
Still, all these GOP efforts on Romney’s behalf may not serve to counteract his dreary, platitudinous character. Every four years GOP primary voters continue to surprise me with the lackluster, narcoleptic standard-bearers they choose. These candidates only seem to have strong convictions about launching new crusades for democracy or creeping back into old conflicts that should never have been started.
On domestic issues, Romney is strictly a one-noter. He tells us night and day he’s against Obamacare, although he enacted similar legislation in Massachusetts that is saddling the state government there with enormous debts. From what I can tell, Romney has nothing against “comprehensive” legislation that would legalize illegals in the US, but this may change as he flips back and forth. The same holds true for his opinions about “every…sexual orientation.”
Romney’s courting of Condoleezza Rice as a vice-presidential candidate would be electorally disastrous if the wooing succeeds. A socially liberal remnant of the unpopular Bush Administration, Rice has no appeal to black voters because of her GOP identification. Besides, she is known to hold views on abortion and affirmative action that turn off the right.
Romney offers the American right nothing but waffling in place of Obama’s authentically leftist politics. As a campaigner Romney is so bad that even the neocons on Fox have begun to complain.
The right may vote for Romney in critical numbers if Obama sucks up too obnoxiously to his constituency of aggrieved and illegal minorities. The right is not going to embrace Romney with any enthusiasm, but it can be made to vote for him if Obama makes a jerk of himself and if GOP hacks call attention to this loudly enough.
But whatever smarts Romney may have shown in business are clearly lacking in his presidential bid.