Power and Politics - I am Not the Yellow Peril

The life and times of an Asian American activist who tells all the truth (and dishes news and analysis) but with a leftwards slant.

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Romney's not primetime: Osam-Obama, and Son of Macaca?

You, yes, YOU Mitt Romney are the son of Macaca. Although Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney has the all American clean-cut good looks, and the wealth of Croesus (founding partner of Bain Capital), he still lacks a good brain. Or at least, he lacks a tired one, per NYTimes: --

But he paused to talk about the threat of radical Islam, taking John Edwards, one of his Democratic opponents, to task for comments he made several months ago that criticized the “global war on terror” as a bumper sticker for President Bush.

“I think that is a position which is not consistent with the fact,” Mr. Romney said. “Actually, just look at what Osam — uh — Barack Obama, said just yesterday. Barack Obama calling on radicals, jihadists of all different types, to come together in Iraq. That is the battlefield. That is the central place, he said. Come join us under one banner.”

The comment set off some confusion among the press corps. Glen Johnson of the Associated Press was momentarily frantically searching for comments made by Mr. Obama, another Democratic presidential contender, about jihadism and Iraq.

It turns out, of course, Mr. Romney was talking about the new audiotape from bin Laden calling on insurgents in Iraq to unite.


Kevin Madden, a Romney spokesman, said afterward: “Governor Romney simply misspoke. He was referring to the recently released audiotape of Osama bin Laden and misspoke when referencing his name. It was just a brief mix-up.”

Regardless of how his spokesman would like to spin it, it's not a brief mix up when you do it twice and substantially confuse the context. It's a racist moment, a potential macaca moment, if you will. I wouldn't be surprised to hear youtube mashups of it real soon, along the lines of Senator Ted Stevens' (R-Alaskan Oil Lobbyists) infamous techno hit "The internets is a series of tubes."

Unfortunately, this moment isn't particularly good for Obama since it reinforces the rightwing meme of his so-called Muslim leanings and his middle name which crackpots never fail to bring up: Hussein.

It also didn't fit with Obama's complicated dance to portray himself both as a candidate for all America, and as the first post-race candidate, while being the "great black hope." One of the reasons why Webb was able to use former Senator Allen's words against him so effectively is because Allen was being a bully to a college kid, and everyone who saw that videotape could see it. It allowed Virginians who never wanted to be associated with the worst stereotypes of the South to cast a vote for Senator Webb, who was a figure of change (as far as transferring a Senate seat from one white man to another can be) but still familiar, as a gun-loving military man who totes his guns into the Senate.

The racial equation is different when it's a black man calling out a white man, and I'd bet that the Obama campaign wants people to forget about this incident ASAP. If his campaign were really savvy and able to walk that tightrope, they would use this as a galvanizing moment, and use it to promote Obama as the great American hope - the antithesis of racial politics that divide, the opposite of a white man who confuses two similar-sounding foreign names. This feeds great into your base of young people who understand that this is not accidental, and even if, it;s a huge slur that shows what and how Romney thinks of black people. (aka, black man = terrorist, and this is NOT ACCEPTABLE.) Use this to say that you are not the kind of person who stands for this, a man who brings America together, and be the bold leader who we desperately seek. The amazing, transcendental, incandescent speaker on that stage in 2004. Not the tired man who went on the Daily Show a month ago and couldn't uhm his way out of a paper bag. Don't be the falling star.

And if I were working on any campaign, Dem or GOP, opposing Romney, I'd respin this as the son of Macaca, and put it up real quick on that series of tubes. But I'll bet that Obama's campaign wants this to settle down real quick because it's easier.

This just shows that Romney's not that smart, and just not ready for primetime. Hammer home his weakness, his inability to distinguish a leading presidential candidate in the United States from the terrible Other, the enemy who we hunt abroad.

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