Does Romney’s Birth Certificate Remark And Dog Whistle Overtones Suggest An Even Uglier Campaign To Come?
Commentary — Mitt Romney, as we reported earlier, engaged in a sort of ironic hat-tip to the more extreme voices in his party during a campaign stop earlier when he half-jokingly made reference to the Obama birth certificate controversy.
What Mitt Romney said, in actuality, may seem to be just an off-the-cuff remark, as the GOP frontrunner joked:
“I love being home in this place where Ann and I were raised, where both of us were born. Ann was born in Henry Ford Hospital, I was born in Harper Hospital. No one has ever asked to see my birth certificate. They know that this is the place that we were born and raised.”
And of course, the Romney campaign rushed to assure the media that Romney wasn’t actually saying what he was actually saying — talking out of one side of their mouths in saying of course they know the president was born in the US, while sounding a dog whistle out of the other to birthers. (Who, let’s face it, were never going to swing in the first place.)
In a comment to BuzzFeed, a campaign spokesperson says:
“The governor has always said, and has repeatedly said, he believes the president was born here in the United States,” said adviser Kevin Madden. “He was only referencing that Michigan, where he is campaigning today, is the state where he himself was born and raised.”
Romney’s remark isn’t even original when it comes to coded racial speak (remember Newt Gingrich’s rallying cry that Obama is the “food stamp president?”), nor is it likely to be the last even this week, because hey, it’s only Friday.
And we saw it last week, with Romney’s continued repetition of a lie that President Obama “gutted welfare reform.” Bill Maher has pointed out the subtly racist tones of the “you tried, he tried” campaign, again a silent beckon to those who aren’t really all too sure about this whole “black president” thing:
“When they deem Obama a failure and say, “He tried. You tried. It’s okay to make a change,” what do they mean by, “You tried.”? Surely they didn’t pick those words by accident. What did we try with Obama that we had never tried with an American president before? What’s different about him? Hmmm…Is it that he’s tall? No, we’ve had tall presidents before. Is it that he’s an Ivy Leaguer? No, had those, too. I don’t know. I’m stumped. Can I use my lifeline?”
It probably shouldn’t really come as a surprise that the GOP is making a last-ditch effort to harness the racist vote, but the fact that Mitt Romney, potential next president of the US, is comfortable making such overtones on a national and international platform is deeply troubling if nothing else.