Willard and the Kobayashi Maru
(If you kind folks could see your way clear to helping out Mrs. JP and me, we'd surely appreciate it. Making the rent and the rest of our bills for August is looking very scary right now.)
(By American Zen's Mike Flannigan, on loan from Ari Goldstein.)
Let's call him Shillard.
Last Wednesday, for reasons that will remain inexplicable but to the mayonnaise gods, Mitt Romney spoke to the NAACP's national convention, looking as much at ease as a Grand Dragon of the Alabama KKK at a Black Panther rally. And it could be said that the only genuine applause from actual members of the NAACP in attendance he got just for having the guts to show up. As has now been reported from TV pundits to liberal bloggers, Romney was roundly booed for 14 seconds when he vowed to repeal "ObamaCare".
Every four years, the NAACP invites both presidential candidates to address their annual convention (Ironically, Obama didn't make it and sent Joe Biden in his stead. Biden also got booed but for ending his speech.) And any Republican who's invited to the NAACP is automatically put in a lose-lose situation: If they go the Bush route and ignore the invitation, they're branded as racists. If they accept, they're either panderers or triangulators (such as Willard) or they expose their prejudices and racially-hostile policies to the least sympathetic audience on earth and branded a racist. I know, I know. It's grossly unfair if you're a Republican but such is the price you pay if you're a pro-corporate racist Republican whose tax proposals will siphon money from African American households while providing more tax breaks for white bread Republican 1 percenters like Romney.
But Willard is a resourceful kind of racist, one who, like Captain Kirk and the unwinnable Kobayashi Maru scenario, has no moral qualms about gaming the system. The Kobayashi Maru, as explained in Star Trek II, was an unbeatable battle scenario that tested the leadership abilities of Star Fleet cadets. Captain Kirk as a young man actually won the scenario by reprogramming the simulator, what he called "adapting and overcoming." In other words, he cheated.
Willard, knowing very well there was no percentage in slumming, likewise rewrote the rules of engagement by busing in anywhere from 20 to 200 sympathetic black conservatives (depending on which report you read). Their job was a simple and time-honored one: To clap and cheer at his applause lines. If you thought it suspicious that the most august assemblage of African American leaders would willingly applaud Willard Romney, a man who once said as Governor of Massachusetts that he'd never set up a business in a black neighborhood, then there's the reason.
And now, in what would be the ultimate pander, we're reading 60 point bold headlines from ambulatory hat rack Matt Drudge that Bush junta war criminal Condi Rice is on Romney's VP short list. Yes, Condoleezza Rice, the only person on the planet who can make Willard Romney look like a Care Bear on laughing gas.
As with Bush's reluctant speech to the NAACP at the close of his alleged presidency, Willard's speech wasn't so much pandering and triangulating as it was a tired boilerplate campaign speech indistinguishable from any other he's given since last year. To show you just how out of touch this Brooks Brothers mannequin is, Romney said he would defend traditional marriage to the same organization that had officially albeit symbolically gave their support for marriage equality on May 19th.
And one couldn't help but escape the impression that Willard was slumming, as if he was discharging an onerous public service obligation mandated by a judge. He showed his contempt for their collective intellect by assuming they wouldn't be educated enough to know he has no educational program other than to dismantle or privatize the US Department of Education (possibly even eliminating the cabinet position of the Secretary of Education) and that smaller classroom sizes are actually bad for students.
He obviously has no jobs plan other than to poo-poo the president's easily verifiable track record at job creation. Instead, he played the typical Republican shell game by trying to turn the NAACP against the president by saying unemployment among African Americans had recently risen from 13.8% to 14.4% This much is true but the fact is many of those jobs that were lost in the African American community were public sector jobs that Romney's gone on record as saying he'd like to eliminate along with other "expensive programs."
Even we liberals must've been tempted to feel bad for this guy who walked into the lion's den carrying nothing but a wooden sword and talking points. The very fact that Romney had to manufacture what little consensus there appeared to be during his boilerplate speech by bussing in partisan blacks like Niger Innis to shill for him alone almost earns him the courage brownie points he could've and should've earned by going to Vietnam, the same war he championed while taking full advantage of his cult missionary draft-exempt status.
In a typical presidential race in which one has to squint to see the difference between both party's candidates, here's the starkest difference: As a community organizer working with ACORN, President Obama had gotten out the vote by bussing African Americans to polling places.
Willard Romney? He supports restrictive Voter ID laws and buses in African Americans not so they can freely vote but to shill for him.