The Offensive Politics of Deniability

category_bug_politics.gif You probably heard the shockingly racist statement earlier this week made by an adviser to Mitt Romney during a discussion with editors at The Telegraph in London:

”...one [adviser], [reports The Telegraph], suggested that Mr Romney was better placed to understand the depth of ties between the two countries than Mr Obama, whose father was from Africa.”

“'We are part of an Anglo-Saxon heritage, and he feels that the special relationship is special,' the adviser said of Mr Romney, adding: 'The White House didn’t fully appreciate the shared history we have'”.

Certainly you understand how this works: Mr. Romney cannot say anything so blatantly racist without becoming the target of a crushing smackdown. But the campaign wants to reaffirm its bona fides with voters who hate having a black person as president.

So a campaign adviser (anonymous) is sent out to the press tasked with attributing the statement to his/her boss knowing in advance that later, another will deny the statement, as The Guardian then reported:

”Romney's press secretary, Andrea Saul, said they did not represent his views.

"'It's not true. If anyone said that, they weren't reflecting the views of Governor Romney or anyone inside the campaign,' she told CBS, which said Saul did not comment on what specifically was not true in the remarks.”

Everyone – advisor, press, spokesperson – played their parts perfectly (including Mr. Romney's apparent non-involvement) and it worked even better than usual for being well-timed: it took place offshore during the run-up to a world event so that the attack's shelf-life is shorter than it would be at another time at home without the Olympics hullabaloo sucking up broadcast time.

So, mission accomplished: The hate voters are reassured and it didn't even need to be in code or a dog whistle - just good, old-fashioned, explicit racism without Mr. Romney sullying his elite coattails.

Unless you know how deniability works out there in campaign-land.

I'm pretty sure anyone reading this blog didn't just fall off the turnip truck. But do you think voters of any age actually accept denials like this? That anyone believes a candidate's adviser “mis-spoke,” during a discussion with one of the major newspapers of the world, on something as offensive as racism? That Mr. Romney does not know about this tactic?

At The Elder Storytelling Place today, Marcy Belson: Knock Wood


Sadly and frighteningly so, there are people that will believe and say Romney had nothing to do with the statement. Fortunately, he seems to be getting his comeuppance.

Its a given that most intelligent people understand the underlying message of such a comment. If Mr. Romney's campaign steps up and identifies and fires the advisor, it will be understood that he was simply falling on his sword as a loyal supporter.

Additionally, President Obama's father was born in Kenya when it was a colony of the British Empire, thus making his father a British subject. Therefore, it could be argued that the President has even more of a link to and understanding of the UK than Mr. Romney.

There was also a very small comment in my blatantly conservative paper that most voters do not understand his religion. I was amazed that they printed this.

Racism has been the 800-pound gorilla in our political room for the past four years. The media, of which I am a retired member, is complicit in this Gentleman's Agreement.
Totally coincidentally, I just received the 1947 film, "Gentleman's Agreement," with Gregory Peck, which is about Antisemitism. The parallels are striking; I recommend it.

I am so weary of all this. Born 1947, I watched the civil rights movement as I grew up in the 50s and 6os. Yes, I saw the Saturday Evening Post cover of the little girl being escorted to school by National Guardsmen and I watched the newsreel films of the sit-ins while trying to figure out why these horrors were permitted. I didn't know any black people -- we lived in an area that was lily white and still is -- but somehow I understood that it was all wrong. That we still haven't gotten past this in the 65 (yikes) I've lived, makes me angry and sad all at once.

Yes, it is very ugly. And don't think it wasn't heard and understood by all the leaders of the many other countries on this earth that are not part of the "Anglo-Saxon heritage."

Sadly,racism in America is a continuing scurge on our society.

One day soon Caucasians will be a minority in this country. That should be an interesting new experience for all the bigots.

I am pleased to say that my NOT-so-retiring friends across the pond found the remarks offensive.

If anyone in this scenario is a racist, it is Mr. Obama. Obama despises white people and has admitted to it both in print (read his books) and through his remarks.

It works both ways people. Blacks hate the whites. Wake up!

Obama is bi-racial. He is half white. Half black. He chose his black side because he couldn't stand the way white people treated black people and of his own white grandmothers timidness towards blacks. She would walk across the street if she saw a black man coming. Obama's words. Not mine. Read his books!
If you think Obama's dislike of whites hasn't affected his presidential duties, you're mistaken.

Wake up.

I don't know what to say to Hank. I am astounded that he really believes what he wrote. It's shocking, but he must be a Fox news believer for they are the ones that spread this garbage.

What rot, Hank. You are the one who needs to wake up.

It continues to be the mind set of people who refuse to join the rest of the world as we enter the 21st century. It reflects an adolescent mentality that was more popular when America was predominantly a WASP society and who earnestly want to return to this faded time in our history.

Sounds like Rove's handiwork. Attack the opponent on his strengths. His diverse heritage is a strength. Try to make it seem like a weakness.

Even on a local level, our politicians are attacking each other as a way to win votes instead of telling us anything about themselves. Frustrating and ridiculous on any level.

I admit that I have not read Obama's books and so I cannot say whether Hank's interpretation of Obama's state of mind regarding white people is accurate or not. I've been told that many black people are prejudiced against whites just as many whites are prejudiced against blacks. I don't know to what extent this is true, but I wouldn't doubt it much. And probably many of them have good reason to feel that way.

I personally like and admire Obama and hope that he succeeds in obtaining a second term. I hate to imagine what would happen to America if Romney is elected. I see Obama as a charismatic, likeable person, well-educated and articulate. I think he is the person he is because his mother was white and because he was taught at an early age that he could accomplish anything if he studied and worked hard enough. Too many black children grow up without anyone to teach and guide them and to tell them that they are special and to care enough to keep them on the straight and narrow. I am sorry that so many American children grow up without that message, white and black.

None of my relatives ever owned a slave. One side of my family was in Ireland until long after the American Civil War. The other side of my family were poor dirt farmers, too poor to own a slave. They were lucky to have horses to plow with.

I grew up thinking that all people wanted the same things out of life: a safe, comfortable home, enough food on the table, education for their kids, good jobs so they could provide for their families. I still believe that today. I do not begrudge success to anyone if they have worked for it. Obama is a success story that both whites and blacks should appreciate and use as an example for their children.

Other nations look to America and see the disparity of our people and probably find it difficult to understand. And so do I.

I grew up in a New Jersey city; attended public schools there and worked during the 1960s riots in the high school from which I graduated. My hope was that Robert Kennedy and Martin Luther King would be able to somehow bridge the gap between blacks and whites once and for all.

Oh, to be that young again…In other words, I give up!!!

Isabel Wilkerson's “The Warmth of Other Suns” might be an interesting book for Hank to read.

Despite these reprehensible signs that much work remains to be done, American has come a long way in my lifetime toward both religious and racial tolerance and mutual respect.

I'll never give up. We (those who strive for true equality) will overcome. Some day, the Hanks of the world will be completely out of favor.

"...voters who hate having a black person as president." Gasp!! Ronni, you dared put that down in black and white (no pun intended)!? If only our mainstream media could be so blunt and honest. All the PC language in the world won't change the bald ugly truth. And I'm not sure we will ever change it if we refuse to call it what it is and condemn it.

The Buddhists tell the story of "The Blind Men and the Elephant" wherein 10 visually challenged gentlemen try to define the shape and demeanor of the animal by touching his various parts. One who touched the elephant's trunk was convinced "elephant" was a snake and another who grasped one of the feet said it was a tree.

Our own perception of things will vary from person -to-person, for some,Romney is just another political hack looking for a chance to sit in the catbird's seat. Personally I see something else- a spoiled ego maniac with serious psychological issues. A textbook sociopath. The "gaffes" are heart-felt and deliberate. When I was living in Europe (almost 20 years) I was frequently called on to explain some of the stupidity of our political leaders. If Romney does get elected I'll just have to stay home

"I think he is the person he is because his mother was white" Oh my!

To anyone who doesn't think that this was a carefully planned incident, I have a lovely bridge to sell you.

We can never get to the core of anyone running for political office when religion, colour, sexual orientation and financing, get in the way of an honest evaluation.

PiedType (and others) are right--there are elements in the USA that simply cannot accept a Black man as President. Their circular reasoning probably goes something like this: you have to be intelligent and knowledgeable to be President. Black people can't be intelligent or knowledgeable (like us white folks) because America wouldn't enslave people like us. We enslaved Black people so they can't be people like us--well, you get the picture! Looking at it this way makes it SO much easier to practice blatant discrimination.

President Obama hasn't been able to accomplish all that we hoped for in 2008, but I shudder to think where we ordinary (non-ultrarich) Americans would be under a Romney regime.

Anyone in this nation with darkened skin color, such as President Obama from when he was born, is automatically assumed by most in this country to be "black." Even an ounce of African blood, though a persons skin color might be white, has been enough for individuals to be labeled "black." That whole viewpoint is mind-bogglingly crazy!

I've known of numerous individuals from other than African nations who have darkened skin and somehow, in some warped-thinking minds, they are "black," so to be discriminated against.

Here in So Cal this Anglo (me) is now part of a minority with the Hispanics (primarily Mexican-Americans) predominate in number. FWIW I know really well a friend who is lily white in appearance, but is a combination Hispanic (possibly Mayan Indian) and Jewish. What one label describes this person?

I know also of personal discrimination that friend and spouse experienced based on the Jewish half -- covertly inflicted by prominent business families several generations removed from immigrant northern European nation families who came here to enjoy for themselves and children our rights and freedoms. Those against whom they discriminated were here generations earlier.

Does racism in this country never die? Somebody always must overcome their own lack of self-worth by disparaging another by being willful prejudiced bigots.

I never cease to be amazed at the continued existence of individuals who loudly profess belief in America's values but whose words and actions reveal covert and overt racism. We must always speak out against such people including, and especially, those who would be our leaders.

Yep. I didn't know a robot, and his kind, could be so vile. We must defeat them!

It only make sense that Obama chose to be black. He couldn't very well pass as white with his looks so his choice probably had nothing to do with his feelings toward white people. Get a grip people!

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