Since former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney became the presumptive GOP nominee, the Left has auditioned a number of attack lines against him, trying to make an issue out of everything imaginable. However, that attempt to create smears didn't really kick into high gear until Romney made it clear that he plans to speak to the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, a move that apparently threatens the Left because being willing to talk to black people is somehow racist. Or something.
In any case, suddenly the attack line against Romney from the Left has become extremely clear. Unimaginatively enough, they're branding him as a racist, and have thus narrowed their potential field of reasons for this charge to the following:
1. That Romney is a Mormon, and that's terrible because the Mormon church used to be racist.
2. That Romney is part of a party that supports supposedly racist ideas like making sure someone is who they say they are when they vote.
3. That Romney's fellow Republicans have said supposedly racist things about President Obama.
4. That Republicans unconnected to Romney have said inflammatory things about race.
5. Romney is really, really white. What this means is anyone's guess.
You don't have to take our word for it - tune into Martin Bashir or Lawrence O'Donnell or Ed Schultz on any given day and you'll probably hear at least one of these ideas brought up.
But what if you want to hear all of them? For that you will need to turn to a little organization called The Message, which put out this thoroughly curious video today:
And who is The Message? The Washington Examiner explains:
According to a news release, The Message said it plans to use videos to "say things that Democrats are afraid to say, connect with young voters-many of whom are alienated by today's political climate, and give smart and insightful voices an opportunity to contribute to the debate."
The group is directed by Razor & Tie co-founder Cliff Chenfeld, former Media Matters for America president Eric Burns, former AOL chief creative officer and co-founder of theknot.com Michael Wolfson, and former New York Times journalist Andrew Zipern. "The Message's unique mix of entertainment experience, political and messaging savvy, online creativity and distribution expertise, and a journalist's eye makes it the platform Democrats and progressives need to lift their voices above the Republicans and have a cultural conversation that molds this election cycle and beyond," added the release.
If this is what these people consider "smart and insightful voices," we'll take our chances with the dumb and obtuse ones.
The video itself is difficult to refute, simply by virtue of the fact that it makes a series of charges that are not explained with anything approaching enough clarity to argue back. Before attempting something like a refutation, though, we have to note a few things that make it look ridiculous right out the gate. Firstly, no candidate has ever had advisers who talk like this. Yes, advisers in a campaign setting can anticipate attacks, but usually they don't look like they believe them, and more to the point, there's usually some sort of focus grouping involved surrounding issues, not just rampant speculation about what a particular demographic thinks or doesn't think. The effort to portray Romney and his advisers as out of touch falls short precisely because its lack of subtlety makes it impossible to believe.
Moreover, the real irony here is that you have a bunch of white liberals (albeit liberals pretending to be Republicans) talking about issues that they think blacks care about. Now, if the video wanted to depict these Republican advisers as out of touch, surely it would have them bring up irrelevant points. But no, the video treats their invented "black concerns" as accurate, which means the people behind it expect us to believe that a series of advisers to the Republican nominee for President of the United States can represent the concerns of black voters accurately. This is going to come back to bite the people behind this when you actually look at the claims in the video.
Claim #1: The Mormon Church was racist in the 70's, when Romney was a member, and he didn't seem to care that much.
The attack on the Mormon Church for its withholding of religious honors from blacks right up through the late 70's (when Romney was a member) would be touchy under almost any circumstances. However, Romney has already disowned, point blank, some of the ideas that motivated the ban, in far sharper language than President Obama ever employed regarding, say, Jeremiah Wright. Moreover, the Mormon Church's racial history is far more complicated than a disingenuous five minute attack video can possibly represent. Consider this quote from a lengthy article on the subject:
It is significant, I believe, that in spite of the many discussions of blacks and slavery that had been published by 1836, no reference had been made to the priesthood. Yet, while there was not a written policy on blacks and the priesthood, a precedent had been established. Shortly before publication of the articles on abolitionism, a Negro was ordained to the Melchizedek priesthood. It has been suggested, considerably after the fact, that this was a mistake which was quickly rectified. Such a claim is totally unfounded and was actually refuted by Joseph F. Smith shortly after being put forth.29 Elijah Abel was ordained an elder 3 March, 1836, and shortly thereafter received his patriarchal blessing from Joseph Smith, Sr.30 In June he was listed among the recently licensed elders31 and on 20 December, 1836, was ordained a seventy.32 Three years later, in June 1839, he was still active in the Nauvoo Seventies Quorum,33 and his seventy’s certificate was renewed in 1841, and again after his arrival in Salt Lake City.34 Moreover, Abel was known by Joseph Smith and reportedly lived for a time in the Prophet’s home.35
Finally, even if you concede that Romney had been a member of a racist church (which we don't), then a consistent application of this attack must also disqualify Democratic Senator Harry Reid from public service, who is 8 years older than Romney and has held Mormon religious views for at least as long. Is Reid a racist? We don't think the question worthy of dignifying any more than it should be in Romney's case.
Claim #2: Republican concerns over voter fraud have no evidence behind them, and are just an excuse to disenfranchise young people and blacks
The first part of this argument is abject nonsense. The evidence that voter fraud exists and happens is overwhelming - so overwhelming that former Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens cited it in a 2008 decision upholding Voter ID laws as constitutional. Stevens, it should be noted, was one of the Court's liberals, which makes the next point even more interesting. Not only did Stevens claim there was evidence that voter fraud is a real phenomenon (albeit one that voter ID laws cannot solve single-handedly), but he also pointed out that the evidence that voter ID laws disenfranchised voters was either unreliable or nonexistent:
But on the basis of the evidence in the record it is not possible to quantify either the magnitude of the burden on this narrow class of voters or the portion of the burden imposed on them that is fully justified.
First, the evidence in the record does not provide us with the number of registered voters without photo identification; Judge Barker found petitioners’ expert’s report to be “utterly incredible and unreliable.” 458 F. Supp. 2d, at 803. Much of the argument about the numbers of such voters comes from extrarecord, postjudgment studies, the accuracy of which has not been tested in the trial court.
Further, the deposition evidence presented in the District Court does not provide any concrete evidence of the burden imposed on voters who currently lack photo identification. The record includes depositions of two case managers at a day shelter for homeless persons and the depositions of members of the plaintiff organizations, none of whom expressed a personal inability to vote under SEA 483. A deposition from a named plaintiff describes the difficulty the elderly woman had in obtaining an identification card, although her testimony indicated that she intended to return to the BMV since she had recently obtained her birth certificate and that she was able to pay the birth certificate fee. App. 94.
An important note should be made here, by the way - the original court challenge to Voter ID laws claimed that they would disenfranchise elderly people, not young people. This suspicious switch is not addressed in the video. However, we are glad to hear that the Left admits there is no evidence of voter fraud, and that disenfranchising elderly voters is a bad thing. Apparently, George W. Bush's election to the Presidency was legitimate after all.
Claim #3: Romney's surrogates/supporters have said racist things.
Farrakhan, 74, the longtime leader of the Nation of Islam, said the war in Iraq, the nation's faltering economy and the increased number of natural disasters were signs of "a nation in peril." He said those problems provide the broader context for Obama's rise.
"We are witnessing the phenomenal rise of a man of color in a country that has persecuted us because of our color," Farrakhan told the crowd of nearly 20,000 gathered at McCormick Place.
"If you look at Barack Obama's [diverse] audiences and look at the effect of his words, those people are being transformed from what they were," he said. "This young man is the hope of the entire world that America will change and be made better."
March 13, 2008:
June 21, 2012:
Sorry, we can't hear your (false) charges over the sound of this.
Claim #4: "You're so white you make wonderbread look like pumpernickel."
You got us. Romney is white. If you don't want to vote for him for that reason, fine. It's not like the Left has a history getting egg on their faces for attacking people for being too white to appeal to black voters or or anyth--
Huh. Well, then why is Romney's color relevant to his Presidential potential then?
Oh, that's right, it isn't.