The Dog-Whistle Election of 2012
It was reported yesterday that an un-named advisor to Mitt Romney complained to a foreign publication how President Obama doesn’t share or “appreciate” the shared “Anglo-Saxon heritage” of America and Great Britain. The Romney campaign itself later disavowed this unbelievably stupid comment, but that’s not dissimilar to a celebrity apologizing for an insensitive Tweet.
You know they meant every word of it. They just realized that it was inconvenient.
First of all, Anglo-Saxon Britain ended in 1066 with the Norman conquest at Hastings. Like their persistent use of “Soviet” and “Soviet Union” to describe the country known as the “Russian Federation”, the Romney folks need to brush up on their history.
Secondly, this is all part of a wider theme that’s taken hold of much of the American right since Obama’s nomination and election. It all has to do with painting Obama as a foreign savage devil. How that characterization is made depends somewhat on the person making it, and the intended audience. It may also have something to do with the intelligence of the person making the characterization.
For instance, the extremely dumb and ignorant – oft racist – will simply aver that the President is a foreign-born Kenyan who was raised at a madrassa in Indonesia as part of a worldwide Communist/Muslim conspiracy to take over the United States – a plot dating back to 1961 at least. People mildly more intelligent will simply “ask questions” about the President’s birthplace and loyalty.
The less stupid will say they don’t doubt the President’s birth certificate is real, and “take him at his word” that he’s Christian. The scale slides as people more benignly accuse Obama of “not sharing our values”, or being “socialist”, or going around the world “apologizing for America”.
All of it has a central theme of Republican omniphobia, and of being so fundamentally out of ideas – ideas that plunged the world into a couple of quagmire-y wars and a crushing, long-lasting worldwide economic crisis – that this is all they have to fall back on. Literal demonization of the foreign usurper President, and urging reversion to the very policies that got us into this mess in the first place.
Obama may not be perfect, but he’s not a foreign Communist savage, either. Mitt Romney, however, is by no means the answer to any sane or rational question.