Desperate times call for desperate measures, so Team Romney is taking the low road to the White House.
Because the margin for victory will be razor thin in November, they’ve embarked on a cynical strategy to drag the bottom for those independent and undecided voters who have a problem with the color of the president’s skin.
It’s a troubling development for a once great political party that gave America towering figures like Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt and Dwight Eisenhower, all men of wisdom and integrity.
One of Romney’s TV ads says, “You tried, we tried, it’s okay to make a change” over a series of images of a frowning Obama, perhaps taken when the president was considering his decision to send in Seal Team Six to kill Osama bin Laden.
I’ve been in public relations my entire career. Propaganda always contains unspoken messages the audience perceives viscerally.
This particular spot offers gratuitous forgiveness to white voters who voted for a black president. It suggests they can redeem themselves if they just vote for the Romney this time around.
Then the Romney campaign went bolder, with an ad declaring Obama had “gutted” the work requirements for welfare, a blatant lie, this one with undeniable racial overtones.
It depicts white guys sweating in a machine shop while the narrator taps the resentment some white working class voters might feel about “welfare recipients” (wink-wink), echoing Ronald Reagan’s “welfare queen” and “young buck” dog whistles. Can Willy Horton be far behind?
Voters then got an unexpected and revealing glimpse of what Romney really believes when he discussed his own ignorant prejudices about Americans who rely on government aid.
“Those people” (wink-wink), Romney told GOP swells at a high-end fund raiser, who take no “personal responsibility” for their lives, who see themselves as “victims,” who believe they’re “entitled” to free food, housing and healthcare.
Oops! Sorry American troops, decorated war heroes, disabled folks, students and senior citizens.
In an effort to control the damage, Ann Coulter ran a misdirection play last week, writing an absurd column that claimed the real racism can be found, not in the Romney camp, but on the home of civil rights leader Al Sharpton, MSNBC.
“In 2008, John McCain’s campaign ran a surprisingly effective ad called ‘Celeb’,” Coulter reminded us. “The ad began with a clip of a Berlin crowd ecstatically cheering Obama … followed by photos of Britney Spears and Paris Hilton, as the narrator called Obama ‘the biggest celebrity in the world’.”
It’s only “effective” because the subtext reads: Obama thinks he’s a self-indulgent hip-hop star, you know (wink-wink), with the drugs, parties, posses, and all the rest.
Romney surrogate Newt Gingrich, who famously labeled Romney a liar during the primaries, requires no subtext: “I’m assuming there’s some rhythm (wink-wink) to Barack Obama … Whether he needs large amounts of rest (wink-wink), whether he needs to go play basketball (wink-wink) … I don’t quite know what his rhythm is (wink-wink),” Gingrich said on Fox News.
Then there’s Deroy Murdock, a conservative black columnist who wrote a piece stereotyping the black president as shiftless and lazy.
“Perhaps Obama has devolved from president to slacker-in-chief (wink-wink) in an elaborate display of empathy for America’s 12.5 million unemployed. With so many citizens not working, Obama may reckon, why should he?”
See that word “reckon” up yonder? That’s no accident, y’all. Wink-wink.
Kevin Foley is a public relations executive, author and writer who lives in Kennesaw.