My old pal Paul Delaney, a fellow contributor to The Root, recently asked me what kind of speech I thought Barack Obama’s Republican challenger would make to a mainstream black audience during next year’s presidential campaign.
It’s a good question because every four years, the GOP and its standard-bearer reaffirm their determination to go after every vote, including those of black America — and then proceed to prove their insincerity.
When they appear before black organizations, they are less interested in appealing to black voters than in convincing fence-sitting whites that despite their party’s historic addiction to race-baiting tactics, it’s OK to vote for them. Their intent, described perceptively by Denton Watson, the biographer of NAACP legend Clarence Mitchell, is to show that they “will talk to all sorts of Americans and not exclude anyone.”
Given those parameters, what kind of speech might the Republican champion deliver if she or he addressed, say, the NAACP?
The candidate might start out trying to score points for candor by addressing the NAACP’s charge last year that there are racist elements within the so-called Tea Party movement. Then he or she could move on to an attack on Obama before winding up with an exposition of his or her own ideas and an impassioned show of solidarity with the idea of racial equality.
I’ve pulled together a political stump speech using actual quotes from former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin; former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney; former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich; and businessman Herman Cain, the only African-American hopeful in the GOP field. Here goes:
“I have been called a sell-out, an Uncle Tom and shameless because I disagree with this president’s policies. Those who are calling me those names have probably never been to a Tea Party event, and I doubt officials of the NAACP have attended an event either. Those that would like to join the name-calling parade should save themselves some time. In my grandfather’s vernacular, ‘I does not care!’ ” –Cain
“It’s a false accusation that Tea Party Americans are racist. Any good American hates racism. We don’t stand for it. It is unacceptable.” –Palin
“This president ran on a campaign of hope and change, but his change is not working. Over 4 million Americans lost jobs in 2009, the unemployment rate has gone from 7.6 percent in January 2009 to 9.5 percent in June 2010, the unemployment rate for black Americans is over 15 percent and not getting better, and the national debt has increased exponentially to over $13 trillion since January 2009.
“Tea Party people are not racist. They are patriotic Americans who want the greatest country in the world to remain the greatest by exercising their right to make their voices heard. This isn’t about race. This is about results, and the results by this administration are missing in action.” –Cain