Mitt Romney and the Politics of Disrespect

In the second debate, he used a losing strategy that's a GOP staple: belittling the black president.

Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images
Saul Loeb/AFP/Getty Images

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His third mistake was in his closing statement, when he declared that he was for 100 percent of the people, leaving the door open for the president to bring up the “47 percent” secret videotape — during which Romney wrote off nearly half of the American voting public — that had dragged the Republican’s polling numbers down after its release.

After the dustup had settled and Barack Hussein Obama had wiped the smirk off Willard Mitt Romney’s face, you could tell Republicans knew that this time their Great Right Hope had been bested like Jack Johnson over James Jeffries.

They fell into the default position, creating a narrative to suit their personal beliefs and biases. There was no way that the man whom Romney-campaign co-chair John Sununu had characterized following the first debate as incompetent, “lazy and detached” was AWOL at this second one. The presidential debate turned out to be a racist’s worst nightmare: an intelligent, knowledgeable black man with authority.

The opposition wanted their caricature back.

Rather than facing the truth, they blamed the moderator, Crowley, for daring to ask the kind of follow-up questions that Romney had been ducking throughout his candidacy. They complained about the president treating the presidential candidate rudely in what was no less than an alpha dogfight.

After two solid years of Republican obstructionism — whose “Country Second” approach to its first and foremost goal of making Obama a one-termer has been laced with a heavy dose of lying about who Obama was and what Obama did or did not do — the right had come to believe its own propaganda. And Romney, the Etch-a-Sketch candidate, has managed to be both victim and victimizer. In the Denver debate, Romney all but called the president a boy.

While boldly defending his tax plan by saying he won’t cut taxes for the rich, Romney accused the POTUS of misrepresenting his economic plan. “Look, I’ve got five boys,” Romney said to Obama. “I’m used to people saying something that’s not always true but just keep repeating it and ultimately hoping I’ll believe it.”