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.

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In this week’s debate, Romney disrespected the man and his office while trying to put Obama in his place — again. At one point, in the tone of a nasty boss rebuking one of his employees, Romney told the president not to interrupt him. “You’ll get your chance in a moment. I’m still speaking,” adding, “I’m still speaking.” Romney continued with, “That wasn’t a question. That was a statement.”

Belittling the president has become a favorite pastime among conservatives since Obama took office. According to them, he is the dupe of a racist Christian minister and a secret Muslim as well. They’ve characterized the president as someone who can’t think on his feet or speak intelligently without the aid of a teleprompter. He’s also been made out to be a Marxist who can’t understand the American economic system. He’s the “food stamp president” who single-handedly has destroyed the American way of life.

And harkening back to those dear old days of the antebellum South when slaves had to produce papers to prove they weren’t runaways, America’s first black president was forced last year to produced his birth certificate to prove he is not an illegal citizen. Maybe the optics of their treatment haven’t fully occurred to Republicans. Or maybe they don’t care. But if the most powerful man on the planet, who happens to be black, can’t get their respect, what does that say to the rest of the nation’s 42 million African Americans?

Here’s hoping that as the president serves his second term, Republicans will give that a second thought.

Cyber columnist Monroe Anderson is a veteran Chicago journalist who has written signed op-ed-page columns for both the Chicago Tribune and Chicago Sun-Times and executive-produced and hosted his own local CBS TV show. He was also the editor of Savoy Magazine. Follow him on Twitter.