How Donald Trump Lost the Black Vote
He could have been the GOP presidential candidate most likely to peel away black votes from Obama. Not anymore.
There's a great scene in Pulp Fiction where Vincent, John Travolta's introspective contract killer, complains to his bathrobe-clad heroin dealer about an unknown scoundrel who "keyed" the pristine paint job on his vintage Chevy Malibu. The wistful coda to his woeful tale is this: "It'd been worth him doing it just so I could've caught him doing it."
And that's where we are these days with Donald Trump -- in a matter of weeks, he's propelled himself into the "I wish a motherf***** would" phase of his as-yet-undeclared presidential campaign. He's talked enough smack about President Barack Obama that it's time, as Bill Cosby demanded last week on Today, for Trump to run or just "shut up." It's time that Trump talked about Obama to his face.
After a monthlong "Birther" tour that stopped at Good Morning America, O'Reilly and The View to deposit the recycled claim that under Obama, "this country is going to hell," and Trump's thoroughly debunked "doubts" about Obama's citizenship -- including his theory that the first black president's white grandparents fudged his birth records to get him on welfare -- this week Trump went on Fred Dicker's radio show and presented the caveat that he's got "a great relationship with the blacks."
Not anymore. Let's shoot it straight: Plenty of black folks appreciate a blunt-talking guy dipped in expensive suits, as much as -- if not more -- than the next person. If Trump had coupled his reality-TV and Twitter-friendly style with the tolerant social views and "You can have all this, too" team-of-me ethos that he once touted, he could have been the one candidate in the 2012 Republican field to peel away a few black votes from Obama.
While African Americans still support Obama at an 85 percent clip, contrary to popular belief, black America can roll with a lot of the criticism about the president's leadership. But once Trump started arguing that Obama wasn't American, whatever goodwill he had in blackworld up and vanished.
If Trump is even wondering, here's why his passport to black America is probably canceled:
It's 2011. It's perfectly respectable to refer to African Americans as "black people," "the black community" and maybe even "black folks" -- if you can carry it off. But "the blacks"? No.
There's already a black guy doing Trump's material. Donald Trump, casino impresario -- meet Herman Cain, pizza magnate. The former Godfather's Pizza CEO is the only African American in the GOP presidential field, he's been all over Obama's "radical socialism" for years and two weeks ago he jumped on the Birther bandwagon, too.