Will Real Race-Baiters Please Stand Up?
As GOP leaders sweep the latest Rev. Jeremiah Wright flap under the rug, racial politics thrive.
Joe Ricketts (Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty)
The proposal in question, put together by infamous GOP media strategist Fred Davis, is called "The Defeat of Barack Hussein Obama." It came to light through a New York Times investigative report that revealed the strategy of the GOP-aligned Ending Spending Action Fund, a super PAC backed by TD Ameritrade founder and former CEO Joe Ricketts, a billionaire whose family holdings include the Chicago Cubs. Ricketts, a longtime supporter of conservative candidates, has pledged $10 million for an anti-Obama attack-ad campaign and has given money to every single 2012 GOP presidential candidate.
The proposal claims that the president misled the nation by presenting himself as a "metrosexual, black Abe Lincoln" and suggests hiring an "extremely literate, conservative African American" to be used as a pawn and media surrogate for the GOP, attacking the president throughout the 2012 election cycle. It calls for running commercials linking Obama to incendiary comments made by his former pastor -- whose race-infused sermons made Wright a polarizing figure in the 2008 campaign.
"The world is about to see Jeremiah Wright and understand his influence on Barack Obama for the first time in a big, attention-arresting way," according to the proposal. Brian Baker, president and general counsel of the super PAC, admitted to the New York Times that "Joe Ricketts is prepared to spend significant resources in the 2012 election in both the presidential and congressional races."
What makes the exposure of Ricketts' proposal so important is that it shamelessly articulates the Republican strategy and playbook of the past four years: namely, to use latent racial animus as a way to achieve a 21st-century-style white redemption akin to the vicious disenfranchisement that removed newly elected African-American legislative officials from office in the post-Civil War era. That redemption invalidated votes of freedmen and opened the door to Jim Crow and all the racial disparities that still plague America's sociopolitical consciousness.
Ricketts tried to renounce the race-based tactics, despite one document that conveys his explicit preliminary approval to draft it. Presumed Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney held a press conference last Thursday, saying that he disapproved. "I want to make it very clear: I repudiate that effort," Romney said. But he isn't blameless, as reports quickly surfaced that he, too, engaged in the wink-wink, nudge-nudge nod to racial animus.