Last night, on Piers Morgan’s show, John Sununu dismissed Colin Powell’s endorsement of Barack Obama, explicitly stating that endorsement was motivated by racial kinship. Sununu later backtracked on his remarks, defending Powell’s right to remain in the Republican Party and referring to him as a “friend.”
As utterly disgusting and bigoted as Sununu’s accusation was, it is completely consistent with the Republican tactic of subtle race-baiting. Regardless of whether or not we choose to accept it, America remains a highly prejudiced country and many voters, particularly those in the white working-class, remain uncomfortable with the idea of an African-American President. Remarks like Sununu’s take advantage of this discomfort and galvanize opposition to Obama.
Attacks on the President’s welfare policy, among other things, are nothing but coded racial attacks. The stereotype of the drug addicted, willfully unemployed African-American male is one that persists in America. For days, Donald Trump hyped up a purported bombshell about the President, which turned out to be little more than a publicity stunt in which he offered five million dollars for Obama’s college transcripts, referring to him as “the least transparent President in history.” The idea here is that Obama’s history of academic success is entirely based on affirmative action. It undermines his immense academic success and engenders bitterness towards African-Americans. Why did the right-wing never question George W. Bush’s academic record, despite the fact that he was only admitted to Yale due to his legacy status? When no President in history has ever released their college transcripts-- and for obvious reasons-- why is Obama denounced as dishonest and the least transparent President in history?
This is far from the first time Sununu in particular, a national co-chair of Romney’s campaign, has made such repugnant remarks. Previously, he stated that the President needed to “learn how to be an American,” Obviously, Sununu is implying that every non-white person is not an American. Such a statement is utterly antithetical to the ideals of this country, and it is especially ironic given that Sununu is a naturalized Cuban. Following Obama’s lackluster performance at the first Presidential debate, Sununu referred to him as “lazy,” again pandering to the belief that all African-Americans are indolent leeches. Finally, Sununu has referenced the President’s drug use in his youth and emphasized Obama’s time spent in Indonesia.
A reasonable person might question why, in spite of all of this blatant discrimination, Sununu has not been so much as admonished by Romney. The answer is simple: The race-baiting strategy is highly effective. In 2008, political scientists estimated that Obama lost between 3 and 5% of the popular vote due to his race. Sununu is a valuable asset for the Romney campaign. He functions as an attack dog who can, with complete impunity, make classless attacks seen as beneath the dignity of a presidential candidate. Mitt Romney wants these attacks to be made, but he doesn’t want to be the one to make them. There is little other reason why Sununu was selected to serve in such a high-ranking capacity within the Romney campaign. He served as the Governor of New Hampshire, a very small state, more than thirty years ago and has done little of consequence since then. His value is in his willingness to make these racial attacks and his eagerness to publicly humiliate himself. Romney is not Sununu and is not held responsible for Sununu’s remarks.
The Romney campaign demanded an apology from MSNBC host Touré following a controversial comment on racial coding. And while Touré shouldn’t have used such a word on television, it accurately describes what is going on. The faux outrage from the Romney campaign is absolutely sickening. They know what they’re doing, and as I have stated before, Mitt Romney is wrong for embracing such detestable methods. You can add “race-baiter” to the already impressive resume of callous job-outsourcing profiteer, tax avoider, draft dodger, and high school bully. Mitt Romney needs to repudiate Sununu’s remarks.
Former Secretary of State and General Colin Powell’s endorsement is obviously a momentous one which could sway both cross-pressured Democrats and moderate Republicans to vote for Obama. Powell is one of the world’s premier foreign affairs experts and is widely respected by both sides of the political spectrum. Dismissing his support as racially motivated de-legitimizes him and provides an excuse for the prejudiced to ignore it and support one of the most disgraceful and out-of-touch candidates in American history. Clearly, the Republican Party has sunk to a new low, one which involves deception, fear, and voter suppression. All of these constitute subversions of democracy.
P.S. If there was any doubt in my mind about Piers Morgan’s journalistic abilities, it’s gone now. The guy is a mediocre journalist at best. No follow-up question to Sununu? Seriously? Talk about softball questions. I guess the previously mentioned Touré was right about him.